One of the most common emotions people experience in surviving infidelity is anger. Its important to first have an understanding of what anger really is. If you look at anger from a purely functional perspective its a protective response to a perceived hurt or threat, be it emotional or physical. And there are few things in life more threatening than surviving infidelity.
Discovering an affair can leave you feeling stressed, depressed or both. Your “anger” is more about feeling so overwhelmed that every little thing in their life feels like an enormously challenging burden to be undertaken. Every little thing your partner or others do can feel magnified to the extreme. The TV is too loud, you feel like you are being harassed when the kids want your attention, even an innocent comment from your partner such as “what do you want to do for dinner?” can drive you over the edge. You may even have fantasies of killing or hurting your partner or the person s/he was cheating with.
So, what do you do with all these feelings? As appealing as yelling at your partner might seem its probably not going to do much for you or the relationship in the long run. Without going into all the neurological reasons behind it, the bottom line is that the more you yell or take things out on your partner the more primed you are to keep doing it. In other words, yelling usually leads to more yelling.
And if you really want to save your relationship yelling or fighting is not the way to do it. So lets try to focus on ways to help keep you calm and relaxed. The clearer your head is the more likely you are to deal with things in a productive way and to make the right choices for yourself.
1) Exercise. The first thing I would recommend is for you to get plenty of exercise (check with your doctor first to make sure there are no health issues involved). As much a pain as it might seem try to get some exercise every single day. It’s the best drug available to help keep you calm, focused and sharp. It clears all of the goop out of your brain. You can always find excuses not to exercise, but try an experiment: compare how you feel before you exercise and how you feel after. Keep that difference in mind. No matter how unmotivated you feel, you will always feel better after getting a bit of exercise in.
2) Take Your Vitamins! The second thing I would recommend is to make sure that you are eating right and taking the right vitamin combination. I would very strongly urge you to consider taking a multivitamin in combination with 1000 mg of Vitamin D, 1200 mg of fish oil and 400 mg of SAM-e with food. These are all natural over the counter herbal supplements that work wonders with depression and obsessive thinking. Some people may experience some gastric distress because of the SAM-e. If this turns out to be the case with you I would suggest switching to St. John’s Wort, although please be advised that St. John’s Wort can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. You might also consider talking to your physician about whether taking an anti-depressant medication for 3 – 6 months to help you weather the crisis of discovering an infidelity is appropriate.
3) Fake Smile Technique. A final suggestion for dealing with anger or depression is to practice smiling for fifteen minutes twice a day. I know, the last thing you may feel like doing is smiling right now but even a fake smile is ok. There is a feedback loop from your body to your brain and studies have actually shown that fake smiling for an extended period can cause your brain to think “I’m smiling so I must be happy” and will actually lead you to feel happy. This is such a powerful technique that even people who have been depressed their entire lives and have not responded to medication have felt better after fake smiling for a couple weeks. So try it at home or in the car on the way to work. It really works!
While not a magic cure, following these 3 suggestions will help keep you in a more balanced place as you work on surviving infidelity.
By: Dr. Joe James
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Go here to learn more about surviving infidelity. Dr. Joe James is a psychologist who specializes in anger management and couples therapy in his Maryland marriage counselor office.