Laugh Heartily, Share Sorrow
When dealing with an affair, a couple might experience a shift in friendships. Often, friends you enjoyed spending great times with suddenly don't want to be around you and the tension. Other friends on the fringe before now seem to move toward you and/or your spouse.
Isolation waits to pounce. Isolation whispers believable lies:
“Nobody wants to deal with your pain.”
“Your anger is too volatile for anyone to enjoy being with you.”
“You're a mess, and nobody wants to be with a mess.”
Don’t withdraw from friendships due to shame and guilt over difficulty in your marriage. Shame likes to isolate. Two poor ways we handle this emotion are to truly disengage and stay away from others or we live behind a facade so no one can really get close. The facade has to go! Honesty is a must! Resist the temptation to distance yourself from others. Mature friends can handle you in your messiness. During this transitional time, intentionally seek out a person or two or three to regularly connect with who can handle your pain, your anger, your messiness and who also have a listening ear for God.
What traits will these friends have? They'll value authenticity, wanting to get the real you, not the facade. They'll be able to cry with you in your sorrow. They'll be able to stay with you when you share your anger - even if it is loud and a little (or a lot) over the top. They won't walk on eggshells but will instead feel the freedom to crack a joke and laugh heartily with you. Also, these friends will listen well to your heart. Most importantly, they won't try to fix you through offering cheap advice that comes out of their own uncomfortable reaction to your pain and anger.
These extra eyes and ears will help you see your relationship more clearly. They can help you sort through your behaviors, feelings and thoughts. They'll sense a good time to talk more about God and spiritual matters and know when to come in through another door.
As time goes on, you should lean less on your friends and more on your mate during this messy, rocky process. These friends can help you stay sane in the craziness of affair recovery. Even so, the greater friendship goal is learning to express your heart, including your anger, with your spouse. This expression comes in a way that builds your marriage up not tear it down.
So stay in relationship with those who are for you and for your marriage. It’s a long journey, and we all need compassionate friends to prop us up or say a kind (or even a difficult) word. Sometimes we just need a breathing friend to sit in the same room while God has His way with our soul.
Who are your friends that you trust with all of you, good and bad? If you don’t have anyone, where can you begin that search?