Ask Affaircare: How Do I Get through the Holidays?

AskAffaircare

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


Our email question today comes from a spouse who needs hope for the holidays, who writes:

I just read through the steps that you’ve sent me.  I just found out the truth a couple weeks ago, I’ve definitely failed in a few things. We are Christian and I’m little by little holding on to God’s promises; I’m still in shock. Definitely on a roller coaster. My failure is that I’m crying a lot; and hard to function day to day. So, my Disloyal Spouse is probably not looking at me like I’m anyone to come home to. BTW, my Disloyal came back one day after Discovery Day, and wants to work this out. So, my question is, do I ask my Disloyal to leave temporarily so I can deal with my emotions better. We have 3 children; two teenagers and one tweenager. Our oldest is coming home from college end of the week. Christmas is days away and I’m trying to rack my brain and emotions on how to have somewhat of a new normal and not destroy everyone’s Christmas because of my grief??  Hope this isn’t too much info. Just trying to cope.

Dear Hope for the Holidays,

I am so sorry that we are meeting under circumstances like this.  I’m sure it just feels impossible to deal with an affair and also deal with all the pressures of the holidays as well.  As Christmas comes around, people have SO MANY expectations and feel the pressure to have perfect travels, to have all the family get together, to get the perfect gift for everyone, to decorate perfectly, to cook perfect holiday meals, to spend more than they have, to make people happy, and to be perfect!  In real life, people are not perfect, holidays are not perfect, and spending beyond your means does not make happiness!!  So here are a few tips for you to help you get through Christmas and also cope with an affair.  Bear in mind these tips are not necessarily directly from a bible verse–they are just good, common-sense suggestions:

1) Do not ask your Disloyal Spouse to leave if they are repentant and willing to work on reconciliation. This year is going to be different than other years, and yet if your Disloyal has ended their affair, has cut off all contact with the Other Person (OP) and is actively committed to reconciliation and working hard, I would say stay in the same house and “be there” for each other.  Both of you are going to be dealing with emotions and struggling, and you can support your Disloyal, and they can support you.

If your Disloyal Spouse is still active in the affair, if they are unrepentant, if they are not committed 100% to you and the marriage, if they are still in contact with the OP, or if they not willing to work on reconciling (for example, if they are trying to rugsweep and “pretend it didn’t happen”), then I would say it may be wiser to ask your Disloyal to leave until they have ended the affair and are willing to commit 100% of their affection and loyalty to you and only you!

2) Let people know you are sad–don’t try to hide it. This is part of learning how to be transparently honest, and it’s also a lesson in letting people give to you and support you.  The truth is that you are upset.  You are struggling and hurting.  Now you don’t have to divulge every detail or use the affair to hurt or humiliate your Disloyal Spouse, but there is no reason you couldn’t let your children and/or extended family members know that this has been a tough year for you for personal reasons, and that this year you may not be as “sparkly” as you usually are. Let people see the ‘Real You’ not some fake image–that is what transparent honesty is all about: letting others in to know your real thoughts and feelings.  So practice what you expect of your Disloyal Spouse–be transparent with the people who love you–your family.

3) Ask for what you need.  Are you having a day where you just need a break–not a full stop but just a temporary halt to the merry-go-round?  Are you feeling a little insecure and a hug would help? Are you just exhausted from not being able to turn your mind off, and you need a nap?  So often we need fairly reasonable, simple things that would really help, but we expect our spouse to “just know” (somehow)! Or sometimes we just don’t know WHAT we need! This would be a great time of year to just ask for what you need. If you don’t know what you need, think about it: “What would make me feel better right now?”  My point here is that rather than expecting your spouse to read your mind, setting them up for failure, and setting yourself up for disappointment, SPEAK OUT LOUD.  Ask, “Would you be willing to give me a break?  I just need about 30 minutes to myself to re-gather my energies.”  Ask, “Would you be willing to fend off the kids so I could take a hot bath? It would really help me to relax!”  Ask, “Would you be willing to tell me 3 things about me that you love that made you want to come back to me?  I’m feeling a little insecure and I could use a little reassurance.”  Just ask!

4) Keep expectations low.  This one is SO HARD!!!  We expect so much during the Holiday Season!!  World Peace. No family fighting. Everyone getting along in a spirit of love and joy.  Endless finances. Perfect decorations.  The house stays clean all the time.  Everyone is thoughtful and finds JUST the right gift. Everyone is THRILLED when they open their present.  The cookies are golden brown or chocolatey and never ending….. AND our holiday clothing fits perfectly and no one ever gets dirty.  How can anyone do all that?  This year, you know what?  Admit your humanity.  This year, have pizza for dinner–why not!!??  Your kids will remember that Christmas FOREVER!  Stay in your jammies all day and just watch old Christmas movies together.  The point is that if you expect a quieter, lower-key Christmas, some of the pressure of those impossible expectations will give you the emotional room to deal with the affair. Plus, who ever said you couldn’t have pizza for Christmas dinner, right?

5) Make new traditions. You can see that this suggestion follows right after the previous one.  This year things just really are not “the same” and really it’s never going to be “the way it was.”  So rather than mourning the loss, why not choose to acknowledge it and celebrate it by doing some new traditions?  Some of the traditions you used to do before the affair will only serve as triggers and reminders of the painful things that occurred, but there is no law anywhere that you HAVE TO continue those triggery traditions.  So make new ones.  Do you love music and one of the things that is helping you and your Disloyal rebuild is “love of music”?  Well go to a new symphony performance or go caroling together!  There are tons of new things you can do as new traditions, and one of them might be as funny as “wait to decorate the tree until Christmas eve, and do it together as a family” or as silly as “Eat spaghetti with our fingers for Christmas dinner” or as thoughtful as “Everyone in the family donate to XYZ charity”.  Just do some new things and make one of the new traditions a way to celebrate “our first Christmas together again.”

6) Volunteer. Right now you are hyper-focused on yourself, your pain, your marriage and your family…and probably thinking about how Christmas is ruined.  But you’ve forgotten to focus on your blessings and yes, believe it or not, you have some.  So to be reminded of all that you have, go to the nearest nursing home or homeless shelter and actually spend some time there getting to know the people.  TALK to them.  Show them you care by your actions.  And when you volunteer, you’ll forget your issues as you help others.  You’ll realize you don’t have it so bad.  You’ll connect with another person who is deeply lonely and needs a friend for the holidays.  You’ll actually be acting in the spirit of the holiday!  After all, it’s not about decorating, and traveling, and dinners, and cookies and presents is it?  It’s about remembering that God was made flesh and came to this earth as a baby so that we might be reconciled to Him.  That is a MIRACLE and we celebrate THAT!!

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