For the betrayed partner, infidelity is a potentially traumatic experience. As is the case with any such situation, there will be triggers. These are intrusive thoughts and emotions that remind you of the nightmarish event. An affair can turn your life upside down. The last thing you need is to be reminded of the pain and/or prompted toward new rumination. A strong trigger can leave you feeling as if it’s all happening again.
Conversely, the spouse who engaged in infidelity can also be triggered. If they are remorseful, they may feel the last thing they need is to be triggered into more guilt and shame.
The short answer is yes. But this will require hard work and commitment. A lot of this will depend on the state of your relationship when the betrayal happens. But studies show that many couples recover and grow stronger. With all the strong feelings involved, both partners must practice emotional regulation. A good place to start is learning how to manage infidelity triggers.
Flashbacks can be triggered by virtually anything. It could be a song or a romantic movie. You might meet someone with the same first name as the person your partner cheated with. Milestones like birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries can bring back unwanted memories. Navigating this minefield is a giant step toward healing.
5 Ways to Navigate Infidelity Triggers
1. Recognize That Triggers are Normal and Inevitable
Infidelity is an intense betrayal of trust, and triggers can be overwhelming. Infidelity triggers are so common that the term “post-infidelity stress disorder” has been coined. Let go of the guilt and potential self-blame by accepting this temporary result of the affair. Never let anyone—especially your partner—convince you that you’re “over-reacting” or being “dramatic.”
2. Identify Your Triggers Together
Being aware of each other’s triggers increases your ability to avoid them. At the very least, you can see them coming. Either way, this reduces the severity of your response and, thus, how emotionally extreme it feels. Also, this is an excellent opportunity to begin working on your reconnection.
3. Make Certain That You Practice Full Transparency
One of the most critical steps is transparency. This goes not just for navigating triggers but also for any kind of reconciliation. It starts with the cheating partner being fully honest about what happened and why. This can start a new method of interacting for both of you.
In addition, transparency must be practiced when it comes to discussing emotions. Do not keep your feelings a secret, because that will increase the possibility of flare-ups and more triggers.
4. Practice Self-Care
Infidelity causes extreme distress. When in this state—for any reason—self-care can become your biggest ally. You will need resilience to stand up to the stress. A daily self-care regimen is a proven path for this need. Elements should include:
- Healthy eating choices
- Regular sleep patterns
- Exercise and physical activity
- Relaxation techniques
- Ask your support system for help
5. Support Each Other
Yes, this can be tricky. But it offers you two things you may both want. Firstly, you may miss having each other lean on during such a rough time. Also, it’s a powerful way to bring healing. A terrible wrong has been committed. You’ll need time and space. Yet, showing support now of all times is a sign of hope.
Couples Therapy is Essential
The raw emotions at play can make it feel impossible that you can ever be a happy couple again. This process can be made smoother with the help of an unbiased professional guide. Let’s talk and get you past the triggers so you can focus on healing