What Infidelity Does To A Marriage May Not Be What You Think

Woman contemplating what infidelity does to a marriage.

It isn’t quite as cut and dried as you might think.

If you’re like most people, you got married with a certainty of two things:

1. You will be one of the lucky ones who made it to “happily ever after

2. If your new spouse ever cheats on you, your marriage will be O.V.E.R.

Being certain of two ideas that seem completely opposed to each other seems a bit strange. But that’s the truth of how most of us enter marriage – idealistic and protective.

These ideas reflect the society we live in. We’re taught from an early age to believe in fairy tales filled with Princes and Princesses that fall in love and live “happily ever after.” Yet we’re also taught that not everyone is to be trusted. So if someone betrays you in any way, the relationship with must end immediately.

Now that you’ve discovered your spouse has cheated, these two certainties aren’t quite as clear cut as you thought they were when you married. That’s at least in part because the idea of something is WAY different from the reality of it.

Maybe divorce isn’t the only answer after all. But that doesn’t mean your marriage can simply be repaired.

What infidelity does to a marriage is destroy it – at least the way it was. But that doesn’t mean infidelity destroys your relationship with your spouse.

It’s from the foundation of your relationship that you can create a new marriage.

It’s important to recognize that you will have to forge a new marriage because the old one simply didn’t work. (If it had worked for both of you, your spouse wouldn’t have cheated.)

It’s also important for you to know you’re not alone. According to conservative estimates, 25% of all marriages deal with infidelity. Not all of these couples divorce. They find a way to create new marriages that work better for both of them.

But what makes a wronged spouse willing to put in the enormous effort required to make things work?

The motivation for putting in the work to create a new marriage varies greatly. Some choose to stick it out for social and/or financial reasons. Others out of a fear of being alone or of raising the children on their own. And still others choose to work through the betrayal because they deeply love their wayward spouse.

If you choose to work things out, the success of your decision will depend in large part on your wayward spouse’s willingness to work things out too.

Luckily, many couples do find a way to salvage their marriages, but it’s not an easy decision to make or follow through on.

Creating a strong marriage after an affair is really a matter of both spouses becoming transparent emotionally and being willing to support and nurture a new marriage.

What infidelity does to a marriage for the long-term isn’t the same for every marriage because every marriage is as unique as each spouse is.

If you make the decision to work things out after you discover your spouse has had (or is having) an affair is just the beginning of the transformation that must take place if you’re to have a meaningful marriage. But by understanding there’s lots of hard work ahead for you and your wayward spouse, you’ll have a much better chance of creating a new marriage.

If you make the decision to follow the path you set for yourself on your wedding day and divorce, you’ll find that this is just the beginning of the transformation that must take place so you can be successfully single.

Either way, the work you do will help you find your way to your revised version of “happily ever after.”

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in figuring out if their marriage can or should be saved. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more ideas about how to deal with your spouse’s (or your) affair? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.

How To Overcome Your Post-Divorce Financial Fears

Your financial fears are a warning that you need to start thinking and doing things differently.

One of the biggest fears people facing divorce have is not having enough money after their divorce is finished. This fear strikes people of all income levels.

Now, the fact is that at first you won’t have enough money to continue living the lifestyle you had when you were married. That’s just what happens when you get divorced and you divvy up the assets and debts.

And being fearful of that change is natural because money represents important things power, security and freedom.

But your fear of not having enough money is about more than just not wanting your financial status to change. It’s also a call to start doing things differently.

And that’s because in general, fears are warnings. They alert us to the fact that there’s a risk or threat we’re facing and that we have an opportunity to do something about it.

No doubt you’ve heard that the fear response is fight, flee or freeze.

If you choose to flee or ignore your changing financial situation, chances are your financial situation will be much worse than necessary because you’ll attempt to continue to live as you did before your divorce.

If you choose to freeze and just keep saying things like “I don’t know what to do” and “this is so horrible” you’ll remain a victim of circumstances. You’ll find yourself trapped in feelings of scarcity.

However, if you choose to fight or get into action, you’ll make it through your financial fears feeling capable because you’ve changed your life for the better.

Hopefully, you recognize that the best response to your financial fears is to get into action to change your situation and mitigate the risk you’re facing.

So how do you do this? By following these 3 steps.

  1. Change the story you’re telling yourself.
    Fears become scary when you focus on the negative what-if’s: What if I wind up living on the streets? What if I don’t have enough money to feed my kids?You don’t have to continue dwelling on the negativity and the easiest way to change the story you’re telling yourself is to come up with 5 positive what-if’s for every negative one. What if I find a reasonably priced place to live that I love? What if I find a great job? What if I win the lottery? What if I start a side business that’s amazingly successful? What if I discover that living within my budget is super easy?
  2. Act to start making one of your positive what-if’s a reality.
    Your action could be creating a plan to achieve what you want, asking for help, or getting back to doing what you already decided to do. It’s amazing how quickly working to make what you do want to happen a reality will decrease your fears.
  3. Be thankful for what you do have.
    You might think this sounds cheesy, but by choosing gratitude for what you do have instead of living in fear of what you don’t you’ll completely change your mindset. You’ll realize that you have more than a lot of other people do and know that if they can make it on less you can certainly make it on what you’ve got now as you continue to work to make your situation different.

Now these three steps might sound like mind games. And in some ways, you’re absolutely correct – they are mind games.

The thing is that continuing to live in fear of your financial situation post-divorce is a mind game too. A BIG FAT HORRIBLE mind game that will make you positively miserable.

So, what can it hurt to challenge yourself to take your fear and use it for good by changing the way you think about it so you can get busy creating the post-divorce financial situation you want?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are looking for advice and support in healing after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more divorce advice? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Healing After Divorce.

This article was originally published at DivorceForce.

What Life After Divorce For Men Over 40 Is Really Like

Frustrated man in suit figuring out what life after divorce for men over forty is really like.

These 4 steps will help you get over your divorce and on with your life.

Life after divorce for men over 40 is very different from what their married friends think it is. Their friends think that a divorced guy should immediately get out there and sample as many different women as possible and that will automatically help them get over their divorce.

In my more than 10 years’ work with men over 40, I’ve yet to meet one who can immediately jump from being what he thought was happily married into the fabled life of a playboy. (No, not even the men who cheated on their wives can easily do this.)

Men over 40 need time to shift from being a family man to being a single dad because you can’t just erase the lifestyle you’ve had for years as easily as flipping a switch. It’s more of a four-step process.

The 4 steps for embracing life after divorce for men over 40:

Step 1: Figuring things out

This is the time when you make all the big adjustments and learn to live on your own again. You’ll rediscover how to do the things that your wife used to do – like laundry, paying the bills, making doctor appointments and cooking.

The other big adjustment you make during this period is figuring out how to be a single dad and coparent. For most men, they miss their kids terribly. It isn’t easy to live without the sounds of your children at home every day or to be the only parent when they’re with you.

But you will figure out a way to make the basics of your new life work for you.

Step 2: Trying out preliminary dating

At some point, you’ll try dating. I call this first round of dating preliminary dating because you’re not really sure what type of woman you want – maybe you want someone to listen to you and provide emotional support, maybe you want someone to make your ex jealous, or maybe you just want someone you can have sex with – and because you’re still hurting from your divorce you’re not ready to enter into a relationship.

Most men use this period of preliminary dating to get in shape and update their wardrobe a bit as the remember how to put their best foot forward in the dating world.

Step 3: Getting over your divorce

Divorce is one of the most hellish experiences anyone can have. It takes time and effort to heal from the end of your marriage.

Most men don’t complete putting their grief and the emotional turmoil of divorce behind them until after they’ve started dating. There’s something to say for knowing you’re still desirable that goes a long way toward rebuilding your confidence.

Step 4: Moving on with your life

Once you’ve put away all (or at least most) of the baggage from your marriage, you’ll be able to start really living your life. You’ll have figured out how to take care of you and your kids, you’ve already experimented with dating, and you’re ready to start experimenting with relationships or become that fabled playboy.

Whatever you choose to do with your life now you’re choosing because you’re ready for it and not because it’s someone else’s idea of what you should be doing.

Putting your former life behind you takes work, but it’s effort well invested. Everyone will see you as one of those guys who knows how to make life after divorce for men over 40 really work. And you know what? You’ll see yourself that way too.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping men just like you who want support in figuring out what life after divorce for men over 40 will be like for them. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session. 

Looking for more ideas about having a great life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.

How Long Will It Take To Get Over Your Divorce?

Knowing these 3 phases of divorce recovery will help you understand exactly how long it will take.

The pain and confusion of divorce is so intense that at times you wonder if you’ve lost your mind. At other times, you worry that this agony is just how life will be from now on.

In less tortured moments, you know you’re still sane and that life will get better. But then you wonder when because you aren’t sure how much more of the misery you can take.

A quick Google will show you there are plenty of people who will willingly tell you exactly how long it will take you to get over your divorce. What you need to know is that they’re ALL WRONG.

These authorities are all wrong because they base their guidance on averages, observation, personal experience and personal bias. There’s no way any of that will be able to predict exactly how long it will take YOU to get over your divorce.

Divorce recovery is a process. You’ll get through it on a timeline that’s unique to you – not according to someone else’s.

So instead of looking for an exact time when you’ll be over your divorce, it makes more sense to look at other indications that you’re over your divorce.

One of the best ways to gauge how far you’ve come and how much more you have to do is to look at your primary motivation for how you’re living your life.

There are three different phases of motivation that people go through as they heal from their divorce.

1.Make the pain stop.

This the is the most difficult part of divorce recovery. Living in pain and confusion is the only constant amidst the chaos of your divorce.

You struggle to figure out a way to stop hurting so much as you go through all the phases of grief. You are greatly tempted to medicate the pain away in this phase. You might ask your doctor for a prescription or you might self-medicate with food, alcohol, other mood-altering substances, and/or sex.

The biggest challenge here is to not over medicate yourself so you avoid feeling what you need to experience to actually heal so you can move on to the next phase as you fight to move on with your life after divorce.

You’ll also look for guidance form just about anyone for ideas to make the pain stop. The challenge is that not everyone you’ll be tempted to ask for help will be able to really help you. They’ll each have their own reasons for offering help which may or may not have your best interests as reason #1.

2.Focus on others.

As the pain starts to subside, you’ll feel numb compared to the tumultuous emotions that were besieging you in the previous phase. You’ll look outside of yourself to keep moving on.

You might start to real focus on your kids or work or your pets or even your friends. This external focus allows you to re-establish and redefine the relationships and your responsibilities that suffered the most as you were dealing with your pain.

Looking at life through this lens of connection and contribution can be extremely motivating. The challenge is that it can also lead to burnout because you’re not necessarily taking care of yourself.

3.Creating the life you want.

Eventually, you’ll get your relationships and responsibilities stabilized. You may not have everything exactly the way want it, but you’ll accept the way things are with the important people and activities in your life.

This is when you start becoming motivated by what you want in your life. You’ll find it easy to take the steps necessary to make your life great.

This shift in focus doesn’t mean that you start ignoring what you’ve built up in the last phase, but that now you are motivated on making your life really work for you. The goal now is to feel fulfilled and happy.

And when you reach this phase you’re over the bulk of your divorce recovery work. You may still have a few triggers that hurl you back to the first phase of pain and confusion (like when you find out your ex is in a serious relationship, or when your anniversary rolls around), but you won’t stay there for long.

You know that what lies ahead of you is so much more motivating and appealing than what happened in the past.

As much as knowing these phases will help you get a feel for how much longer you’ll be dealing with getting over your divorce, they can also make it more challenging if you’re one of those people who like to push to accomplish things.

Super-achievers will be tempted to start focusing on what they want to create in their life NOW instead of allowing themselves to thoroughly work through each of the phases.

If this is you, remember that completely recovering from divorce is a process. You can certainly accelerate the process by focusing on the best ways to get through each phase, but not by short-circuiting or skipping any portion of one.

So allow yourself to progress through each of them with intention. As you do, you’ll find that you’ll have dealt with the pain, confusion and outward focus to the point that you’re able to truly create an amazing life for yourself post-divorce.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are struggling with divorce and don’t know how to stop the pain so they can move forward with their lives. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more support and ideas for feeling better after your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Healing After Divorce.

This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

The 5 Things You HAVE To Do To FINALLY Get Over Your Break Up

Silhouette of 3 friends, hiking up a rise toward a sunset/rise. 5 Things you HAVE to do to FINALLY get over your breakup.

Because it takes more than booze and ice cream to truly heal.

It doesn’t matter if this is the first time or the hundredth time – break ups suck.

Logically, you know you’d never want a relationship with someone who doesn’t want you.

But logic isn’t where you go when you get the news that it’s over.

It’s just too shocking! Unbelievable!

How could they dump you after all you’ve done for them? Don’t they realize how much you love them?

You’re indignant.

In a short span of time you’ve already experienced the first two steps of dealing with grief after a break up – shock and anger.

But then something happens – you want to understand why it ended.

You quickly jump to the conclusion it ended because of you. You start thinking that maybe you aren’t good enough, or that you’re unlovable, or that there’s something else fundamentally WRONG with you. It’s the only thing that makes sense – somehow YOU must have screwed up for this amazing person to call it quits.

You start obsessing and over-analyzing your potential faults.

Maybe you ask your ex to tell you what you did to make them dump you so you can change and get the relationship back. Maybe you just start beating yourself up as you try to figure out exactly what you did to make them stop loving you and leave.

This is the real pain of a break up – dealing with feelings of inadequacy and sadness.

Dealing with grief after a breakup is a process and isn’t immediately solved with a pint of ice cream (or several shots of tequila).

You have to go through all of the pain before you’re ready for your next relationship.

But that doesn’t mean you have to wander in a sugar- or alcohol-laden wilderness of depression. There is a definite path you can follow to make your recovery process a whole lot easier.

Here are five steps on that path, to help you move past the grief and finally move on after your breakup.

Step 1: Know that it’s OK to feel sad.

It’s normal to grieve the loss of love. So let yourself experience the sadness.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to allow yourself to drown in it. It just means that you’ll allow yourself to experience the emotion instead of trying to lock it away and ignore it.

Step 2: Comfort yourself.

Yeah, this is when Ben & Jerry and Patrón enter the picture, but so do your favorite songs, pillow and anything else that helps you to feel better.

Do things that comfort you so that you know you’re OK despite the sadness you’re feeling after your breakup.

But comforting yourself doesn’t mean that you do it until you forget about your grief, just that you take the edge off it in the beginning.

Step 3: Shift your perspective.

After you’re feeling safer and calmer, it’s time to start bringing a bit of logic back to the situation and remember that you really don’t want a relationship with someone who doesn’t love you to the same extent that you love them.

You deserve a whole lot more than that.

And you know, the reason your ex broke up with you really is all about them. They made the decision to end things. You can let them own that decision as you own your decision to get over them.

Step 4: Spend time with your friends.

Reach out to your friends. These are the people who know how great you really are. They’ll know how to keep you from feeling too lonely and how to help you feel happy again.

Step 5: Build your self-confidence back up.

As you’ve worked your way through the previous 4 steps, you’ve been flirting with the idea that you’re pretty great despite getting dumped by your ex.

Now is when you begin accepting that despite what’s happened, you really are a fabulous and lovable person.

You might start by doing some Stuart Smalley stuff – corny, but it works at shutting down those negative comments that have been running through your head since the break up.

You might get back out there and start casually dating again. Or you might choose to do something between these two extremes as you finish getting your mojo back.

Getting over your grief after a break up doesn’t usually happen overnight, because getting dumped is horrible and heartbreaking.

But by going through these five steps, you’ll be on the quickest path to feeling better again.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are struggling with divorce and don’t know how to stop the pain so they can move forward with their lives. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice.  And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more support and ideas for feeling better after your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.

This article originally appeared at YourTango.

5 Tips For Dealing With Anger Due To Grief About Divorce

Finally learning how to deal with your anger in a healthy way is an unexpected benefit of divorce.

Almost everyone who goes through divorce gets angry about it.

Your anger may only register as a sense of frustration, or it may be as overwhelming as rage, or something in between these two extremes. But that doesn’t mean that’s how it will feel tomorrow or even in the next moment.

That’s just how healing from divorce is – one unpredictable emotion after another.

Anger is a normal part of any grieving process and needs constructive expression if you’re going to avoid becoming bitter or enraged because of your divorce.

So, dealing with anger due to grief is definitely a skill you need to learn to get over your divorce.

However, before you can really deal with your anger you need to jettison the baggage about it that you’re carrying around. (Yes, you, like everyone else learned stuff that’s not all that helpful about anger.)

Maybe you believe that anger is bad and shouldn’t be expressed. So anytime you feel the slightest twinge of anger you suppress it. The problem with doing this is that the anger will fester and cause you both physical and psychological problems.

Or maybe you believe that it’s better to be angry instead of feeling vulnerable or hurt. Yet, when your marriage ends (especially when you don’t want it to), it’s a very painful experience. You have a right to feel hurt, vulnerable and out of control of the situation.

The truth is that anger is an entirely normal emotion in response to feeling wronged or having your plans thwarted. And if your soon-to-be-ex has decided they want a divorce, you absolutely feel wronged and that they have ruined all your plans for the future.

However, you don’t want to get stuck feeling angry. So you need a game plan for what to do when your anger emerges.

Game plan for dealing with anger due to grief about your divorce:

1. Acknowledge that you’re feeling angry.

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people who have developed the skill of ignoring their anger because of a belief that anger is bad.

It’s also important to recognize that you feel angry because it interrupts the emotion’s control over you which will give you a moment to choose how you will express it constructively.

2. Express your anger constructively.

After you’re aware of your anger, you need to let it out in a meaningful way. Some of the ways you might get your anger out include:

Calmly, directly, and respectfully say what you need to say to whomever you need to say it

Walk away

Scream into a pillow

Play music very loudly

Go for a run

Punch your pillows


Talk with a friend or helping professional about your anger

Take several deep breaths

Use humor

Go into problem-solving mode

But be careful to notice how you’re feeling when you use any of these methods because sometimes your anger will increase. If you get angrier, stop what you’re doing and choose another way to let your anger go.

3. Find your own meaning for what’s going on.

When you’re grieving the loss of your marriage, you’ll ask questions like “Why is this happening?” and “Whose fault is this – theirs or mine?” Wondering about these types of questions create frustration and anger because you feel helpless, powerless and abandoned.

It’s time to begin answering these questions for yourself from as kind and compassionate a place as you can. The intent behind the answers isn’t so that you can let anyone off the hook, it’s so that you can let go of some of the hurt and start to heal instead of being stuck in your anger.

4. Identity your triggers.

It might be that each and every single time you see your soon-to-be ex you become enraged. You might be facing what would have been your anniversary and feel really pissed. Or you might look at all the bills that have piled up because of your divorce and feel fury at having to deal with all of them on your own.

If you know what sets you off, you’ll find it easier to acknowledge, express, and change your story about it. And if you can do that you’ll move through the anger phase of your divorce grief more completely and quickly than if you’re unaware of your triggers.

5. Plan ahead for potentially triggering situations.

Whatever it is that triggers you, plan ahead for how you’ll deal with it. The more prepared you are for diffusing your triggers, the less anger you’ll feel when you do face them.

This 5-step plan for dealing with anger due to your grief about your divorce is a great place to start, but it won’t magically prevent you from ever feeling angry about your divorce again. Divorce recovery is a process and cyclical which means that chances are you’ll go through more than one anger phase.

But each phase should be less intense than the previous one because of all the work you’re doing to become aware of your emotions, identify why you’re feeling that way and then take positive action to address your triggers.

It’s by putting in this work that you’ll move through your divorce anger and grief and finally put the pain behind you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain and frustration of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more ideas about dealing with anger and grief? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.

How Does An Unhappy Marriage Affect You?

How does an unhappy marriage affect you? It’s not pretty.

It’s pretty scary what the stress of a bad marriage can do to you.

You got married because you fell in love and had dreams of living happily ever after. But somewhere along the way marital bliss turned to marital blah or worse.

You might even occasionally toy with the idea of calling it quits or half-heartedly attempt to work on your marriage. Instead of making any significant changes, what you end up doing is staying. You stick it out because the thought of doing anything different is just too big to deal with.

It might seem like this is the path of least resistance, but did you know the impact of your unhappy marriage is greater – a lot greater – than just feeling meh about your spouse? The stress of a bad marriage affects you physically, mentally and emotionally.

How does an unhappy marriage affect you physically?

  • Weakens your immune system (source)
  • Wounds are slower to heal (source)
  • Increases you blood pressure (source)
  • Increases your cholesterol (source)
  • Makes you gain weight (source)
  • Puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and arterial calcification (source)
  • Causes digestive disorders (source)
  • Causes hormone imbalance (source)
  • Causes poor sleep (source)
  • Shrinks your brain (source)
  • Kills brain cells and halts new brain cell growth (source)

Although these risks apply to both men and women they don’t apply equally. Around the age of 40, the impact of marital stress on a woman’s body is much greater than on a man’s.

How does a miserable relationship influence you mentally?

  • Decreases your attention span (source)
  • Causes memory problems (source)
  • Puts you at greater risk for mental illnesses of all kinds (source)
  • Makes it hard for you to think and make decisions (source)
  • Increases your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s (source)

How does a bad marriage impact you emotionally?

  • Greater risk for depression (source)
  • More feelings of anger (source)
  • General feelings of anxiety (source)
  • Mood swings (source)
  • Impatience with yourself and others (source)

One of the biggest challenges everyone in an unhappy marriage faces is how to deal with it. Most people choose self-soothing activities like smoking, drinking alcohol, drug use, gambling, impulse buying and over (or under) eating to help them cope. The problem with this is that these behaviors exacerbate the risk factors that the stress of your unhappy marriage created in the first place.

The impact of an unhappy marriage on you is pretty scary. But your bad marriage impacts more than just you. It affects your spouse and your kids.

Hopefully, all this information is impactful enough for you to want to change things. But don’t jump to the conclusion that the only way to fix things is to divorce. Divorce is much more stressful than an unhappy marriage.

The place to start changing things is to get honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working in your marriage. Once you’re clear about this, you’ll also want to consider what you’re willing to do to change things.

After you know what you want (or at least have a better idea than you do now) and what you’re willing to do, it’s time to have an open, compassionate conversation with your spouse. The goal of the discussion is to develop a plan so your family can stop suffering from the mental, physical and emotional pain of an unhappy marriage.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are struggling with an unhappy marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more information about what to do if you have a miserable marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.

11 Reasons Why An Affair Is A Bad Idea

Woman reminding herself why an affair is a bad idea despite her temptation.

Having an affair is one of the worst decisions you can make for yourself – and your family.

You’ve been unhappy in your marriage for a while now. It seems that things will never change – that your spouse will continue ignoring your needs.

You’re tired of feeling stuck, ignored and unloved in your marriage. So when someone else shows you the attention you’ve been craving you’re naturally drawn to them.

But before you continue down the slippery slope you’re precariously perched upon, pause and examine why having an affair is a bad idea.

Affairs hurt everyone – not just your spouse. They hurt you, your lover, their spouse, your children, their children, your family, their family, your friends and their friends. That’s a lot of people.

And before you start wondering too much about what an affair is, know that anytime you feel the need to keep a relationship secret from your spouse – regardless of whether you’re having sex with this other person or not – you’re having an affair.

Just what makes infidelity so bad?

These are the biggest reasons why an affair is a bad idea:

  1. You’re choosing to live in fear of changing your marriage.
    If everything was great in your marriage, you wouldn’t be tempted to deepen your relationship with this other person. Don’t let your fears of what could happen if you talk to your spouse about what isn’t working for you cloud your judgment.

    Find out if your marriage can be improved enough to bring you the happiness it did when you first married. You owe it to yourself, your spouse and your children to put in the effort to either fix your marriage or respectfully decide to end it.

    (In case you’re worried about losing this new person, they’ll gladly allow you the time you need to deal with your marriage – that is if they truly love you. And if they aren’t willing to give you the time you need, you know that what they feel for you isn’t love.)

  2. An affair isn’t about love, it’s about betrayal.
    You decided to have a monogamous relationship with your spouse. Anything you do to undermine that relationship is a betrayal – no matter how much love you might feel for and from the other person.
  3. Lying doesn’t become you.
    Infidelity requires secrecy and covering your tracks by lying. Despite the thrill you might have at first, the guilt, shame and worry will consume more and more of your thoughts.

    As you slide deeper into these thoughts, you start to feel poorly about yourself because you’re living a double life. In one life you feel alive, valued and loved. In the other, you feel the weight of the deception, your self-esteem plummets, and you feel more and more miserable.

  4. You’re increasing you chances of getting an STD.
    The more sexual partners you have, the greater the chances are that you’re impacting your longevity – not just because of potentially contracting STD’s but because of other physical and emotional health issues.
  5. It could be illegal.
    Yes, there are some states and countries where cheating isn’t just a bad idea – it’s illegal. If you’re helping someone cheat, then you could be breaking the law and opening yourself up to a law suit if not something worse.
  6. You’ll regret it when/if your spouse finds out.

    Getting caught having an affair isn’t a pleasant experience. You will feel humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed when you’re exposed.If you’re lucky, you and your spouse will be able to work through things and come to a reasonable decision about how to move forward either by saving your marriage or by divorcing.

    If you’re not lucky, things will get ugly quickly and stay that way.

  7. Your spouse will have trust issues – maybe for the rest of their life.
    When your spouse discovers that you’ve been lying to them and that they’ve believed your lies. They start to question reality and wonder how they’ll ever know if someone is being truthful with them or not.

    Their confusion and fear of trusting someone in an intimate relationship will cause them all kinds of pain whether your marriage can be salvaged or not. If they don’t receive the help they need to work through their trust issues, they could struggle with them for the rest of their life.

  8. You’ll be at risk for the judgment of others when they find out.People aren’t always kind when they discover one of their friends or family members has cheated on their spouse. In the worst-case scenario, your friends and family will give you a bazillion reasons why you never should have cheated in the first place and then ostracize you. In the best case, they’ll just laugh at you behind your back.
  9. Your children will be hurt.No matter how you look at it, having an affair is setting a bad example for your children. When they find out they’ll feel humiliated, confused, insecure, sad and angry that you could ruin their family. As a result you’ll lose moral authority with your kids.
  10. Discovery of your affair could lead to divorce.
    Cheating doesn’t destroy all marriages. But for the ones it does, these divorces are generally more combative, bitter and drawn-out because of the emotions at play when the couple tries to negotiate a settlement.
  11. You’ll have to explain your affair to anyone you seriously date in the future.
    One of the most common questions people ask when they’re dating someone who’s been divorced is “Why did your marriage end?” You’ll have to come up with an answer if you care about the person asking the question.

    If your infidelity ended your marriage, you could choose to lie for the rest of your life. All this does is prolong the sense of guilt, humiliation and shame of your affair.

    On the other hand, you could choose to tell the truth. And this will naturally cause the person you’re dating to wonder if you’re worthy of their trust or not.

    Neither option is very appealing.

You might not agree with all 11 reasons why an affair is a bad idea, but you’ve probably found a few that make sense to you. Hopefully, the one that makes the most sense is the first one – your marriage isn’t fulfilling and you’re choosing to live in misery and fear of changing it.

The good thing about being tempted to cheat on your spouse is that it gives you the opportunity to address the elephant in the room – your marriage either needs to be fixed or dissolved. Instead of immediately succumbing to the attraction you feel for the other person, screw up your courage and address your marriage first.

It will work out better for everyone involved if you do – especially you because you’ll be able to move forward with your life and have your needs met without the regret of adultery.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of affairs and miserable marriages. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more information about infidelity? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.

How To Stay Sane When Your Spouse Has Filed For Divorce

Silhouette of women with clasped hands in front of a sunset/sunrise. How to stay sane when your spouse has filed for divorce.

Your old life is over. Here’s how to start your new one.

When you find out your spouse has filed for divorce, it’s pretty normal to feel disbelief – like there must be some mistake.

There’s no way they would just throw in the towel like that … would they?

Once they confirm that they do want out, you’re overcome with despair.

You wonder if you’ll survive this completely unwanted destruction of your life.

And as reality begins to sink in, your fears start to rise up. In the midst of your despair, you’re overcome with dread because you begin imagining what your life (and your kids’ lives) will become.

All you can see is misery, destruction, and legal bills.

Some of your fears are true.

Divorce will destroy your life, but only the life that was – not the life that’s ahead of you.

And believe it or not, despite how terrifying they are, your fears are actually trying to help you survive your divorce and create a new life for yourself that will really work for you.

Despite the terror they induce, your fears are warnings.

They are the absolute worst-case scenario and alert you to a risk or threat you’re facing that you need to do something about.

There are umpteen million years of evolution that also come into play when you’re afraid. So, you’re going to automatically react to each of your fears by freezing, fleeing or fighting because that’s the fear response taking control.

How to keep yourself sane, even when it feels like everything is falling apart:

The trick to maintaining your sanity through the overwhelming changes of divorce is to become aware of how you’re responding to each of your fears, and choose to respond in the most appropriate way to dispel the fear and protect yourself from the risk or threat.

Yes, that seems like a big task. But you can handle it.

For example, you might find yourself continuing to deny that your ex is really going to go through with the divorce despite their assurances that they are (and the letters you’ve received from their attorney).

You’re afraid to face the end of your marriage because the future is so uncertain and the divorce is so unwanted. And that is understandable.

But because you’re denying the situation, your automatic response to this fear is to freeze.

You’re hoping that by ignoring the threat that it won’t happen – that your ex will come to their senses.

Unfortunately, playing ostrich and sticking your head in the sand, isn’t the most appropriate response. And not the one that’s going to help you most in the end.

A more caring and supportive response would be to start getting into action.

But how?

Begin thinking about what you would like your post-divorce life to be like. These thoughts don’t need to be elaborate.

A great place to start is thinking about how you would like the pain of rejection to be less sharp in the future, and then go online to see what advice is out there.

Recognize that the most productive fear response isn’t a reflex, but a choice.

A choice to thoughtfully fight, to will take well thought-out action, in facing your divorce.

Unfortunately, recognizing that this is what you need to do doesn’t make it easy or natural to do.

So here are 3 tips to help you become more adept at changing your instinctual fear response:

1. Change the story you’re telling yourself.

Fears are scariest when you focus on the worst-case scenarios they conjure up – the negative “what-if’s”.

What if I wind up living on the streets?

What if I can’t find a job that pays a living wage?

What if the divorce destroys the kids?

What if I’m alone for the rest of my life?

What if I really am unlovable?

Dwelling on the negativity of all these fears isn’t going to help you beyond identifying what you need to reduce the threat of.

It’s just self-inflicted torture.

Instead, come up with 5 positive what-if’s for every negative one you’re struggling with.

For example:

What if I go to school to improve my skills? What if I work two jobs? What if I start my own business? What if I take out a loan to tide us over until I get back on my feet? What if I move in with my parents until I make enough?

These examples may not work for you and that’s OK.

Whatever fear you’re trying to disarm, just find some positive what-if’s that inspire you to act.

That way you can respond to your fears from a place of confidence, instead of victimhood.

2. Act to start making one of your positive what-if’s a reality.

There’s no one right answer here for what you need to do, in order to start making your positive what-if a reality.

You might choose to start creating a plan to achieve what you want, asking for help, or getting back to what you’ve already decided to do.

Once you get started, you’ll surprise yourself with how quickly you start to feel better.

Working to make what you want to happen a reality will decrease your fears more than you could ever guess.

3. Be thankful for what you do have.

You might think this sounds cheesy, but choosing gratitude for what you do have, instead of living in fear of what you don’t (or soon won’t) will completely change your mindset.

You’ll realize that you have a lot more than many other people do.

You’ll also realize that lots of other people have made it through divorce too. And with this knowledge it’s so much easier to be thankful instead of fearful.

You’re probably thinking that these tips sound like mind games.

And you’d be absolutely right.

The thing is that living in fear of what might happen because your spouse has filed for divorce is a mind game too.

A horrible mind game that will have you wondering if you’ll survive or lose your mind trying.

So, which mind game would you prefer – one that gives you hope and sparks the determination you need to make the rest of your life even more wonderful than the past or one that leaves you whimpering in fear and pain?

The decision to divorce may not be yours, but how you’ll let the divorce shape the rest of your life is 100% yours.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more tips to make the pain of divorce stop? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

How To Boost Your Self-Confidence (And Get Over Your Divorce Faster)

Older woman in golden sweater smiling confidently while window shopping on busy sidewalk

Use these 3 tips for building your self-confidence and get over your divorce.

Failure. That’s what divorce is. It’s the failure of a marriage.

Divorce is NOT your personal failure. Yet that’s what almost everyone who gets divorced struggles with – the belief that they are now and forever more a failure of the worst kind because their marriage went bust.

Despite knowing the logical fact that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make it fail, it’s almost impossible not to fall into the trap of believing that somehow you’re more responsible.

And to go along with the guilt about being a failure, you’re probably comparing yourself to all those other people you know who are still married. It’s like you’re piling on misery on top of misery with no way out from underneath the suffocating weight of failure.

What you’re experiencing is normal. However, “normal” doesn’t really help you emerge from the quagmire of self-loathing. So how do you stop beating yourself up? How can you ever believe that you’re not a failure (and that you are worth loving)? By building your self-confidence.

Maybe this answer sounds trivial to you or maybe it sounds impossible. Either way, it’s obvious you’re not feeling that great about yourself if you’re feeling like a failure.

What if, just maybe, building your self-confidence could help you feel better? Isn’t that worth exploring – especially if you could do it easily?

Here are 3 simple ways to start rebuilding your self-confidence so you can get over your divorce faster:

  1. Talk to yourself (out loud and constructively). There are all kinds of studies that concluded talking out loud to yourself can make you smarter, improve your memory and help you focus. The key is to talk constructively and positively to yourself.Talking to yourself like this probably isn’t going to come naturally at first. So you’ve got to set up ways for you to purposefully do it.One of the easiest ways to begin training yourself to talk constructively and positively to yourself is to create a list of 10 things you like about yourself. These 10 things don’t have to be really big or amazing. Maybe you like the color of your eyes, or your sense of humor, or that you know how to make amazing chocolate chip cookies. Once you have your list, read it out loud to yourself with positive emotion periodically throughout the day.
  2. Turn down the volume on your negative bias. Humans have a tendency to focus on the negative. Unfortunately, when you’re going through a divorce that negative bias makes everything worse.Research has shown again and again in all kinds of different settings that it takes about 5 positive interactions to counteract a single negative one. What this means to you is that every time you have a negative thought, you can begin turning down the volume on it by choosing a positive thought and for every positive thought you heap against the one negative thought you’ll continue turning down the volume. The more you practice increasing your positive thoughts, the less impact your negative thoughts will have which means less suffering for you.
  3. Become more curious. Curiosity makes your mind active instead of passive so it enables you to find solutions to the challenges and unfamiliar situations you find yourself in as you go through divorce.The key to becoming more curious during divorce is to ask questions and keep an open mind. Now this is a little tricky because the most common questions asked during divorce are about the past and WHY the divorce happened. These questions aren’t truly helpful for developing curiosity because they keep you stuck in the misery.The kinds of questions that will help you increase your self-confidence and help you get over your divorce are about the present or creating the future you want and are focused on you (and your children) – not your ex.

Even though these tips for building your self-confidence are easy, they do take a little bit of effort to really put into play. It’s OK to ease into them. Feel good about every effort you make toward building your confidence because the more you praise yourself for your efforts the more likely you are to continue making the effort. (Oh yeah, and the more confident you’ll feel.)

And the more you continue feel good about yourself, the faster you’ll get over you divorce because you’ll realize that you’re not a failure. It was your marriage that was a failure.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are struggling with divorce and don’t know how to stop the pain so they can move forward with their lives. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more support and ideas for feeling better after your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.

This article originally appeared on DivorceForce.