A few weeks have passed since the Ashley Madison hack with 37 million emails released. Now what kind of impact has this really had? I am not talking about money. I am talking about the carnage of broken relationships and lives. Let’s say out of the 37 million one third were people with more than one account, the account was out dated, both spouses were registered users, or their partner really didn’t care. That leaves us with 24 million married couples. Let’s say each couple has 2.5 children, which brings us to a total of 60 million. Each spouse has a set of parents, but let’s say only half the parents care or are close to the adult child who had the affair. Now, that gives us 120 million people impacted. We will not even get into siblings or extended family. To put this into perspective, this is the size of not just a large city but a population slightly smaller than Japan or Mexico. This is also about one third of the population of the United States.
The fallout is really beyond comprehension for the present and the years to come, as some of these marriages will end in divorce which impacts the world personally and professionally. If you are on the receiving end of a spouse who has had an affair, I want you to know that there is hope. Here are 20 things to consider.
- Even though you may feel alone, the numbers above indicate you are not alone.
- Realize and embrace the fact that you have been victimized. However, you cannot stay here for too long. Give yourself some time to experience victimization but do not stay here permanently. Allow yourself to move through the stages of grief.
- Be aware your mind, body, soul, heart and spirit, as you may experience trauma that is similar to having been in a bad car accident.
- Take care of yourself by eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep – even if this is the opposite of what you might feel like doing.
- Ask for help. After a car accident or any trauma, it is wise to ask for help and allow professionals and people who have walked this road ahead of you assist you. Seek help from people who specialize in infidelity, affairs, sex addiction, marital restoration, intimacy anorexia and recovery.
- At times, it is wise to have 3 therapists involved in your recovery: one for you, your spouse and the marriage. Each having your own therapist without a third therapist working with you both together will actually increase your chance of divorce.
- It is appropriate to request space from your spouse with an in-house or out-of-house temporary separation.
- It is not uncommon to still love your spouse but be very angry at them.
- It is wise to want to know the truth and expect honesty from your spouse as well as to verify the truth with a polygraph test. At Transformed Hearts, we utilize a therapeutic polygraph, not a criminal polygraph. Finding a qualified polygraph examiner can be challenging and possibly detrimental to your marriage if a false positive occurs and the polygraph examiner is improperly trained in this type of polygraph. We recommend and utilize Proof Positive (http://transformedhearts.com/services/polygraphs/), as they have plenty of experience with this type of therapeutic polygraph.
- It is not uncommon to want to know graphic information; however, it is not usually a wise choice. You will not forget the information shared.
- During this time, it is not uncommon for couples to be hypersexual with each other.
- During this time, it is also not uncommon to do things you would have never done in an effort to “win” your spouse back. However, this usually is short lived, as this behavior may cause you to betray your core values.
- During this time, it is also not uncommon to not be sexual at all.
- Realize your spouse’s affair is not your fault. It is not about you being handsome, beautiful, sexy enough, good enough, or loving enough. Your spouse chose to step out on you for reasons outside of your control. You are powerless and free from the burden and responsibility of their actions.
- Do not let your spouse’s shame become your shame.
- Do not believe your spouse’s secret needs to also become your secret.
- “Getting even” by going out and having your own affair will most likely hurt you more than your cheating spouse. Not one of my clients who have done this believe it was a wise thing to do.
- Once married, the two become one. Your spouse’s cheating problem is not just theirs, it is also yours. Couples who work recovery together are more likely to stay together. Find a program that has as much support for you as it does for your spouse.
- Recovery is potentially the most difficult work to do but also the most rewarding work you will ever do. You have as much work to do as your spouse.
- Unlike any other recovery process, recovering from an affair exposes the ugliness in your spouse’s heart as well as your heart. This ugliness in your heart was not created by the affair. It just exposes what was always there.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.