A friend once told me that Marriages are wars of attrition, little things compound over weeks, months and years. There will always be skirmish within ourselves and a plethora of emotions, this is often normal and every day attributes of marriage, but nothing rocks a marriage boat more than infidelity.

If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to know what it’s like to be the victim of infidelity. Still, research statistics aren’t promising: About 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair at some point in their marriage.

Infidelity causes on slaughter of mean-spirited emotions running amok, even for the people who consider themselves strong, moving past the pain can be exhausting. It can never be as easy as everyone makes it sound, there may be a lot of ‘logical’ approaches to dealing with it, but a marriage is more emotional than logical.

Legally, infidelity in a marriage often constitutes two people having a sexual relationship with at least one party being married to someone else. Unfortunately, in real life cheating isn’t so simply defined.

There are many avenues of infidelity ranging from emotional infidelity to physical infidelity which can be in form of one night stands, long term affairs, revenge cheating and online affairs. No matter what form it takes, all types of cheating are devastating to a marriage.

Emotional affairs can sometimes hurt worse than sexual infidelity. Having an emotional affair meant that while your partner did not necessarily have a sexual relationship with this person, their feelings had crossed the line into emotional intimacy. This often involves sharing personal details with this person and treating the connection as they would a romantic relationship.

When we ask our clients what it feels like, there is steady drum rolls of reports with an emotional, physical and sometimes spiritual connotation. If you’ve been the victim of an affair, you know many emotions that follow feel like a hailstorm of pain.

The humiliation of realizing you have been deceived and disrespected, fear of losing familiar way of life, it was, self-doubt that you are not enough, rage that their trusted partner could deceive them, jealousy that ‘the other woman/man’ has what they don’t, is some of what will go through the hurt partner’s mind.

One study reports that being cheated on may negatively affect physical and mental health. Someone whose partner had an affair may experience;

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased distress
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Self-blame or shame
  • Rage
  • Posttraumatic stress (PTSD)
  • Poor performance at work
  • Panic
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Anger
  • Hurt
  • Disappointment
  • Embarrassment
  • Jealousy
  • Lust
  • Resentment
  • Denial
  • Mis-trust

People who are cheated on may also be more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. These behaviors could include having unprotected sex or sex under the influence of drugs. Increased drug or alcohol use may be another one of these behaviors. Overeating, undereating, and over-exercising could also be more likely during this time.

Anxiety after an affair is a painful kick in the guts to an already excruciating experience. Infidelity can bring out the worst in everyone. And unfortunately, anxiety and going through affairs go hand in hand. Whether the affair was emotional or physical, living through this experience on either side of the coin is emotionally draining. You may think you are over the indiscretion, but the truth is experiencing anxiety after an affair is very common and may last a while. The emotions are experienced in cycles, waves of numbing calm and extreme distress wash over at different times, often hitting when least expected, always hitting where it hurts most.

The dance between incredulity and devastating acceptance likely will continue for some time. Often hurt partners will experience symptoms such as disturbed sleep, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, nightmares, memory lapses, isolation, low energy, feeling out of control, impulsiveness, numbness, etc.

Though nothing, except your own decision, can help make things simpler, having a strong support system can help a great deal.

If you are currently going through or have recently gone through infidelity in a marriage, we are here to help you. We work with several people undergoing similar issues, through our group support program. The group support program helps anyone going through this period, with the objective of addressing the trauma to restore balance to self.

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