Once upon a time, you were living in the quiet of your own world and in the safety of your daily rhythm. Life was pretty normal, you’re normal, everything is normal. Things were in their proper places as you know it. Life for you isn’t perfect, but you’re coping well and you’re getting by.
Until one day, with a piece of a shocking revelation, everything changed in a blink of an eye. It’s as if the glass that has been encapsulating you and keeping you safe has shattered into pieces. WHY did the person whom you love the most betray you? Even if you’ve been suspecting that your husband might be having an affair, nothing could have prepared you for confirming your suspicions.
As a result of this life-changing event — of discovering your partner’s unfaithfulness — you began experiencing intense emotions and erratic behaviors. You morphed into an angry and hateful person. You feel like you’re losing the old you.
Suddenly your beliefs about love, about your spouse, about your marriage, all became lies. Your husband, who you know very well, has suddenly became a stranger in your eyes.The world, which was once normal, has now become abnormal. You couldn’t get a grip on yourself. You begin questioning yourself if you’re still normal or you’ve gone crazy.
Dear wife, hold on. You’re not getting crazy, the truth is, you might be experiencing symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD happens from an exposure to an overwhelming stressful and severe event or series of events. It is a normal response by normal people to an abnormal situation. And yes, infidelity is a traumatic event to any spouse who have experienced it.
Some of the common experiences of some wives, which you might be experiencing, are the following:
You become hypervigilant.
Whenever your husband goes out, you start to think he might be meeting with the other woman or might be doing some monkey business. Therese, shared that when his husband goes out with friends, she would get paranoid all over again. Though her paranoia may not be true, it seems her fear is real to her.
You experience flashbacks and trigger of painful memories.
Ana, married for ten years, related that while she was folding her husband’s underwear, the image of her husband having sex with the mistress flashed in her mind which caused her mood to spiral down all over again. In another experience, Gina, who was married for 3 years, shared dates and places could trigger the anger and the pain she used to feel.
With PTSD, anything could trigger the memory of infidelity which could cause another whirlwind of emotions. Here are some ways to help you deal with flashbacks.
You struggle with obsessive thoughts
In your attempt to make sense of the infidelity of your husband, you keep on turning the past events in your head. You think of the dates when he told you that he would be out. You try to ask yourself what is wrong with you or what is lacking with you that made your husband look for another woman. You want to know how their relationship developed from start to finish. You want to know everything because you want to understand why it happened, thinking that if you do understand, it might lessen the hurt.
You couldn’t concentrate on your tasks at hand.
Because of your obsessive thinking, you couldn’t focus anymore on what you need to do. Lisa, while driving to her office, which she has been doing for so many years, has suddenly find herself lost en route. Concentrating on something is difficult for grieving wives.
To complete the picture of PTSD, according to Mayo Clinic, PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions. See if you are also experiencing some of the signs below.
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Inability to experience positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
By now you might have realized that your erratic behaviors has a name, and it’s not because you’re going crazy. All the behaviors you’re experiencing are normal responses given your abnormal situation.
Experiencing the aftermath of your husband’s infidelity is an emotional roller coaster ride. One minute, you think you’re fine, only to be attacked by some PTSD symptoms again.
Although learning about PTSD won’t lessen the magnitude of your pain and agony, I hope that this piece of information will help you understand yourself better and to be more patient with yourself. In God’s time and grace, with the help of your husband — and with a professional marriage counselor — I pray that this difficult stage in your marriage will soon pass.
Schiraldi, G. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999. Electronic book.
Glass, S. and Staehelli, J.C. Not Just Friends. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2003. Electronic book.