Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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In the aftermath of an affair it is common, and natural, for the injured party to feel jealous. The affair may have ended some time ago, as a couple you may be working together to understand the causes and regain trust, but nevertheless feelings of jealousy can overcome you without warning and often with no apparent cause.
Sometimes you will be able to identify the trigger for these jealous feelings, such as your partner staying late at work or saying that they are going to visit a friend. In these cases you can talk about what your partner can do to reduce the feelings of jealousy, to reassure you that they are actually doing what they say they are doing. In other cases, the trigger may be something less obvious such as a piece of music, a taste or a smell. In many cases, it is impossible to identify exactly what the trigger is.
“Flashbacks” are normal, and over time they will become less frequent and less intense, but they can be very distressing. Because they can come at you out of nothing, it can take you by surprise, and it can feel as if you’ve gone backwards.
When a flashback happens, it is useful if you can discuss it with your partner. Recovery from an affair is something that is best done as a couple, as this restores trust. So it is healthy to be able to say to your partner “I’m feeling really jealous at the moment, I’m not sure why”. Your partner can’t take those feelings away but they can be understanding and sympathetic.
Part of feeling jealous is about feeling alone, being abandoned, the fact that there is someone you can share your feeling helps to counteract the feeling of jealousy. A sympathetic partner can maybe give you a hug, reassure you that it’s all long over, say sorry for what they did again. How they can best help you will vary and it’s a good idea if you can talk about it and tell your partner what you need when it happens.
If you are the one who’s had the affair, you may not want to be reminded of it – you may be embarrassed or ashamed of what you’ve done, or you may find conversations about the subject difficult or distressing. But it’s really important that you do allow your partner to express their feelings. If you in any way block your partner from doing so, you are starting to rebuild the wall of secrecy that existed between you during the affair – you are making it more difficult for your partner to get close to you and trust you again.
This is one aspect of recovering from an affair and emphasises the idea that to rebuild trust and improve your relationship you and your partner need to be working together, rather than working in isolation, which is what will have happened during the affair.
Counselling can help by providing a safe environment to talk through these feelings with your partner and to develop strategies for working together.