Tag Archives: Gift

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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Ten things you DON’T have to do during “The Holidays”

Here it is–“The Holidays”–and as if the stress of all those parties, decorating, presents, relatives, and the expectation to make the Holidays “perfect” were not enough, your spouse is having an affair and everything has turned upside down!  When your spouse has turned into their Evil Twin, and they are trying to say the kids are okay sharing the holidays with the Other Person, and you feel everything you believed in has been shaken and crumbled…HOW are you supposed to get through The Holidays?  I’ve noticed lately that when I write an article, I tend to write almost a whole book, so in an effort to make it easier and a little shorter, here are ten things you just DO NOT have to do this year during The Holidays, while your spouse is having an affair:

1.  Pretend like “everything is okay.”  It is okay to tell some people–like a supportive sister, a pro-marriage friend, or someone you trust–that things just are NOT okay.  It’s also okay to let your kids know that this Christmas you feel sad and so it may not quite be exactly like some of the other years.

2.  Compete with your spouse (or soon-to-be-ex) over the kids.  They are just as much a parent in your kids’ lives as you are, and yet it’s not a competition to see who can spend more to buy their love.  The kids know which parent puts them to bed at night, helps them with homework, makes dinner, and takes time to actually be with them…and no amount of presents can buy that.  So if your unfaithful spouse buys your kids a bunch of stuff…let your kids enjoy the stuff they’ve been blessed with.  It’s not a competition and their love can’t be bought.

3.  Buy a gift for every branch of your family tree, all your co-workers, and everyone you’ve ever known.  Some gifts can be hand made.  Some gifts can be baked.  And the financial fact is that this year you may just have to trim that list back with a hedge-clipper. Well, so be it!  Christmas is about helping folks less fortune and celebrating the birth of the Savior–not “bigger, better, more expensive” presents.

4.  Put on the “perfect Christmas feast for 20″ all by yourself.  This year let someone else host the feast…or if it has to be at your house, ask for some help or hold it pot luck!  One year I told all my friends they could come and share food and caroling but in order to come in the door they had to bring something to share for six others.  Use paper plates….no one will care!

5.  Go into debt to buy presents.  So your spouse and the other woman are buying your kids a trip to Disneyland, huh?  Or a new touchscreen cellphone with unlimited minutes?  Don’t try to outdo them or go into debt to keep pace.  Give what YOU can afford to give and give it with love.  Take them ice skating and to hot chocolate afterward…for free!  Go tobogganing and let them laugh over mom/dad going over a bump!

6.  Go to every single holiday event to which you are invited.  Just learn to say no.  There is only so much that you can do, and it’s hard enough to sleep anyway!  Pick certain events that have a deep meaning to you (like your kids’ performances and that one church service) and to all the rest say “Thanks for thinking of me, but this year I’m afraid I need to say no.”  It’s okay.

7.  Make 12 dozen cookies for “Bobby’s class” when 3 dozen will do.  Actually I don’t need to explain this one, do I?  We all do this and demand so much more of ourselves than necessary.  Just look at the things you DO choose to do, and ask, “Am I going overboard here?  Am I holding myself to unrealistic expectations?”  If so, then get back to reality!

8.  Keep up with the Jones’ and light up your house like the Griswold’s.  Okay the lights on the house, and the perfect tree, and the garland, and the cards, and the candles, and the pine cones…OY!  It can be exhausting.  Pick the top three that are “must do” for you,  and do those three.  Then one by one add the next decorations if you have the energy–and if not, then don’t stress.  Maybe this year rather than sleighing to the forest to hand chop the perfect tree, allow yourself to go to the little tree place in town and pick a pre-cut one for $20.  Hey why not?

9.  Be perfect, look perfect, or “be happy all the time.”  Here’s the truth: your spouse is having an affair and is with another person and no part of you feels “perfect.”  So don’t try to make yourself be or look “happy”!  If you feel sad, on the occasion feel sad.  If you don’t feel like wearing red and green and being jolly, then be who you are and feel how you feel and let some people know.  Okay comb your hair and brush your teeth, yes.  Put on new, clean clothes every day, yes.  Be happy because it’s “The Holiday“?  NO!  Do the best you can, and maybe this is the perfect year to start a new tradition of NOT doing something just because you don’t feel like it this year.

10.   Eat only cookies, chocolate, and eggnog while staying up all night trying to get everything done.  This time of year is notorious for bad eating and sleeping habits.  Yes it’s easy to grab, but don’t grab just those two cookies for breakfast…or only coffee with eggnog creamer either!  If you want to have any energy at all it is important to remember that you need to eat nutritiously and get rest.  So, eat your fruits and vegetables and go to bed at 9pm if you feel tired.  It’s okay.