What if you had to learn how to survive infidelity in a completely different way than most everyone else?
No happy Hollywood-ending here.
You tried counseling, affair survival eBooks, courses and tried out all the tips you learned to save the marriage…
…but nothing worked.
Either your spouse cheated then left, or you had no choice, but to divorce.
Few understand this on the web better than me.
Mine left unannounced.
Perhaps you know my infidelity story.
I’ve read numerous emails from visitors who shared their traumatizing, but true infidelity stories, and it’s no wonder than some marriages have no chance of survival.
The depths someone will go to run to greener pastures blows my mind.
Call me optimistic, but I want to believe that all relationships can be saved even after cheating.
But, let’s be real. Some cannot.
And now you find yourself lost without a compass and you want advice on how to survive infidelity emotionally and to build a new life alone.
I can help because I did it.
And I know it may sound strange to you, but my life right now is better than ever.
At the end of my marriage, before she left, I carried large debt, hated where I lived, hated my job and my life was on a crash course headed to depression.
But I turned it around.
And so can you.
I will share my personal experiences in other posts and in my emails (if you decide to subscribe to my newsletter).
Or feel free to contact me personally. I respond to all my emails within 24-48 hours.
[Take Poll] The Challenge of How to Survive Infidelity Alone
Does Anyone Else Have to Learn How to Survive Infidelity Alone after their Spouse Leaves…or is it just me?
What Happens When You Cannot Save Your Marriage?
It recently came to my attention that I needed to help other betrayed spouses, like yourself, learn how to survive infidelity in the way I did.
Look all over the internet and all you find is advice how to save the marriage.
In some cases you run into websites run by affair survivors who suggest that the affair helped bring them closer.
They actually have the gull to try and convince you that somehow that when their spouse cheated that became the best thing that ever happened to their relationship.
I don’t know about you, but the affair was anything, BUT the best thing for my relationship.
My marriage ended when she left in February 2015.
And now enough is enough.
After the piles of emails and reading up on forums, Facebook groups and other blogs it became apparent that I needed to start a new branch of content on InfidelityFirstAidKit.com
A few weeks ago I reached out to renown marriage counselor Dr. Gunzburg from Baltimore, Maryland, who specializes in couples stricken by affairs.
I brought him on to do an exclusive interview on InfidelityFirstAidKit.com just for you.
But today he offers advice you hardly find on the internet, and certainly no where in his current published guides or online articles.
Today my friends, we receive some rare, professional advice on how to survive infidelity after your spouse leaves, via spousal abandonment and/or divorce and you end up alone.
How to Survive Infidelity after Your Spouse Leaves: Heal Emotionally, Start a New Life, Find Purpose Again
Exclusive Interview with Counselor Dr. Frank Gunzburg and Author of “How to Survive an Affair”
I decided to conduct a text-based interview since it is easier for you to read and busy people like Dr. Gunzburg and me to complete. Perhaps later when I start to have more time to dedicate to my blog I will do podcasts and audio interviews.
Dr. Gunzburg carefully took his time to answer all the questions I emailed him.
Here below we both provide you with some of the most useful suggestions how to survive infidelity emotionally and how to rebuild you life when your spouse is no longer around.
1. Life without Purpose:
“He/She was my everything. We had plans together. I feel lost. My life seems aimless now. I desperately need advice how to survive infidelity alone.”
“Dr. Gunzburg how would you advise someone to deal with the reality that their spouse left, is not coming back and now they feel like their life has no direction?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
“Don’t make someone your everything, because when they leave you’ll be nothing.”
When I encounter a situation like this in my office, the bereft person usually still has some hope that the relationship can be saved and is tortured, vacillating between hope and despair.
The sooner the person comes to grips with the reality that the spouse is gone, the sooner he or she can begin the healing process.
Deciding when the situation is hopeless is often a difficult one. I have been involved with couples where the man left to live with another woman. Even here, there are unusual instances where the husband eventually returns home, the wife is willing, and they work on their marriage together.
Even in this unusual situation, it still takes an extended period before the husband is authentically working on the marriage. And, of course, the wife has to maintain her self-esteem during this period even when she is given the direct or indirect message that she is the consolation prize.
My advice is to act for yourself and do what maintains your self-esteem without your spouse. Involve yourself with family, friends, your work, recreational activities, and hobbies. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. If you think this is too difficult on your own, you might need to seek help, either in a self-help program or work with a professional.
2. Daily Routine Struggles: Nothing to Look Forward to
“Every day is a struggle. I feel depressed at work, get lost in my thoughts while driving, have trouble sleeping and do not even look forward to going out anymore.”
“It becomes very challenging to learn the best ways on how to survive infidelity when you struggle to complete even the smallest tasks. What can they do to get back on track?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
When someone struggles to do even the smallest task, we have to consider that the person might be significantly depressed. If so, it’s possible that psychotherapy or even medications might be appropriate.
Things you can do on your own to come out of the pit include exercise, particularly aerobics. Even taking walks at a speed that pushes you at least a little can be helpful. If you’re in shape, jog or do jumping jacks.
I understand that this might be the last thing you would want to do when you feel like that, but dragging yourself out to be active is helpful. If the weather prevents you from going outside, just walk around a mall or a grocery store or go up and down flights of stairs wherever you can find them.
Find social activities. Ask friends to go out with you. Listen to up-beat music and go to movies or entertainment you think will make you laugh.
You can no longer count on your spouse to “cover your back” and you have to push yourself to do for yourself. This is a battle with your own will. The words you use and the way you talk to yourself are really important.
If you are religious, talk to your clergy and you might find social or support groups in your congregation to hang around with.
Take this time to pursue an old hobby or find a new interest to learn about. Take classes or learn with DVDs or online. Artistic ventures are often good for expressing and working out your pent-up feelings. Nowadays, there are paint-and-sip classes, but you should check out that you are not attending a class intended for couples.
Find classes for meditation, Tai Chi, or progressive relaxation. If you can’t find or can’t afford classes, they are available on CD and DVD at your local library, on YouTube, and there are plenty of online subscriptions and classes. If you learn and practice one of these techniques, it will strengthen your brain/mind.
Eat healthy foods. You are an organism and you function better when you are properly nourished. Go for foods that are rich in anti-oxidants, keep yourself hydrated by drinking fluids, primarily water, and avoid over-indulgences.
If you are angry, you could indulge that for a short period, but not long because you get better at whatever you practice. Be careful what you practice.
Talk your situation over with a friend or buddy, but not for too long at any one sitting and not every time you meet (remember about what you practice). Be certain, too, to ask about and allow time for your friend to talk.
Allow yourself time to grieve before you start dating again. The longer your relationship lasted, the longer you should wait before you date.
3. Emotional Triggers/Reminders
“I am reminded of him/her everywhere I go: the places we dined together, the parks we took the kids to and the songs we listened to. How can I let go of or at least limit these triggers?”
“I can tell you from experience that even after rebuilding my life and feeling strong enough to create my own blog to help others, I still experience these triggers. And they come unexpectedly. How would you recommend dealing with them as they happen?
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
You are a human being with emotions. You can let them happen, notice what these feelings are and let yourself experience them. Over time, replace the old experiences with new ones in the same or similar circumstances so they over-stamp the old triggers.
You can also mentally practice rewinding your mental video-tape of the trigger or imagine the trigger situation while listening to or watching music or a movie that is completely incongruous to the trigger and your love loss.
The process of these last few suggestions is to break the pattern you established of getting upset when experiencing the trigger. Give yourself the opportunity to have a different experience when the trigger occurs.
4. Jealousy of Happy Couples
“Why can’t I have what everyone else has? I didn’t ask for much, just someone to spend time with- a soulmate. And now he/she is gone and I am stuck watching all the smiley, happy couples holding hands loving life around me.”
“It took me a while to get over this challenge myself. Comparing ourselves to others is counter-productive, but it’s natural and normal to feel this way. What productive ways to deal with these jealous-based comparisons that we bombard ourselves with do you suggest?
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
The way I understand your question, this is a specific case of the triggers you asked about in the last question. My answer is the same. Work with jealousy as the result of certain triggers. Also, focus on the positives in your life. No matter what bad things happen to you, you always have some parts of your life that are going well. Remind yourself you have your whole life to get over this and to move on. It will happen sooner than you think, but don’t rush yourself and don’t pressure yourself to be over it already.
5. Loneliness, Finding Love Again and Mistrust
“These lonely nights are killing me. I want to have someone again. How will I know when I am ready to date again? How can I trust anyone after living through an affair?”
“This is a big one for most of us learning how to survive infidelity alone and want to start over. How do you actually know when you are ready to date again? How can you find a way to trust someone else? You fear investing precious time just to have your heart broken again.”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
We are built to protect ourselves by recognizing situations similar to when we were hurt before. We are built to want love. After infidelity, these urges conflict with each other. You want to date again and you’re afraid to.
The waiting time will depend on how long your relationship lasted. Was it a whirlwind month-long relationship? Were you married for 30 years and have children together? The length and depth of your broken relationship will impact on how much healing you need.
When are you ready? To be ready, you’ll want to feel good about yourself. By that, I mean you can go through days, or even weeks, where you are focusing on the good in your life. The one who broke the promise had to lie and cheat to get there, and didn’t ask for your permission, consent, or advice on the path to cheating, and now you don’t have to wait around for that person to repair a broken character.
I also suggest you analyze your own behaviors in your prior relationships. Can you realistically point out a few of your own problem behaviors, such as parts of your personality that others might complain about? Are you actively working on improving yourself?
Another major consideration is if you can socialize without acting sad, talking about your ex, or getting on a soap-box about problem relationships.
6. No One to Talk With, No One Understands
“I don’t know anyone personally who has experienced infidelity who could understand what I have gone through. It makes me feel alone and I fear others might feel strange talking with me.”
“Dr. Gunzburg how do you suggest infidelity and/or divorce survivors to build a support system? Or which traits would define the ideal friend to speak with on how to survive infidelity alone after their spouse leaves?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
While the emotional wound is still fresh, you would want to talk with your best friend(s) about your experience. Ideally, someone of your own sex, who is supportive of your best interest, understanding and compassionate.
I specify “your own sex” because this is an emotionally vulnerable time and you wouldn’t want the complicating variable of sex with a close friend interfering with your recovery.
Like I said in answering the last question, you don’t want your complaining and analyzing of what went wrong to go on for too long a period of time. You don’t want to get stuck in defining yourself as the person who was cheated on or the person who was rejected in the last relationship. And, you don’t want others defining you like that.
7. Heavy Blow to Self-Esteem, “Is there something wrong with me?”
“Is it normal to feel rejected? After all he/she was so affectionate and in-love with me before. Then they left me for someone else. Will someone else love me for who I am?”
“Like all of the “how to survive infidelity” guides suggest, you must not see your spouse’s decision to cheat as them choosing someone else over you. Personally, I always saw my cheating wife as broken. Only a broken person would choose a secretive, risky second-life as a way to cope with their own internal strife. What are some suggestions that you have to avoid drowning in self-pity and managing your own healthy level of self-esteem?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
You refer to your ex-wife as “broken.” I believe someone who is unfaithful is often immature, which is one kind of “broken”, or of defective character, another kind of broken, which is probably worse.
The natural sequence of events creates a further complication. When one is early “in love,” there are neuro-chemical activities in the body that support that feeling boosting it to feel very exciting.
After you’ve been together for a while and created a strong emotional bond, your blood chemistry changes to support the security and bonded feelings you now experience. There are people who experience this as a decrease in, or even loss of sexual excitement and mistakenly think the only way to renew this wonderful excitement is with someone new.
8. How to Survive Infidelity after Broken Dreams and Promises: Reality Check Time
“This is a living nightmare. I never imagined this happening to me. We had so many dreams and goals together. What a bunch of garbage and broken promises! Does ‘happily-ever-after’ even exist?”
“At the beginning of the relationship it felt like a dream. It fit right into what I had imagined for all my life- someone to enjoy my best moments together. And I had someone with whom to fight through the challenging times in life. Others reading this can certainly relate to this feeling. How can they still maintain hope of a happy, healthy relationship with someone in the future, especially if they are currently not dating?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
Trust is a common issue after you’ve been cheated on. You started out in love, and sometimes feeling or thinking you were “not like other couples” regarding your commitment and honesty. Often, couples have pre-marriage discussions about what would we do if. . . And, of course, when there is no real situation to deal with, one can fix everything with fantasy solutions and “perfect” agreements.
For example, the injured person might remind the cheater, “Remember, we promised each other that if we were even thinking of going outside the marriage, we would tell the other first.” Or, “Remember, you said this could never happen with us because we’re different because. . .”
So, here it is, the one person who would “never, ever” do this to you, did it to you. Now, you are moving on and there’s a new person in your life making similar commitments and you’re having similar love feelings. Love feelings like you had last time for the person who broke your heart.
Your own self-talk will help determine your state of mind. You hear yourself talk more than you hear anyone else talking to you. You’ll want to remind yourself that the rest of your life is ahead of you.
If you can’t understand the importance of that, read the story of Heather and David Mosher who were married December 22. 2017 in hospital. She and her fiancé/husband knew she was on her deathbed. She died 18 hours after the wedding. Look at the pictures and you can see that even those 18 hours were wonderful for her. Most probably you have many more than 18 hours ahead of you and you can still create a wonderful life for yourself.
Begin thinking of what you want for yourself, regardless whether you’re coupled or not. Mentally argue against yourself when you think that person was the only one who could or would love you so deeply.
9. Shame and Embarrassment to Seek Professional Help
“There’s only so much I can do on my own. I’ve read the books, watched the videos and gotten all the self-healing advice out there, but I don’t feel strong enough to know how to survive infidelity alone. However, I feel embarrassed to seek professional help.”
“You must swallow a heap of pride to seek professional “how to survive infidelity” help in dealing with the emotional pain of being cheated on. The pain magnifies when you include divorce or possibly even abandonment, like in my case. It’s intimidating to ask for a therapist’s help. Do you recommend any steps to overcome this fear? And how do you find the right counselor or therapist to help an affair and/or divorce survivor to cope with rebuilding their life?
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
Too many people think asking for help is telling the world you’re a failure or a love reject. Today, with the help of telephone and the internet, you can find counseling that is so private no one would know you were asking for help unless you told.
Some people begin in a situation of comfort or familiarity. For example, asking a minister or rabbi for advice and referral, if appropriate. Some people trust the information with a best friend for advice and referral. You would probably be surprised how many people have experienced counseling.
Over my years of experience, a large number of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have come to me for counseling. I mention this for two reasons. First, to help you understand that, as a professional community, we believe in what we do. Second, these people come for help even though their own clients might see them walking into my office.
You can find professionals who accept your insurance for some part of the payment, or perhaps you’d rather pay cash to remain more anonymous. I believe credit cards are also anonymous in today’s world because you don’t know where the actual processing occurs and when the transactions are processed the stream of data is enormous.
Many counselors will let you do a three- or four-minute “interview” on the phone, where you can ask questions. The natural talking “chemistry” between you and the counselor will be helpful. Some people are just easier than others to communicate with.
10. Contacting Dr. Frank Gunzburg
“What do you suggest someone do who would like your assistance? How do you prefer to be contacted if someone would like to receive professional guidance from you?”
Dr. Frank Gunzburg:
If you think you want to work with me, please call my cell phone at +1 (410) 961-9091. We can go over pricing and scheduling. Payment is by credit card.
If you want a single communication, you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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