Rebuilding after an Affair
An affair is one of the most difficult situations a relationship may face. It almost always involves feelings of hurt, betrayal, and violation of trust to one or both parties. After an affair is disclosed or discovered, couples are left to determine what is left of their relationship – to decide whether to pick up the pieces and rebuild, or begin the process of separating and moving beyond the pain.
There is no set rule for what couples “should” do at this point. The outcome following an affair is unpredictable – you may not know how you are going to react or feel until you are in this situation. And it’s also a process, which may require revisiting feelings over and over. It is quite normal, for example, to go through a whole range of emotions even within the same day, from loving the person who cheated on you to desperately wishing upon them the same pain that you may feel, or just being completely confused by how it all happened. The same is true of the participating partner. They may feel disappointed and angry at themselves one moment, clear and determined to fight for the relationship the next. This roller-coaster ride of emotions is par for the course.
How people respond to a betrayal in the relationship will also depend on the circumstances around the infidelity. For example, a year-long secret affair that also involves emotional connection is inherently different than a one-night stand with no connection beyond the physical. The participating partner’s attitude will also play a huge role – are they remorseful? Or are they minimizing the situation, and blaming the other person / the relationship for “letting it happen”?
Some couples never recover from an affair or betrayal, as they are unable to rebuild trust, they have fallen out of love altogether and feel that they have nothing left to fight for. It can be a very low point to come to this realization.
Strengthening the Relationship
That said, what is interesting is that some couples can actually become stronger as a result, and I have seen this happen in my practice. How is this possible? The process of getting to this point takes time, work, and can be emotionally exhausting for both the participating partner and the non-participating partner. However, couples who do reach this point are more resilient because they have identified blind spots, have had to dig deep and examine who they are, what they want out of a relationship, and commit to it in a whole new way. However painful, these couples are able begin a new chapter in their life.
Beginning the Process of Healing
Just know that it is possible to rebuild, reconnect, and recommit to a relationship, even after something as difficult and devastating as an affair. There is hope! Even if this seems far off at the moment. There are specific steps and strategies that can be implemented by both parties to give you a better chance of healing.
And if you would like some support in doing this effectively, or just want an objective third party to help sort through what happened, I can help. The sooner you can begin working through this difficult time together, the sooner you can begin the process of healing– whatever that looks like for you.