5 Surprising Emotions From an Affair

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5 Surprising Emotions From an Affair

What feelings come to mind when you think about the possibility of your spouse or significant other cheating on you? I am sure just even having that thought makes your blood boil or your stomach turn. Rightfully so, because the thought of your partner betraying you elicits anger, sadness and possibly even fear. There is nothing positive about the unfaithfulness of a partner; though there are some surprising emotions that can be experienced.

Let’s explore five surprising emotions one can feel when they have found out their partner has been unfaithful. Additionally, here's a worksheet to help you work through your emotions. 

1. Shame/ Humiliation

You would think that the person who committed infidelity would be the one feeling shame or humiliation but the victim in the situation very well can experience this emotion. You may find yourself replaying your entire relationship and seeking answers as to why this happened. Questioning where you went wrong and seeking proof as to how it “must be your fault.” Also, the shame of having family and friends find out can be very overwhelming. To feel humiliated that your marriage was not as strong as you might have portrayed it to be.

2. Emptiness

Often times people misinterpret emptiness as sadness. But emptiness is really the absence of feelings. You feel void. Nothing is present. Hollow. This is the psychological mechanism of protecting your mental wellbeing from the shock of the reality of what your partner has done.

3. Possession

This, I feel, is the most shocking of the five emotions for people. The thought of wanting to be possessive of someone who has just betrayed you seems completely backward. But it is not unlikely if you feel the need to draw your partner closer and want to claim them as your’s; not as a piece of property to take ownership but a stake in the commitment you had both made. Feelings of wanting them back and not wanting to let others take them away.

4. Annoyance

You can feel irritated, thinking “they are stupid” for throwing the marriage away by engaging in such a negligent act. Annoyed that they were so foolish and careless. Feeling disappointed in their lack of judgment and annoyed that you trusted them to be more committed to your relationship.

5. Relief

This is felt because maybe you had a feeling that something wasn't right but you weren't sure. You felt like something was going on but couldn’t put your finger on it but then when you found out, you were able to put a name to it, process it and work towards a resolution. Some people might even be relieved because they feel they now have a justified reason to finally leave an otherwise unhappy marriage, often found among religious couples.

No matter what emotions you are experiencing, it is important to let yourself feel them. Give yourself permission to do so and tell yourself that it's okay. Don't push it away because that does not do you any good. Those emotions are still there and they need to be processed. Give yourself room to feel and process these emotions; however, don't let yourself dwell. It's healthy to either journal or talk to someone like your spouse or a professional when you feel you are dwelling and getting stuck.

Click here for a worksheet to help yourself begin the process of expressing your feelings. As always, if you have any questions or feedback I would love to hear from you!

8 Causes of Infidelity and Betrayal

There are common signs or factors that can potentially lead to infidelity and I want to discuss those here with you because this can be helpful for those of you who might be a marriage where it may not be great and infidelity has not occurred but the possibility is not out of reach. It is important to not take our marriage for granted, also to be aware of the emotional state of our marriage.

What is Infidelity?

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What is Infidelity?

Having counseled numerous couples, you can imagine the number of times I have heard the sad reports of infidelity and the destruction it caused in marriages. According to researchers, 30-60% of all married individuals in the U.S will engage in infidelity at some point in their relationship. That is a pretty big percentage! Many of the couples I have worked with have reported saying that if their spouse ever cheated they would leave in a heartbeat, yet when it actually happened that statement seemed harder than they thought. Infidelity is a very complicated situation and there are many facets that need to be considered when trying to process through the aftermath.

But first we must define and fully understand what infidelity is. By definition infidelity is the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner. However, the term “unfaithful” can be subjectively determined, therefore, making it very difficult to have a “one size fits all” description for infidelity. Due to the nature of our current technological world, the opportunities and ways of being unfaithful are numerous; though on the flip side, it then can make it very difficult to keep it hidden for too long because of these technological advances.

When people think about infidelity or cheating, they typically think about a sexual betrayal but more and more people are realizing there are many other ways one can be unfaithful or cheat on their spouse. Physical unfaithfulness is the most obvious and apparent forms of infidelity. There is some form of sexual encounter with another person, this can happen via extramarital affair or a paid service. Even flirting with someone other than your spouse can be considered a betrayal. Physical proximity and touch with another can cross a boundary that is considered inappropriate to some people. The other major form of infidelity is emotional unfaithfulness and can be argued to be even more painful and hurtful to the one being cheated on than a physical betrayal. When they both occur it is a double whammy betrayal and the hurt is that much more intensified.

An emotional affair is one where someone seeks the affection and attention from someone other than their spouse. People might not even realize at first that they are engaging in such an affair because it can begin so innocently. It may happen by engaging in a friendship that turns out to be a place you now find validation and the need for attention satisfied. So rather than your spouse fulfilling that need, you have found it with someone else and initially not even realize it. However, at some point you will discover a line has been crossed and often if left unchecked this emotional affair will become physical. This is where the life long debate of being able to engage in a platonic relationship with the opposite sex is even possible. Nevertheless, when two people are involved in a committed relationship (i.e. marriage) and they stray physically or emotionally, seeking to meet needs with someone other than their spouse, infidelity has occurred.

Esther Perel identifies three elements that lie at the heart of all infidelity. These three elements are secrecy, sexual chemistry (sexual activity is not necessary but very well could be present) and emotion. The structure of infidelity is secrecy. There should be no secrets between you and your spouse (unless you’re planning a surprise party for him/her) because this creates a disconnect in your relationship and the break down of trust begins. If you yourself are keeping secrets then you know that your spouse shouldn’t completely trust you because you are withholding information from them. Thus, this then can create some doubt about whether or not your spouse is also keeping secrets from you and the undeniable trust you hope to have in your marriage is now questionable. Honesty is really the best policy. Loyalty is another area of betrayal. We should always have our spouses back and know that they have ours. Regardless if you agree about something, you should stand by their side and never talk behind their back. Once you begin to talk about your spouse to someone else (specifically the opposite sex) you begin to step on that slippery slop of an emotional affair. To find out your spouse has confided in someone else about emotional issues and details of your marriage, that most certainly can feel like a hurtful betrayal. Infidelity hurts and it can throw you for an emotional tail spin for sure BUT it does not have to be a deal breaker. There is hope after a betrayal. Next blog coming will be on the “why” of infidelity and the emotions, hurts and pain of the betrayal and what to do with it. Like always, feel free to contact me for any questions or feedback you have. If you are suffering from the pain of infidelity or you yourself are struggling to stop falling into unfaithful behavior I would be more than happy to help you find the support and help you need!

 

 

How to Cope with Anxiety

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How to Cope with Anxiety

For the last couple of weeks, I have been discussing anxiety and worry. My blogs and Facebook Live’s (click if you want to follow me to see these live’s) have been focused on the symptoms of anxiety, the various diagnoses of anxiety and know how to cope with anxiety. So many people suffer from anxiety symptoms and often times feel all alone and at a loss with how to deal with it effectively. I am going to break down the various ways anxiety is primarily dealt with, along with skills and strategies for overcoming or managing the symptoms.

Many times people who suffer from anxiety report an overwhelming sense of worry and fear thoughts, which then can trigger or follow physical symptoms of anxiety (i.e. racing heart, sweats, feeling shaky or uneasy, etc). In order to cope with these thoughts of worry and fear, we need to learn how to gain control of our mind. This is certainly easier said than done. It would be wonderful if we could get an on/off switch implanted and simply push the button when it best suites us, but this can not be, so we need to find another way. This other way is typically found in the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, Mindfulness, relaxation techniques, prayer, established healthy habits, medication, etc. 

Let me talk to you briefly about our mind and how it works (in a very general, nonscientific, simplistic way) to help gain a better understanding of how some of these coping strategies can work. 


Let me ask you, did you shower today? And if you did, can you tell me in order what you washed, how to completed it and how long for? Now you might have some idea of an order in which you routinely wash yourself, however, I am willing to bet that you did not think about every step of the process while washing did you? You might have been more focused on the meeting you have at work today or the song you are so wonderfully singing in the shower or thinking about what you are going to eat for breakfast. Regardless of what was on your mind, I am willing to bet it was not: “ok, now I have to wash my arms, the front and back, now my hands, in-between each finger, next I need to wash my legs, front and back, now to my toes, in between each toe, etc.” NO! It is something we do automatically due to a routine so we do not have to consciously think about each move. 

If that example did not resonate with you, how about this one: Driving. Do you remember when you first drove a car? Oh. My. Word! I still remember what it felt like to make my first turn and to stop and accelerate those first few times. If you were anything like me, you might have given your teacher whiplash and an adrenaline rush. When we first learn, we need to think about every. single. step. otherwise, we could end up in a ditch or t-boned with another car. Our brain had to consciously think of each step as we learned but now it is automatic. You are not thinking about every move and I am willing to bet you don't think too much about how to get home because it is something so familiar you don't need to put forth much brain power. 

Well, the same is true with our thoughts. As we grow and mature, we take in the world and our surroundings and we make judgments about ourselves, others and the world. These judgments become beliefs. Once they are beliefs, then we do not need to think too hard about them because they are now ingrained in our mind and serve as the basis for which we perceive life. This is a wonderful way our brain works because it saves us a great deal of energy by storing this information in a way that allows us to know it and utilize it without having to think of every single step or belief. Life would be exhausting if we had to recount all our beliefs and each step of routine things such as showering, driving, etc. However, the downfall is when we have adopted false truths and negative beliefs about ourselves, others and life. This is where we can experience issues and anxiety can become an issue. 


Cognitive 

CBT

This method is very successful with treating anxiety and depression because it teaches people how to identify thoughts and eliminate or decrease the irrational and negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic and logical/positive thoughts. These techniques help people slow down the automatic flow of the mind so that you are able to “see” how these thoughts are there and affecting your behaviors and feelings. All too often we do not recognize some of the various irrational thoughts that run through our mind because they have been there so long we don't realize they are there forming beliefs that create or exacerbate the anxiety (and depression). The ways in which I help people do this is by giving various homework assignments that are brought into session to go over and process. Some homework assignments include: 

  • Thought record sheets: these help you track your feelings, situation, and thoughts in a specific way to help slow the automatic process down to facilitate the recognition of the thoughts that are occurring. 
  • Daily Activity sheets: these track what you are doing but also record your sleep and eating habits as well. It is important to understand how sleep and food affect your mood and thoughts.
  • Thought chart: this is where I tell my clients to take their thoughts to court- show me proof for and against your thoughts. This helps clients gain perspective on the validity of their thoughts.

And the list can go on…but you can see where CBT takes you. You are taking a slo-mo video of your thought life to help see where you are going astray and how it can be affecting your anxiety. 


This helps you learn what triggers your anxiety. I often have clients write in a journal when they’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.

FAITH/ SCRIPTURE

Many clients I see identify with the Christian faith and desire to utilize it in the counseling process. For these clients, we use CBT techniques but also incorporate Scripture into the process. Finding scriptures that speak to them for their individual needs and using that as the replaced thought is very helpful. 

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares (anxieties) on Him because he cares for you.”


Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God.”

Praying and learning to hand over their worries and cares over to God is something we focus on as well. Making the prayer specific and narrowing down the vague and general anxiety into a focused and specific prayer request gives people the opportunity to see God work and to lighten the load of the burden anxiety brings. Again, easier said than done. Our mind is a powerful thing and it can be very difficult to gain control over it, nevertheless, it can be done with diligent effort and of course with the help and strength of God for those who believe. 


Physical

REDIRECTION  

So many times people find comfort in simple distraction. If they can distract themselves from their thoughts then they often find the anxiety will go away.

There are many ways you can distract yourself to take a time-out- a break from your routine:

  • Practice yoga
  • Listen to music 
  • Meditate
  • Get a message
  • Learn relaxation techniques.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.

 

EATING AND SLEEPING HABITS  

  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Do not skip any meals
  • Keep healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand— no sugary processed snacks/foods
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.


MEDICATION

Of course, there is always medication for those who feel it is needed. There are various ones that can help with your symptoms. You would need to talk with your doctor about this. Prescribing medication is not in my job description. 


I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or are looking for help to manage your anxiety, I am to assist you in any way I can! You are not alone if you are experiencing anxiety- so many millions of Americans suffer from anxiety- don't deal with it alone. Reach out and get help.