D-Day: I Just Found Out My Spouse Is Cheating

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Have you just discovered current or previous infidelity on the part of your spouse? Have you found signs that your spouse is cheating? Do you feel like your world is thrown into disarray? Is the affair all you can think about? How do you live with this? How do you heal? Can or should you stay married? What will happen to your family and your home?

“I am going insane. Yes. That is what´s happening. Good. Insane.” 
― Suzanne FinnamoreSplit: A Memoir of Divorce

Welcome to Marriage Advocates. We’re sorry that you found us under these circumstances.

My Spouse Is Cheating

Discovering that your spouse is cheating is a shocking experience. If you are like most, you never believed this would happen to you.

Infidelity Hurts

Read this slowly. If this is truly day one, read this very slowly. Many of us here at Marriage Advocates have walked in your shoes; we know how it feels to discover that your spouse is cheating. We are here to help. We are here to support. We are here to share and to listen and to understand.

Day One: Your emotions, a train wreck in real time.

One of your worst nightmares has come true. You discover that your mate, your partner, the person you wanted to trust above all others, has had, or is having, an affair, cheated on you, betrayed your trust. You realize through the grief, sadness and despair that the memories of the emotional pain that stabs your heart and controls your every thought, will be with you the rest of your life in some form or other.

And you don’t really know what to do. How do you cope with discovering that your spouse is cheating…that your marriage is in crisis?

Yet, you know you must do something. A part of you wants to throw things, annihilate the new-found enemy, go to bed and stay there, yell, scream, cry…any, or all of these things. You are literally walking wounded. You ask yourself, “How did this happen to me?” And there is no answer. Above all else, you want your life back. Please know the answers you need will come later–some of them, anyway.

Be still. Don’t do anything for a time. Breathe. Try to calm yourself–nothing good comes from a heart and mind in distress. You must get a grip on yourself.

What Will Happen to My Family?

Questions pop into your addled brain, like: What about the kids? What are other people going to think? What can I do? All with no answers, yet. An alien force has taken over the mind and body of your spouse, the one you love, and in an instant, they have become someone you don’t even recognize.

One of the main questions you have is, “How could he/she do this to me?” And again, no voice comes from out of the air to tell you why. For now, you must live with the question.

Take Care of Yourself

Be still. The details of a life and your responsibilities are still there. If you have kids who need feeding and have homework to be done, a little one to put in bed or helped out of a tantrum….those duties are still there. If you can call a friend, your mom or dad, your sister or brother–someone to help you–make the call.

Your task on day one is to regain control…of you. Take a walk, a hot bath or shower, run around the block, do the chores you must do for daily living; give yourself time to be calm. Hard to do? Of course it is. But it must be done.

Seek Caring Support

Find someone who will listen. That might be your mom, your dad, a really trusted friend, a Minister or Priest, perhaps even here, now that you have discovered us. What you say here, stays here. This can be your secret refuge.

Those of us who have walked in your shoes, and have shared our stories with each other, know how you feel and can help you. We know that not everyone is the same; not everyone will have the same exact circumstances. No matter. We know what it is to go into survival mode while we try to make sense out of the new reality that has become our life.

Without our knowledge or consent, a new reality has been imposed on us. None of us asked for it. Just like you, we landed in a sewer of despair, depression and disillusionment that we must crawl out of.

Take Care of Your Kids

Your first day and night are mostly going to be full of shock, grieving and uncertainty. The kids, if you have them, must be protected from the sight of mom or dad in total disarray or blowing a fuse. Your sick parent doesn’t need to know what has just happened, at least not till you can settle yourself and develop a plan. You still need to earn a living… All part of reality.

Perhaps a good first step is to call in to work and ask for a couple of sick days. You probably will sound sick over the phone, so no involved explanation is necessary. It’s OK to say you’ve had a family crisis.

Plan When and How to Confront Your Spouse

Next, if you haven’t already had a confrontation with your spouse, you should think about exactly how you want to manage that first conversation. It’s okay to show your shock and devastation, keeping in mind that what you really want is information. Maybe, just maybe, if you show a glimpse of how badly you hurt, it will the be first dim light bulb to go off in your spouse’s head that they might have done something that was a really, really bad idea. But don’t expect it.

Confronting Your Spouse Is Frightening

For most of us, our marriage is very much a part of who we are, our personal identity. The thought of losing that part of our identity is like a boat losing its anchor, or its rudder.

Somehow I knew that my own mourning for the life I loved would never be completely gone, but the focus had to change for me to continue my life from that point. And obviously that meant deciding whether to divorce or to exert myself to rebuild a new relationship with my spouse, if that was even possible. I chose the latter, but had no idea how to begin. My husband seemed lost to me.

Part of my process was to arm myself with information– awareness of myself and my feelings as I sorted them out (for help with that, I turned to my doctor); information about the affair; and learning about the possible paths ahead of me. I turned to books and the Internet, to a therapist and even a marriage counselor, by myself. I even saw a lawyer, to defend against the worst.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

You Don’t Have To Do Anything Right Now

The first step is to be still. Throttle as many of the obsessive thoughts as you can. The new path you will be forced to follow will not reveal itself except in the fullness of time and discovery. Don’t be in a big hurry to make something happen, right now. There is so much to inform yourself about. Think before you act, or react.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, your life goes on, so the second step involves continuing to do the necessary. Chores, kids, job. You’ll need to do the laundry, mow the yard and all the other parts of a daily life must be managed. Do what you can as best you can. Because you must, especially if children are depending on you.

Day Two, and Beyond: The planning phase.

In the beginning of your struggle, knowledge is your friend, as painful as it can be. You will discover things that will help guide you. You will be told things you need to analyze through a lens of experience. And that experience is available here, on other web sites, in books and in counseling services.

Learn Everything You Can

The more you know about affairs, how they start and why they happen, the more you know about the one who entered through the door of your life uninvited, the more information you have, the better the decisions you can make. The less you know, the worse your decision process will be, and the more flawed and self destructive your life is likely to become.

You didn’t ask for this mess in your life. Yet there it is, and to get out of the sewer you find yourself in, you must learn things you never wanted to study, find help qualified to provide it, develop a plan and, most important of all, do what must be done, period.

You will find an array of people on this site who have been where you’ve been, felt what you feel, and survived it. Some have reconciled their marriages; some have divorced. But they have all learned a lot along the way. Because they know the trauma of infidelity, they come back to share what they’ve learned with others who have just begun the journey.

Welcome to a club you never wanted to join. There is help and hope here.

Discuss this article on our forum.

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5 Responses to D-Day: I Just Found Out My Spouse Is Cheating

  1. Greg says:

    I’m about 10 days after D-Day. During a counseling appointment, my wife has agreed to not see the OP anymore but refuses to delete his phone number. Counselor said I need to stop beating myself up with worry about this because she’ll contact him if she wants and won’t if she doesn’t. Very hard to stick to this because trust was hurt so much. It was also supposedly just an emotional affair at work but with a man 15 years our junior and in athletic shape. She has maintained all along that she didn’t sleep with him but it’s hard to believe her. I’ve agreed to give her a little time to sort out her feelings before she makes an “all-in” commitment but it’s so hard right now.

    • I’m sorry you find yourself dealing with this. It’s the most painful experience thing one spouse can inflict on the other. You are wise to have started with a counselor, and his/her words are true: you cannot control whether your wife continues contact with this man, but there ARE things you can do to protect yourself and hasten the end of the affair.

      I see you have registered on the Marriage Advocates website. You’ll find advice and support from many folks who have been through what you’re facing now. Please let us share our experience with you.

  2. John says:

    Today is just day 3 after “D-Day”. I find it very difficult to discuss any of this with anyone much less in a “Online Forum” but, I have questions that need answers. I have just started to address the situation (devastation) with my spouce and myself. Knowing that this will be with me for the rest of my/our life; how can I begin, not forget it but, to put it behind us and start to move forward. Trust is my biggest issue; Without it there can be no peace of mind and if I continue to hold eveything inside it will never be better.
    John

    • Right here waiting says:

      John, so sorry you find yourself in this awful place. So many of us have been there. First advice I’d share is, “Breathe!” Get your bearings and try to get your brain in charge of your heart.

      After that, I hope you’ll register on Marriageadvocates.com. There are so many of us there who have recovered from the trauma of infidelity…and many who’ve recovered our marriages and have made them better than they were before the affair. We’re there to help, as others helped us. You don’t have to find your way through this on your own.

      Has your wife ended her affair? The advice we’d give depends on knowing that.

  3. Ben says:

    I read your article “Coping with Infidelity: Just Found Out – The First Days”. It has been 10 days since D-Day. I have moved through a lot of emotions and have am working on change…my wife’s affair remains secret, we agreed on my discovering it that that was best for the daughter. She has clandestinely gone to visit him in Europe. I blamed myself. I have started to work on many things – mainly to do with the failings she saw in me at home….the reality is that the change in me must be to move to more independence and higher self esteem following the event. What I am not clear about is that in the latter part of the article it is suggested that I should learn about the other party. This to me would seem to be counter productive…it has the potential to push her further away. What are your thoughts on this.
    many thanks
    Ben

    I’m sorry you find yourself so shocked and hurting. I hope you’ll join us at marriageadvocates.com, where folks who have survived this pain will be happy to share what they’ve learned about getting through this and recovering their marriage. Since you have only very recently learned about your wife’s affair, can you be sure it’s over? A word about learning about the other man…how can you hope to protect your marriage when you have no specifics about whom you’re protecting it? It is also important for your wife to come clean on the details. It will a) help her realize the damage she’s done (most unfaithful partners don’t consider their spouses’ feelings at all); b) help you heal by being transparent; and c) help keep her honest. This isn’t the place to go deeply into it, but I invite you to log on to our site and learn what you can do to help recover your marriage.

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