Written by: Dr. Alyson Nerenberg
Okay, so there was an explosion in your marriage and you are wondering if you should stay. Whether it was a marital affair, the uncovering of an addiction, a financial betrayal or an act of dishonesty, you are feeling lost and wondering if you should stay. Before I give you any advice or suggestions just breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. It is all going to be okay. First off, you do not have to make any decisions right now.
What you do need to do is take care of yourself. Be loving, gentle and kind with yourself as you take some responsibilities off your plate. Whether that means asking a friend or family member to drive your carpool or ordering in dinner, let go of any superfluous responsibilities. You need to treat yourself like you are your own best friend. Get a massage. Go spend time outdoors. When you are outside in nature, you will realize how big and beautiful the whole world is and that your pain is just a small part of it. Your pain will not last forever, although it may feel like it will. Go for a hike. Look at a sunset. Build up your support team. You do not need to handle this alone. This means asking for help and not looking perfectly put together. It is okay to feel like a “hot mess”. Share this with someone you trust. If you do not feel safe sharing it with local friends due to the fact that they are your husband’s friends, too, call your long-distance friends. Summon all of your angels! What I mean by that is call, text or email any of the safe people in your life who unconditionally love you. Ask them to come see you ASAP. The ones that truly love you will. If you had a supportive person who is no longer living such as a deceased parent, grandparent or friend, write to them and ask for their advice. Then write back what you believe they would say. Speaking of writing, begin a journal. Your voice is important. There is meaning in your pain. Write it down. You have more answers than you know. Call a trusted therapist for support. If you don’t have one, call me and I will find you one or see you myself. You do not need to handle the weight of the world alone. Do your best to sleep and eat.
It is okay to set boundaries. Your husband does not need to stay in the house. He can stay in a hotel, with family or with a friend. He can sleep in another bedroom until you feel safe. You can insist that he needs to go to Rehab in order to stay in the marriage. You can take off your ring. You can leave the house if you want to or stay with a friend. You can figure out some of these boundaries with a therapist and they can change as you grow.
My most important take away for you is this: Although this situation sucks and the pain is unavoidable, it does not have to break you! You are more than this pain and you will endure. You have lived a life before this betrayal and you will live a life afterwards. You will survive.