Affair Triggers: 5 Tips to Help When You or Your Spouse Have a Flash Back

BY: - 27 Dec '17 | Infidelity

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Remember the scene from the movie “Best Man” where Lance fights flashbacks of betrayal running through his head at the altar. Yet, somehow, he finds the strength to marry Mia despite her having slept with his best man Harper. He doesn’t allow the flashbacks that could be a setback to keep him from making a decision and commitment to move forward in his relationship.  While this is a movie, it truly imitates life. With forgiveness and the below strategies, your marriage can confront and conquer flashbacks after an affair just as my husband and I have done.

I can honestly say I’ve been here personally, minus the altar scene. I have been haunted by flashbacks and sexual visions that I too have battled as a result of my husband’s affair.  For every victory my husband would win, it seemed like he’d have to take a step or two back almost every time a flashback was triggered.

No matter how hard I fought (and, oh yes, you can trust and believe it is a fight to combat such ugly visions, the devil tried to get all up in the details and will do the same with you too) I could not free myself from these thoughts until I did the things I outline below. Often times it truly can feel like you are taking one step forward and five steps back. This typically proves true especially when you’re experiencing headway between you and your spouse. I remember asking, “Will this roller coaster ride ever end?”  Hard as it is to grasp, I promise you with patience and the below strategies, they will slowly become a thing of the past.

Seek Spousal Support

Understand flashbacks are a shared responsibility and experience. For the spouse who has strayed, this can be very hard because flashbacks stir up feelings of guilt and/or frustration. However, as challenging as it may be, the fastest road to getting back to “normal” and advancing the marriage is for the unfaithful partner to be extremely patient and understanding.  Though it will not come naturally, I promise you it is a powerful bonding experience. If you both approach this with the right attitude you can actually end up feeling closer than ever before in your marriage and not only survive, but thrive.

Identify Your Triggers

In an effort to either avoid or prepare yourself against future occurrences, you should become sensitive and conscious to people, places, things, and situations that trigger your flashbacks. Pay close attention and, as time goes by, you will be able to stay clear of the situations that can cause emotional harm.

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Reduce Flashbacks

Understanding triggers allows both spouses to work as a T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves More) to avoid flashbacks and/or fights. I can recall saying to Chris “When you’re late getting home from work or other functions and I haven’t heard from you, I worry about where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing. Can we figure out a way to be proactive in avoiding this from happening?” Perhaps there is a place that triggers a flashback (e.g. driving by the restaurant you walked in on your spouse and the affair partner as you discovered the affair). Until you are over the affair, I strongly suggest avoiding it and taking a different route until you KNOW it will not phase you. Trust me, you will get to that place if you persevere!

Flashback Self Soothing

I’m encouraging you to try various activities until you determine what works best for you.  Pay very close attention to what calms you when you have a flashback and put this into practice repeatedly along with other soothing/relaxing activities. Perhaps you want your spouse to acknowledge your feelings by offering to hold and reassure you.  Or maybe you want your spouse to extend you time and space to be by yourself.  Let your spouse know what works best for you and don’t be hesitant in communicating your truth. Be upfront and forth coming with what is on your heart.

Rollercoaster Riding

Flashbacks are inevitable. Don’t try to stop them initially until you have mastered managing them (this will come in time, trust me I know). Trying to stop them early on could intensify and increase more flashbacks.  Say to yourself, “This is just a flashback passing by.”  Flashbacks are like roller-coasters. No matter how terrifying they may seem, no matter how much it feels like it will never end, they last no more than 10-15 minutes on average. Occasionally, they might last a little longer, but that is rare.  Just like roller-coasters have ups and downs, so will you in terms of them coming in waves.  Just hold on, recognize it for what it is, seek the help and support you need while taking comfort in knowing…this too shall pass!

If your flashback frequency occurs less often and doesn’t hit you as hard, pat yourself on the back because you’ve made progress!  The more you’re able to identify that you’re getting a healthier handle on monitoring and managing your flashbacks, the faster they will improve. You will know that healing after an affair is nearly complete when flashbacks don’t make you think twice and you can carry on immediately, functioning in your day while having confidence in yourself and the marriage.

About the author

Da-Nay Macklin wrote 59 articles on this blog.

Coach Da-Nay Macklin is a Certified Christian Life & Relationship Coach, founder of the Courageous Conquerors Mastermind and Author of Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted Available on Amazon She is one of the nation’s leading experts on infidelity and a thought leader on maximizing potential as she assists couples and individuals to live life by design and not default. Da-Nay has been has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal after successfully navigating adultery in her marriage, and named one of the 15 most powerful women on the south side of Chicago. She now resides in Charlotte, NC with her loving husband and daughter.


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Should I Disown My Sister For Cheating With My Husband?

BY: - 9 Jan '18 | Infidelity

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TNM male with 2 females feature

Dear Dr. Buckingham,

My marriage has been torn apart because of the actions of two people that I love to the moon and back. My husband of 6 years slept with my younger sister. My younger sister came to stay with us after she graduated college. We allowed her to stay with us until she got on her feet.

My husband is 42 years old and my sister is 22 years old. You might be wondering why I mentioned their ages. Well I believe that my husband seduced my younger sister. He purchased her clothes and gave her money. Initially, I did not think anything about their relationship until he allowed her to drive his Aston Martin Vanquish. The car cost over $200K.

Learn how to affair-proof your marriage from this day forward with our FREE eGuide – 3 Ways to Rebuild Your Marriage After an Affair

I started to question their relationship when this started because he has never allowed me to drive the car. I went to work one day and decided to come home early. As I walked through the door I saw the two of them on the couch kissing. I quickly closed the door and jumped back in my car. I went to a friend’s house and stayed there for the night. My husband called and begged me to come home. My husband provides me with a first class lifestyle, but treats me a like a second-class citizen. I know that I have to face this, but I feel so disrespected by both of them and my heart is crushed. I know that my marriage is over, but I cannot divorce my sister. Should I Disown My Sister for Cheating with My Husband?

Please help,

Second Class Wife

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Second Class Wife,

I am truly sorry that you are dealing with such pain and betrayal caused by your loved ones. However, in matters such as these, I often encourage individuals to not make long-term decisions while in emotional distress. Disowning your sister by terminating all connection with her is a serious decision and can be emotionally taxing. While the thought of disowning her might be the best way to move forward from the painful experience, you must make sure that you are doing so for the right reason.

Will disowning her help you cope or just punish her? Some people might think that the answer to this question does not matter, but it does. If you would like to disown her because you do not want to be reminded of the trauma, then I believe that you have to process what disowning your sister means and what it would look like. As long as you harbor bitter and angry feelings towards her, it does not matter if you cut ties physically or financially because she will always be present in your psyche.

In my opinion, disowning a family member, especially a sibling, is not simple matter. I say this because family dynamics also have to be considered. Parents and family members might feel torn or divided if they take sides. Will your family treat your sister like the “black sheep” of the family? This might not matter to you now, but how your sister copes with being disowned can become a source of on-going anguish for you and others.

When others betray us, we want to see them suffer and may even have thoughts of punishing them. While these feelings are normal, I recommend that you take some time to think about your next steps. Your sister’s betrayal probably has more to do with her than it does you. Believe it or not some people are so self-centered that they have difficulty thinking outside of themselves. Your husband and sister may or may not have been thinking about you before or during their romantic encounters. Either way, you can be grateful that their deceit came to light. It might not feel good to you now, but the revealed deception is good for you.

Whatever decision you make, do so in the right state of mind. If disowning your sister will help you heal and protect you from future harm, then do so. However, I would encourage you to have a conversation with your sister at some point. The purpose of the conversation would be to help you understand, not to agree with or accept her thinking or behavior. Sometimes when people do not understand or know why something happened, it eats them alive. The conversation is important from a therapeutic viewpoint because it can potentially help you with closure and forgiveness down the road. If you cannot bring yourself to have the conversation, consider seeking family therapy for you and your sister.

As a reminder: disowning someone does not always fix or address betrayal effectively. Healing from this situation and gaining insight about how to manage your sister will probably require a lot of prayer and professional counseling. Please get some help because sibling betrayal can feel like the world is ending, especially to individuals like myself who breathe and believe that blood is thicker than water. This kind of thinking causes us to believe that relationships and loyalties within a family are the strongest and most important ones.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 220 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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