After the Affair – 5 Emotional Triggers

Dealing with your husband cheating is like going on a rollercoaster with your emotions. With that said, you will likely experience emotional triggers after your husband’s affair. An emotional trigger is something that brings back memories of the affair and sometimes takes you back to a place where you’re feeling pretty down. Of course, the triggers are worse in the beginning, but even years later, something can happen that can bring up those emotions again. I still get triggers from time to time, but because I know what they are, I can deal with them in a positive manner. Below are some common triggers.

1. Events relived. Here’s a personal example. My husband changed his hours at work while he was having the affair. I’m not sure if initiated the change or if his job did, but the new hours he worked let him spend more time with the other woman. After I discovered the affair, he went back to his normal schedule, but then told me his job was making him change his hours again. When this happened, I got a pain in the pit of my stomach. His announcement took me back to the time when I found out that he was cheating. Even though we were separated when his hours changed back, I was still upset because I associated that change with the affair.
2. Weddings/love stories/love songs. These three things can be huge triggers because they can remind you of the love that you and your husband had prior to the affair, or remind you of the love you no longer have.
3. Your husband. Your husband is probably the #1 Trigger. Sometimes just looking at him can be a reminder of the affair. This is why you have to work extra hard to rebuild trust if you decide to stay in the marriage.
4. Other people asking you about the marriage. When friends say things like, “How are you and your husband doing?” this can remind you that you aren’t doing well at all.
5. Kids (if you have them). Sometimes, kids say things that just break your heart. They might not know that your husband cheated, but might still innocently say something like, “I really love our family and spending time together.” This can be an emotional trigger because it could cause you to think about the future, where your family may not be unified anymore.

After the affair, you will likely have triggers from time to time. Understanding and recognizing them is half the battle. The rest of the battle is not letting them take over your day or your life.

12 thoughts on “After the Affair – 5 Emotional Triggers”

  1. My husband was in the military. My triggers are surrounding anything that has to do with words such as Fort, uniforms, even the sight of people are the mention of Veterans Day is painful.

    1. Hello T,

      The triggers around the affair can be very painful, I am sure the mention of those words bring you back to that time in your life filled with anger, shock, and sadness. My hope for you is that the triggers are only temporary, and that they do not occur that often, because sometimes the triggers can consume your life. Big hug to you, take care!

  2. I just wish I could forget it like he seems to have been able to do. I try really hard to not always throw it at him but it’s hard. My skin crawls when I hear about him talking about his female workmates.

    She was so much younger than me and when he got that attention that when he was young he felt he didn’t get so I guess it was a big thing for him to have this young girl interested in him. I don’t know. I just know it has forever changed our interaction. I still feel like it’s the same day it happened a lot of times. Sometimes I look at him & part of me hates him for it.

    I felt so secure thinking this would never happen again with him. I’ve been cheated on in other relationships and it made me closed off but somehow I was able to let my guard down. I thought it would never happen to me. It’s not like he wasn’t getting any attention from me, and I just wish that I didn’t hear that little voice when he gets online wondering what he’s really doing. He kept this from me so easily now I wonder if he’s just trying to cover it up better.

    They say once a cheater always a cheater. I am trying to not think of this all the time but theres some days thats all that is on my mind. I’m so gunshy about the whole thing that I don’t think I will ever be the same. I am living like I am waiting for the other shoe to fall, you know?

  3. b from USA,
    How long ago did you find out about your H’s A? I am almost 14 months out and it has gotten easier..the triggers happen less often and when they do the downward plunge on the roller coaster or the insecure panic does not last long..my H has been a huge help w that..in the beginning he definitely wanted to ignore it if he could because it was easier for him ( he didn’t like being that guy, the one who cheated and let down his wife and kids)..but if they are truly remorseful they learn they have to be there for us..we are dealing w a version of post traumatic stress disorder..so if my H sees me flinch when we watch tv because something refers to cheating he always hugs me tight, says how sorry he is still and how much he loves me..most times it helps, there are times I do get sad or angry to be honest, because I’ll think or say I just don’t understand when I see and feel how much he loves me..but it makes it not so explosive..you feeling secure again has to be a top priority of your H..and everything he does must be an open book to you..good luck and Hugs

  4. I am wondering how long most wives who stay married think of the other woman on a daily basis? We were married 22 years when he cheated. We did counseling, & have become closer than we maybe ever had been. But I can’t seem to let go of the image of that home wrecker. I have ridiculous triggers daily & it has been almost 3 years since I saw her & found out. Am I just obsessive? Or is this normal? I pray for just a 24 hour reprieve of thinking about her. I don’t know anyone personally to ask, all the women I know who have been cheated on left their husbands. I trust him to the best of my ability, I just want to stop thinking of her. She doesn’t deserve a second thought! Help!

    1. Hi AJ,

      Although I left my husband, I might be able to offer a perspective that might help. The only thing that I think might help you is affirmations, which are statements that you say to yourself to ‘fight’ those negative thoughts. Triggers are very common and if you do not ‘fight back’ with positive affirmation, they can consume your mind. For instance you might say the following statement “I deserve to consume my mind with positive thoughts that serve me well and contribute to my overall happiness and my wonderful marriage.” Say that to yourself, consistently (doing it consistently is very important), several times a day. Writing it down will speed up the process. If you do this daily for about 2 weeks, you should notice some improvement. If you are willing to try it, let me know if it works.

  5. My husband have been married since I was 16 and he was 19 . We’ve been married 11 years now . I used to be PROUD of our marriage . My sibling are always asking me how we do it . How do you two make it look so easy you guys look like you are still dating . Well that was until I caught my husband talking to a girl behind my back . Worst day of my life and it has ruined me . I used to be such a outgoing person so happy with my life . Even the fact that our son suffers from very bad mental health problems has never had me down . Our son means the world to me he without going in to all his diagnosis I will just say it has not been easy at all. When I found out my husband has had a emotional affair with this girl after being split up for a while . We had that talk the tell me the truth the whole truth . After he spilled his guts out to me I just wanted to leave not even say one more word to him I was and still am very disgusted . I just lost it crying so bad I was puking (still do sometimes. ) I had my step dad go over there and talk to him . Believe it or not he had told my step dad he didn’t feel loved like he should because all my time was going to our son . Giving the fact that yes I may gave our son more attention in a well needed manner as far as being a normal parent and staying very consitint . I felt like that was a massive cop out . I didn’t go have a affair because my life wasn’t going as planned . I dealt with my life in a very positive manner always smiling . Helping others that have kids with autism . So it’s been 2 years since I found out the very disgusting affair and as others have said before its like I relive that day over and over again. A year after the first affair I came home one night . Keep in mind my son was home with a friend over . I found out he had been on the computer having online sex with lots of girls . I found all there messages I read them all as I was reading them he was denying it the whole time claiming they are bots . I was there feeling so emotionally frozen I could react like a normal person . I had to hold my composure and yet put on a smile so my son had a great night with his friend due to the fact that he doesn’t have friends over often. Until his friend left the next day did I really get to face it yet again . I feel so broken from the first time so I in my heart now I can’t ruin my sons life and leave his dad like my parents did to me in when I needed them the most . This time he had been doing it for 5 months . The sick thing I hate the most is to be very honest with you guys . I became so sick from just replaying all of this in my head I started to burn my ankles to take the pain away from my heart and put it in my ankle so at least the strain on my heart could take a break for a short time. I am now on meds to keep my head above water because of this man I once loved so much and never thought he would ever be such a man to do this to me . I have tried to leave a couple times . Just to be able to heal from this but I just can’t get my self to do it. I am tired of always thinking what do thoes girls have that I don’t . I can’t bring myself to just be happy with telling him I forgive you and really forgiving him. I feel like a very weak person for not leaveing him. I will pray for all of you . Please also keep me in your prayers. I do truly love my husband I don’t want this pain any longer I just want to be happy like before all this mess came out.

  6. I’m very sorry about my spelling and punctuation I was crying hard when I wrote this. I just feel so blessed to have found this site. 🙂

    1. Hi Deaneene,
      I wish I could give you a big hug in person, but you will have to certainly accept a virtual hug from me. First off, cheers to you for being such a great mom. I can not imagine the amount of stress that one would have caring for a child that has more needs than the average. I have two kids myself and often times are overwhelmed, so if no one told you today you are a great mom, you are.
      As far as your husband, people change, and it is ok. Do not be so hard on yourself. You mentioned online sex, it is very addictive, and he attraction probably has nothing to do with your personality/looks and everything to do with it is different. Even if you did not pay attention to him as much, he could of made other choices.
      Has he taken action to restore trust? I ask because you still seem to be in a great deal of pain, and the only way to get through it is to work through it as a couple is to rebuild the foundation of trust, which he has a big part to play. You also have some work to do on yourself, restoring your self-esteem. Sometimes when you are with someone so long, your self-worth becomes dependent on the other person. And when that dependency fails us, it can be heart-breaking. But maybe this experience is teaching you (us) that no other person is responsible for your self-worth. This is good because it means that you have total power to control it. So what I want you to think about it building you up, so strong that nothing can tear you down like this again. If you have the power to be a good mom, you have the power to have self-worth. As you build yourself up, ask your husband to step up and help restore trust. Either he is going to help restore trust or not, don’t force him, all you can do is ask. You are not responsible for him or his actions.
      Last but not least, I know you mentioned burning your ankles as a transferal of pain, which I can understand because the pain of the heart can be more severe than physical pain. At the same time, I want you to know that you deserve a better feeling, you deserve to smile and be happy and not in so much pain. That will start to change for you once you put your needs first. You are such a giving person, but you have to take care of yourself so that you have enough to give others, right now, your tank it going towards E, but guess what? You have the power to change it, today. Start small. Start by saying this affirmation everyday to yourself, a couple of times a day. “I deserve to feel good and be happy. I deserve to be respected.” Say it a couple of times a day, and in time, things will slowly start to change if you believe. Also think about therapy if you can, it is a form of treating yourself and there is nothing wrong with it. Someone told me today that I need to consider it myself, and I am thinking about trying to figure out how I can go see a therapist, nothing wrong with it. Take care of yourself, big hugs to you!

      ps – dont worry about the spelling, eventually I will have a better way to post..

  7. I found a song that has help me . It’s from a band called Boyce avenue (skyscraper) I hope it touches all of you like it did me. 🙂

  8. We got married after knowing each other 2 1/2 weeks. Both our parents were divorced and we said we would work through anything but cheating. He hated cheaters and friendships would end if he found out someone cheat. After 29 years of marriage, he had an affair with the neighbor’s daughter who is 28 years old. He did this while I went to take care of my sister who was dieing of cancer. It has almost been 3 months since I found out. The affair has distroyed me. I knew something was wrong when I came home. He told me she was fat and our friend’s daughter. It was me and all in my head. This girl walked in our house twice without knocking, would be outside as soon as my husband stepped outside, and would flaunt herself in front of him. She would ask our son about his dad. I found out two weeks after I was home. Only because I confronted her and she denied it but I told my husband she said she slept with him. We have gone to counseling and he has been trying. Things have been better but my sister died and it has triggered everything to the surface. I want him to confront her on the games she played but he won’t. She is the chief of police daughter. I have so much hurt, anger, and resentment towards him. Why did he throw our marriage away? Why wasn’t I good enough for him? Will our marriage get through this? The night I found out he left but was home the next day because I asked him. I had him leave last night.

    1. Hi Wendy,

      First and foremost I am sorry to hear about your sister, may she rest in peace. You are going through so much right now. The anger and hurt is very high as you are dealing with alot. Let me try to answer some of the questions in my humble opinion. Why did he throw the marriage away? This wasn’t about him, especially if she was flaunting herself around – unfortunately I wish I could say many husbands are strong and can ignore it – but in situations like this they lose their brain and start thinking about sex. Why wasn’t you good enough? In my opinion, has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with him – greed is powerful. There are tons of reasons husbands decide to cheat, and although a breakdown in the marriage is a common reason, just as common is ego (do I still have it) or just sex. I wish it was more complicated but often it is not.

      It’s unfortunate she lives so close – and seems to not care. Will our marriage get through this? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell. There are so many factors involved. What I would recommend is that you let him take the lead on rebuilding. His actions caused this, so he needs to step up if he wants to continue the marriage. Meanwhile, you focus on YOU, your emotional healing from your sister and lost of trust in the marriage. Be easy on yourself. I hope the outcome is whatever is best for you and your family.

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