Affairs are like car wrecks. The experience is shocking to everyone involved, whether they are to blame or have been injured along the way. In fact, according to Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D, author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, it's normal for hurt partners to experience post-traumatic-stress symptoms including hypersensitivity, an inability to concentrate and a loss of passion. We recently caught up with Dr. Spring when she answered some very personal questions submitted by iVillagers.
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- How do I stop obsessing?
- What if he won't talk about the affair?
- Help! My husband works with his ex-lover
- Is it alright to tell the children?
- How long is too long to hope our marriage will heal?
"How do I stop obsessing about the details of the affair, including the sex?" --from murmaide
It will take a long time to heal. People think that the worst part of being betrayed would be losing trust, but many women who are hurt experience a feeling that is far worse, almost like a total disintegration of themselves. I tell my patients that this turmoil can last at least a year and a half. Since this is such a long time, they say they feel hopeless about healing, and I understand that.
Obsessing is a normal female neurological response to trauma. The first way to stop doing it is to understand that you're not crazy. Too often, people are ashamed to admit that they can't stop thinking about the affair, particularly women. Men have an easier time distracting themselves. Women remember the details.