Discover the top 10 important ways to prevent relapse of your affair.
Trying to figure out how to prevent relapse of affair?
These 10 tips will help.
Read the entire ‘Affair Relapse Prevention’ series:
Part One: 7 bottom line reasons for an affair relapses.
>Part Two: 10 secrets on how to prevent affair relapse.
Part Three: The importance of knowing WHY you want to stop.
Regrettably I was that second person for too long, but eventually, the affair fog lifted,
and I figured out the truth of what I really wanted.
I learned a lot of lessons through my continuous relapses,
plus through the research of infidelity recovery experts.
I’d like to share these lessons with you.
First let me define what Affair Relapse really is.
Relapse of an affair can be defined as:
You’ve ended the affair, and have sincerely reached out for help, started a recovery plan,
and have showed some great progress to restore yourself, and your marriage.
But then something happens, which causes you to fall back into ‘acting out behaviors’ of the affair again.
To be more clear, you resumed contact with your affair partner again.
Let’s look at the top 10 ways of how to prevent relapse of your affair.
I’m going to list the reasons many people go back to their affair partner, help you recognize the subtle signs of potential relapse in yourself,
and learn how to prevent relapse of the affair.
1. Recognize when you’re still idealizing the affair partner.
Are you still putting him on a pedestal in your mind?
- Many women will confide in me, after they’ve ended their affair, about ‘how much they miss the AP’,
how he said ‘he’d wait for them’, what ‘a unique bond and connection they had’, and ‘how great he was.’
- The Limerence Stage blinds you to the negative qualities about the other person you’re in Limerence with,
and you only see their “great qualities.”It’s so easy to minimize an affair partners character flaws,
but magnify our husbands faults.
A husband stands no chance in that comparison, because the affair wasn’t based in reality.
Affairs survive in a fantasy world; very separate from the realities and pressure of real life.
- Read this post, would your affair partner make a good husband?
I always tell women to make a list of every negative quality, or red flag,
they can think of about the affair partner, no matter how small.
The first thing on that list should be – he was willing to have an affair with a married woman.
Sometimes, it was even with his own friends wife. An honorable man would not do that.
This is not to excuse your part, but to show the character of a man who had the choice to be a real man
and turn away from adultery, but he didn’t.
Is that someone you really want to end up with?
2. Take your thoughts captive before they lead you into relapse.
- Much like the last one, only this one is all about your thoughts.
Are you allowing yourself to continue the fantasies in your thoughts about him?
which is what led you into the affair in the first place.But that kind of thinking only leads to relapse.
- You’ll know you’re where you’re thoughts are if you’re still debating whether you’re making the right decision or not, by ending it.
As long as you allow your thoughts to steer you wherever they want to go,
your feelings will follow, and you’ll feel internal chaos and conflict.If you haven’t read these two posts,
I strongly urge you to read my posts: the 5 ways your affair started in your thoughts,
and the real reason you can’t get over your affair.
- As the bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
3. Recognize your biggest triggers for relapse.
- A trigger is what sparks our response to something which could be a situation, an event, place or routine time
when you did a particular behavior.
- Just like many alcoholics can identify with certain times of day they drank, or the sound of popping a beer top can be a trigger to drink;
you also likely have hidden triggers for a potential affair relapse.
- Do you find yourself wanting to call or text him at certain times of the day?
That’s very normal when trying to overcome all kinds of bad habits or when starting a recovery program.
- When you recognize you may be triggered to call him on your way to work (because you always called him on the way to work)
you can prepare for that trigger ahead of time by doing something different.
(i.e. listen to a new podcast, or go a different way, for example.)
- Does hearing a particular song make you think of him, or want to contact him? What will you do instead?
- The power of triggers diminish when we know what they are in advance what they are, and we plan for them.
Making a plan for what you’ll do ahead of time, when those triggers come, will set you up for success and not relapse.
4. Plan for potential traps, triggers or setbacks.
- #3 was recognizing your triggers; this one is planning on what you’ll do with those triggers.
As the old saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
- A practical plan is to get out a pen and paper, and write down areas where you could be
triggered to resume contact with your affair partner.
Like my example in the last point, these traps can be an urge to contact him at a certain time
because that’s what you’ve always done. So, take your time and really think about what those potential traps and triggers can be for you.
- Then next to each potential trigger, write a plan of what you’ll do instead.
Come with a multitude of options to do instead, if you’re triggered.
- Triggers can also be feelings that come up,which may cause you to want to numb those uncomfortable feelings, by acting out again.
Write your consequences for relapse when you’re feeling strong,
to read over when you’re weak:
- Write the 3 biggest consequences if you relapse to you
- Also the 3 benefits consequence/gains to not relapse.
5. Be willing to face the uncomfortable feelings.
- This could mean your uncomfortable feelings of shame or depression.
But it could also mean being willing to sit alongside your husbands grief, pain and anger while he process through it,
in his own roller coaster of emotions.
(Seeing my husbands pain, that I caused, was the hardest one for me. It still can be if I allow my thoughts to go there.)
- The truth is, restoring yourself and your marriage, after an affair is hard work.
Frankly, you’re going to experience many crappy feelings along the way.
The end result is worth it, but not if we buffer away those feelings.
(Which could be numbing over drinking, drugs, over shopping, gambling and of course, acting out in an affair).
- By dispelling the myth that your life should always be comfortable, happy or peaceful all the time; and instead decide
to walk through any painful feelings as they arrive, without numbing, you’ll be more prepared to prevent relapse.
Allow yourself to walk through the shame, and depression without finding escape mechanisms like returning to the AP.
Start paying close attention to what you’re feeling (and journal it),
when you have a desire to make contact with the AP again.
- I suggest keeping a private journal, and a lock box to store it, if you’re concerned someone will read it.
But it’s important to get your feelings out, and journaling is a great way to do this.
- Also have routine visits with a good personal counselor during your recovery. Mine helped me immensely.
I came to realize I was going to have pain and difficulty, whatever I did.
The pain after an affair will be there, whether you face it now, or prolong the pain by continuing in destructive patterns.
As Robert Frost said “The best way out is always through.”
6. Throw away all mementos, pictures, gifts, books,
and songs on your playlist, that remind you of him.
- Keeping those things that are connected in any way to your affair partner, only keeps you tied to him in an unhealthy way.
It’s continuing to hold onto a piece of him, and the affair, and it often leads to relapse.
- Think of it this way, if your husband knew you had them still, he wouldn’t be too happy right?
- There’s an old recovery principle, “we’re only as sick as our secrets”.
It’s our secrets that perpetuated the affair, so all secret saving of anything that came from him, or reminds you of him,
has to go.
If you’re still holding on to memento’s, then you’re still holding onto your affair and your healing will be delayed.
Okay, enough said on this one.
7. Never minimize the seriousness of sticking to the “No Contact Policy”.
- Understand that completely ending the affair is a HUGE accomplishment-
but it’s only the start in healing yourself, and your marriage.
- While your brain chemicals are leveling out and returning to normal,
your brain might think of all kinds of excuses to resume the affair.
- Our brains search out those things that led to past surges in dopamine, whether they were good things for us or not.
(Your brain doesn’t differentiate the two).
- Minimizing the importance of not contacting the AP, can be one way your brain will justify resuming contact;
to experience that surge of dopamine again. You’re way smarter than to fall for that this time.
- Follow my No Contact Checklist and do your recovery plan, like your life depends on it.
Because it does.
The life as you now know it, can easily be shattered, if you relapse back into the affair.
- Have you taken drastic steps to do whatever it takes to keep to the policy of no contact?
Be sure to download my No Contact Checklist, if you don’t have it yet.
- Understand that completely ending the affair is a HUGE accomplishment-
8. Overestimating your strength, and ability, to withstand the temptation now.
- Many times, after a period of no contact with an affair partner, women often overestimate their ability to withstand the temptation.
An example of this may be a desire to ‘end the affair with him in person’ (NO! don’t do this, it’s a common relapse trap).
- Sometimes we’ll loosen up on our recovery plan once we’ve made some progress in our own healing.
Some examples of this might be: You don’t turn around and walk away, if you see him walking towards you at work,
or, if he calls your name in a store. Or, you think you’ll just talk to him at church to see how he’s doing.
- Many women feel bad, or mean, for doing this, so they justify talking to him (just this once)
because they reason that they’re so much stronger than they used to.
- Please understand, any contact with an affair partner is a setback.
It doesn’t mean you’ll relapse now.. but it’s a warning sign that you’re more vulnerable to it, then if you just walked away.
- Put every decision, or reaction, through this filter- would I do this if my husband was standing here?
Would I do this if Jesus were here with me?
Is what I’m doing, getting me closer, or farther away, from the being a woman of integrity that I want to be?
9. Stop behaviors that make you vulnerable to relapse.
- If we were to get real, we’d see how certain behaviors make us vulnerable to an affair, whether that means
contacting your affair partner, or starting a new affair, for example.
- Examples of some common behaviors we do with members of the opposite sex are:
Flirting, Admiring or Complimenting too much, Divulging secrets only your spouse should know, Talking about problems in your marriage,
Manipulating events to allow yourself to be alone with someone of the opposite sex, or finding excuses to text, call or reach out to them in any way.
Read this post on the 34 warning signs of emotional affairs.
- Relapse is more likely when someone chooses to return to old, familiar behaviors,
to avoid the discomfort that they feel during growth and change.
10. Be consistent with your support groups, accountability partner or recovery plan.
- When we stop our support groups too soon, or we get lax about our recovery plan before we’re ready,
can all make us susceptible to affair relapse.
At the root of that is really pride. Pride tells us we can do it ourselves,
that we don’t need to keep connections or be authentic with others.
- But it’s only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and authentic (with the right people of course),
that we understand our strength is in numbers.
Shame grows without support and authenticity, with safe people.
- Shame and isolation are breeding grounds for relapse- no matter what type of recovery you’re in.
But it applies just as much, if not more, with infidelity recovery.
The shame a woman often feels after her own unfaithfulness, can be crippling and isolating.
As Brene Brown says: “Shame can’t grow where there’s vulnerability and authenticity.”
- If you come from faith, continue to pray and ask God for strength to
overcome any temptation and take the desire out of your heart.
Even after listing all these ways of how to prevent relapse, I realize it all comes down to one thing:
You have to want recovery from your affair bad enough in your heart.
Do you really want a better life; a life of being faithful and integrity?
Are you truly tired of the lies and secrets to cover up this thing you probably never thought you were capable of doing?
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to affair recovery, is ourselves.
We all have the results in our lives, as a result of the choices we’ve made.
So, if you don’t like your life right now, make a commitment to yourself to change, for instance.
You have so much potential my friend, and you were created for so much more than this!
If you are a woman who had an affair, I’d love if you’d read my letter to you.
I understand your pain and heartache.
See more posts from my affair recovery blog.
Are you a betrayed husband needing some help and direction?
I have an entire section of posts for you, with more being added often.
You may also be interested in our marriage rebuilding ideas and posts.