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Betrayed Spouse 101

Coping with Obsession

STOP Y ou see the images again and again in your mind. The two of them together. Laughing, Smiling, Making Love. You remember vividly all the times you were made a fool of as they lived their secret lives. Maybe you'd better check up on them, just one more time. It's been almost half an hour since you checked the computer or called the voicemail. Maybe it would be better if you just went over to where your spouse works and sat in the parking lot. And while you're there, you can relive it all in your mind again and again and again...

Not much of a life, is it? But you feel helpless to stop it. The thoughts are there, and you can't get them out. You truly feel as if you're going crazy. You see the future stretching out before you and you don't want to feel this way forever but you can't possibly see how you WON'T. Here are some strategies that have worked for others in this situation:

Picture a stop sign, or say the word "stop" out loud.
It sounds goofy, but it works. It forces you to interrupt that escalating chain of thoughts, even if its only for a moment.

Exercise or take part in some physical activity.
This has the added benefit of helping you burn some stress off and might even help you sleep better when you're done.

Keep a Journal.
Write it all out, all those nutso, obsessive thoughts and put them on paper. The nice thing about a journal is you don't have to censor yourself. You don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings or saying the wrong thing or saying it the wrong way. Just get it out. I vividly remembering one night at about 2am, getting up and writing in my journal "Why why why why why why why..." ad nauseam. It went on for about 3 pages. Stupid. Ridiculous. But I sure felt better for writing it down.

Do something creative.
Paint a picture. Plant flowers. Go to the nearest card store and pick out birthday cards for the entire year for people you know. Rearrange furniture. If you're at work, clean your desk, rearrange your pictures, etc. Its amazing sometimes, that once you get your creative juices flowing, it can take over and start a project you'll feel great about completing.

Visualize a comforting image.
Picture the smiling face of your child. A pet. A pretty spot in your garden. A stream you saw once. Hell, picture your favorite store at the mall if that's what brings you comfort. Meditate on it, and breathe deeply while you do.

Set goals and stick to them.
If you're obsessively checking your spouse's email/voicemail/wherabouts many, many times a day (and it's quite understandable if you are, I assure you) you need to get it under control. I started 'weaning' myself down. I decided (for instance) that today I will check his voicemail at 9am and again at 3pm. Next week I'll check once a day. Then every other day. Then once a week. Get the picture? I do believe in the early days after D-Day, it's essential (for rebuilders, particularly) to 'Trust but Verify' your spouse's activity. Its not just to 'catch' them doing wrong, but also to reinforce when they're really trying to rebuild. It can be enormously comforting to 'check up' during this time and find that they're behaving. And for the cheater, the more the betrayed spouse witnesses these positive reinforcements, the sooner you begin rebuilding the trust and the obsessiveness tapers off and goes away.

Remember the old adage and repeat as necessary: "This Too Shall Pass".
And it will. Keep in mind that you may feel out of control, crazy, nutso, whatever - right now, but it WON'T BE FOREVER. You WILL settle down. You WILL NOT always feel this way. With time, and a clear understanding of the issues, you will find your way, and the madness will CEASE.


The key here is to interrupt that thought process and limit the time and energy you spend on this behavior. Its not realistic to think you can just put this out of your mind - not worry about it and let it take care of itself. The bottom line is, it doesn't 'take care of itself', and all this pain and angst is part of the process. But it doesn't have to control you.

Some Thoughts On Obsession and The Payoff We Get, Or Not by Suzanne Finnamore