Affair healing Blog
Years ago, I was video recording the “Family Night” event at our church’s summer camp. It was before the age of digital cameras and phones, and so my VHS recording would become the only visual documentation of that event.
The program was filled with the usual mix of silly and folksy presentations: skits, songs, and children pretending (usually unsuccessfully) to have talent. About halfway through the event, one of our elderly members started his stand-up comedy routine. He was a friend to many, father and grandfather to some who were there.
I witnessed the event through the lens of the video camera, watching his animated movements as he entertained the audience. When he suddenly stumbled forward, I thought it was part of the act. The witnesses did, too, even as he fell to the ground.
A nurse rushed forward, felt his pulse, and yelled out, “He's having a heart attack. Everyone leave the room.” The show stopped, but the camera continued to record. A few minutes passed before I thought about the video and turned it off.
I was a friend of the family. I let them get through the funeral and a period of grief before informing his daughter that the event had been recorded. I considered not telling her, wondering if it would be kinder to just erase the tape, but decided it shouldn’t be my choice.
She thanked me. She said she might want to watch it eventually, but not yet.
A few months later, she asked for the tape. The immediate family gathered to watch the recording. They laughed at the last silly jokes told by their father/grandfather, then grieved together as they saw him fold onto the floor.
To my knowledge, it was the one and only time anyone watched that video. It seemed important to the family, a part of their healing, but unnecessary for further review.
Couples healing from an affair must do something similar as part of their healing. There needs to be a time when they agree to review what happened, to look at the painful reminder and let grief do its work. This review may be a process, not just a single event. Once it is done, however, they need to move on.
If the daughter had watched the video in a repeated ritual, she likely would have remained stuck in her pain. We can recognize how destructive that behavior would be. It is, however, the mistake some people make following the trauma of betrayal. They replay the tape over and over again, wondering why they can’t get past the hurt.
If you’ve been wounded by infidelity, then you’ve lost something. You’ve lost innocence, simple trust. Maybe you’ve even lost your partner. You will need to grieve deeply.
But, at some point, stop playing the tape.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder