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Surviving Infidelity
with Abe Kass, M.A. R.S.W., R.M.F.T.

Five Ways to Deal With the Torturous Thoughts That Come After the Affair

Infidelity is a relationship act that when discovered hurts everyone involved. After an affair has been exposed, the entire family suffers including the children and extended family.

Yet, no one is hurt more than the cheater’s partner. He or she is the main victim. And if this is you — read the following carefully.

When you marry or enter into a committed relationship, whether stated openly or not, there is a clear understanding that your partner will not stray and become intimately involved with another person. When this “promise” is broken, this betrayal shatters you in all ways.

If you have been betrayed by your partner, it’s likely your mind is swamped with thoughts and images regarding what happened and what might occur in the future. Such mental and emotional anguish can not possibly be understood unless someone has gone through it themselves.

People betrayed by their partner find their thoughts and emotions 100% altered: Sleeplessness, crying, thoughts of revenge, rage, helplessness, fear, confusion, worry, and the like are all common forms of emotional suffering.

In some ways, the anguish the betrayed partner feels is even worse than a negative medical diagnosis. At least with a medical diagnosis, there is an entire staff of medical professionals who have ideas as to how to help — there is always some degree of hope. When it comes to infidelity, often the struggle takes place in isolation, and the victim feels confused and overwhelmed with nowhere to turn.

In the past when a crisis occurred, you could turn to your husband or wife or committed partner for advice and comfort. But now, since he or she has cheated on you, you have no rock to hold on to. What has been a comfort to you in the past, is now the greatest source of discomfort.

Your mental and emotional pain is relentless; negative thoughts and feelings intrude day and night; at work and at home; in good moments and bad.

What should you do to calm the storm?

The following are five suggestions to rein in the raging thoughts and feelings that are flooding you:

1. Understand, that your partner’s cheating is NOT your fault
This might be obvious to you if your marriage was seemingly “perfect.” However, it can be confusing if you have had marital problems. Nonetheless, even in a bad marriage cheating is not a legitimate option.

Cheating is not an additional dimension to marital conflict. Cheating is like a nuclear bomb that destroys everything — there is absolutely no good that comes from the act of adultery.

Knowing it is not your fault, is comforting. Remind yourself, whenever you are distraught over what you’re going through that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Fault rests exclusively at the feet of your betraying partner.

2. It is natural for this relationship disease called “infidelity” to infect your entire life
However, it needn’t be so. You have choices in how you think about what has happened. You are more than any problem you are currently experiencing — including the wound of having been betrayed by your partner.

Take a step back, and you will realize that there are many things in your life that are good. For example, perhaps you have amazing children, you have a good job, your life includes many opportunities to help others, you have your faith in God, you have friends, and your life includes many opportunities for change and growth.

3. There is a time to think about how the infidelity has hurt you and how it will impact your future
And there are also times not to think about infidelity. Your thoughts about this relationship crisis need to be contained. Infidelity should not flood your life with worry, anger, guilt, and pain.

You are entitled to be happy — and you should be. Don’t allow yourself to stay in a perpetual “bad mood.”

If you are having trouble stopping your turbulent thoughts about the infidelity during times when you should be focused on other things, which in some cases includes marital reconciliation, you should treat these unwelcome thoughts and feelings as irrational anxiety.

Don’t let your mind consume you with negative thoughts. Take a stand and push them away. Toward that end, I recommend you seek professional help to deal with anxiety and/or get some good self-help books or tapes on how to reduce and eliminate unwanted and intruding anxiety and worry.

4. Use the spiritual resources that are available to you
If you are a member of a faith-based group, you can find great opportunities to strengthen your resolve and commitment to a good and healthy life. If you are a deep thinker, work on an all-inclusive narrative, a story, that helps you live well regardless of what your partner did. If you are a meditator, use the power of your mind to still your thoughts and feelings.

Spiritual resources are powerful and for many people will make the difference between living a life of peace and one of turmoil.

5. Infidelity is one of the relationship diseases that is very difficult to overcome without professional help
It is possible to do it alone, but not probable.

Seek professional help from a caring and competent relationship specialist. Not just any mental health professional will do. You need to find someone who has the training and experience to deal with relationship betrayal and its aftermath.

The mental and emotional anguish that you suffer from is the after-effects of having been betrayed by the very person who you believed you could trust the most.

You are not responsible for all the pain you are suffering. It has been caused by your betraying partner. Nonetheless, you need to help yourself with your own healing.

Just as if you were a passenger in a car involved in an accident that caused an injury, you would do whatever it takes to get healthy again. The same is true for having been injured by your partner’s philandering. Take responsibility for your recovery and well-being — do something positive.

Mental clarity is essential to deal with the unwanted thoughts and feelings that threaten to overwhelm you. Know the truth about what happened and use the resources available to still the troubled waters that are threatening to drown you.

Know you are good and deserve a healthy and happy life — regardless of what your partner has done. With the right effort, this can and will be achieved.

Want more help surviving infidelity? Visit our Marriage Builders Relationship Book Store

Five Ways to Deal With the Torturous Thoughts That Come After the Affair

Abe Kass

Abe Kass, M.A., R.S.W., R.M.F.T. is a registered marriage and family therapist, a registered social worker, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, and the author of more than a dozen books designed to help couples and individuals live a more loving, more satisfying life.

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APA Reference
Kass, A. (2017). Five Ways to Deal With the Torturous Thoughts That Come After the Affair. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Sep 2017
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