6 Tips to getting closure after an affair.
What works and what doesn’t.
The question of getting closure affair an affair seems to come up a lot.
In my experience, it usually comes from an unfaithful wife,
thinking she needs to contact her ex-affair partner to gain closure from him.
In her desire to move forward, healing herself and even her marriage, she sincerely believes that by contacting he ex-AP,
he’ll say something that will finally give her what she needs to let go, or to move on.
But is that really true?
Before I get into that answer, let’s define what closure really means.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines closure in one way as “a often comforting or satisfying sense of finality”
Closure= finality. The ending of an important part of one’s life- a relationship, job, stage of life;
Or in this case- an affair. It’s letting go of what was. Finding closure describes a final acceptance
of what has happened, and moving away from what’s in the past, to some new way of being or feeling..
But putting aside all the fancy definitions and explanations-
at the root of this question an unfaithful wife is really asking is
“how do I really let go & move on?”
She might really be wondering:
“How do I get the information I need from my affair partner,
to know what I really meant to him, why he really did this…
so I can heal and move forward?”
My simple answer to those questions is you won’t get closure from him.
We can search for some type of closure from others, not realizing that that feeling of closure
can never be fully given to us from someone else, it has to happen within ourselves.
It’s very easy to rationalize the importance of our need to contact an AP for this type of closure,
all with the desire to make sense out of the senseless.
But it never works and often leaves a woman feeling even more embarrassed and without answers.
So then how do you get ‘closure’ after an affair?
1. Realize you won’t find closure from your affair partner
(or anyone else); but only within yourself.
You can look for answers from a former affair partner, thinking that he’ll tell you just the right thing to take your pain away,
but seeking closure by contacting an affair partner, usually hurts more than it helps.
You may learn new information, and now this additional information has to be processed by you too —
this is the opposite of closure you were looking for.
Or that he’ll tell you that he didn’t really use you or that it’s not true that you meant nothing to him;
or maybe that his blocking you on social media and his phone was all his wife’s decision- but that he still loves you.
But what would that really do for you?
As though hearing some words from him will help you heal more.
It really won’t.
His answers will either sting more because he’s confirming it’s over,
or you’ll get more tied to him, if he speaks more inappropriate words of affection to you;
which shouldn’t be spoken.
Believe that all that needs to be said- already has.
Even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
This is especially true in an affair; a relationship that never should have occurred,
there really won’t ever be the type of closure from an AP that you think you need,
or will get to make anything right or that will heal your soul.
Create the quiet space to forgive yourself, and let go of the shame that’s likely weighing you down.
Shame may even be disguised as ‘needing closure’,
when really your soul is crying out for forgiveness and ways to release the shame.
I like this quote from the Relationship Uncomplicated podcast :
“True closure is not what we have been trained to think it is.
In order to move forward, what you are looking for is not closure, but healing.
Healing is the process that happens inside, as opposed to external- like the closure you think you need.”
2. Recognize that the One who knows and loves you the most,
is the one who can heal your broken heart the best.
If you don’t come from faith, I know you might roll your eyes at this statement.
But those that know the power of Jesus’ love and desire to heal us know this is true.
If we could truly know the depth and greatness of Almighty God’s love for us,
we could be free of the things that entrap us. None of us will fully know that this side of heaven.
But He is ready and willing to forgive you; and if you haven’t asked Him for that yet, I encourage you to ask now.
Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
I found this to be so true of my own healing, and the healing of my husband’s heart and our marriage- after my affair.
He knew the way to help me let go of the pain, and get closure,
in a way I never could by chasing after it from my ex-AP.
God is not a man, so His healing is not with mere words or lies that are so common from humans.
His healing is complete from within your soul, and there’s no greater closure than that.
3. Be aware of any subtle excuses, to resume contact with an affair partner.
This is part of what happens in that space between ending the affair, and completing getting over him…and it’s your ‘affair brain’ talking.
But your brain may still look for that old ‘fix’ it remembered from before.
Wanting to feel better (i.e. another dopamine high) can make us come up
with all kinds of reasons to get feel better and get that high again.
“Needing closure” from an AP sounds like a reasonable request,
even an important enough reason to contact him.
But it’s not.
It’s the affair fog talking.
I strongly encourage you not to do that.
Having any contact with an affair partner can quickly resume an affair.
In that state of desiring closure, remind yourself of how your life has been spiraling since the affair began,
and don’t minimize the destructive results that will come by looking to an AP for that closure.
4. Allow yourself time to grieve, and to move through withdrawal.
Part of getting closure for yourself is allowing yourself the space to grieve.
This won’t be easy for a betrayed spouse to hear, but there is a process to grieve the loss and let go of the AP and the past.
How long that takes, depends on each person and what they’re doing for their recovery during that time.
So crying, when you need to, is fine and even healing.
Staying stuck in grief and allowing yourself the indulgence of obsessively dwelling on your AP is not healthy, however.
Prolonged grief keeps you stuck in a place of never feeling closure.
You’ll feel a type of withdrawal as your brain chemicals return to normal, and you need to fill that space that you spent in the affair.
Just remember, If this relationship was born out of the lies and secrecy of adultery,
then there’s nothing more that can, or would, be said between you both that will help you to finally feel “Closure”.
So allow yourself space to let the tears come for the various reasons they will.
Just don’t try to relieve your grief by getting closure from him.
5. Clean house & break out the fire pit.
There’s 2 parts to this:
- First, Sometimes the best way to release the things that tie you to an affair partner is get rid of anything
that reminds you of him, or is from him.
Go around the house and gather up anything tied to him- jewelry, cards, photos, perfume, music, clothing etc…
clean house of all of it.
- Next, is write a letter to your AP telling him all the things you need to say that you feel were left unsaid.
Any questions, hurt, anger or sadness- write it all down in your letter.
But instead of mailing it (don’t mail it), you’re going to be roasting some marshmallows with it.Seriously, break out the fire pit, and have a ‘closure burning’ (I made that name up- clever isn’t it?).But whatever you want to call it, this can be very therapeutic
and way more healing than chasing down your AP for some answers.
6. Never give away your power.
I know that statement sounds a bit like ‘feminist, woo-woo, girl power’ stuff.
But there’s some truth to it.
Spending time trying to text your affair partner, call him or contact him via social media,
only makes you look like the weak one, too desperate for his help and love to move forward.
Okay, you might feel that way right now, but it’s not the truth.
Someday you’ll see that; so don’t give up your self respect and honor one more day
by chasing him down to hear whatever you think you need to hear from him for closure.
What reaching out to him for these types of answers only does is to put the power in his hands
to explain to you the meaning behind the relationship-or assess his feelings for you now.
NONE of which is healthy.
You probably already have enough shame and guilt for one person to last a lifetime-
so, why put subject yourself to actions that will only produce more shame?
Part of true healing after an affair, is honoring your core values, that you likely betrayed during your affair.
It takes time to rebuild your soul again and rebuilding that integrity within yourself starts
in those little moments of thinking you need to contact him for closure (or 101 other reasons) BUT YOU DON’T.
Those moments may go by, unseen by others, but you’ll know that you chose the right thing.
That would be an action of integrity and honor to yourself, your marriage, and honoring to God.
Sometimes it’s not really about closure, but in standing up for yourself by finding it within.
To take your life back and start becoming that woman you really want to be.
To summarize ‘getting closure after an affair’,
The only closure you truly need, is the acceptance of what’s already occurred.
You won’t find closure from your affair partner; there’s nothing he can say or do to make the affair suddenly okay
or that will help you let it all go.
It has to come from within you.
God is the source of true healing and closure when you can accept His forgiveness and love and not seek that from a man.
Allowing yourself time and space to forgive yourself and heal from your self betrayal is an important part of your recovery.
Be aware of the subtle excuses your brain will find to resume contact.
It’s the remnants of affair fog and it can suck you back in, if you’re not aware of what’s happening.
Clean house and break out the fire pit.
There’s nothing like a ‘closure burning’, to release all of the items (and thoughts) that are keeping you tied to the affair.
And last, never give away your power to someone else.
Once you move into acceptance- that closure won’t ever occur from anything your AP could say or do;
you’ll eventually find your peace.
Nobody else can do this recovery work for you.
Some closing questions to ask yourself:
- Is holding on really making me at peace,
or is hanging on for closure just keeping me stuck in the past and unable to move forward with my future?
- What do you feel you need to tell him, that you can put in a letter that you do not send– and burn instead to release it?
- Do you really need him to say it’s over? If an affair partner lacked integrity by having an affair with another man’s wife-
Do you really need them to admit it? Is there really going to be anything that will take the pain and chaos from the affair away?