By Liz Paul
If your partner has an affair you will no doubt feel betrayed. You will feel hurt. And confused.
And you will torture yourself thinking about how someone you love had secret moments with someone else. And how they lied to you so easily so they could conceal their affair.
You may even blame yourself for their betrayal.
There is so much hurt you can’t imagine you could ever forgive your partner… let alone resume your relationship with them.
But, recovery from an affair is possible if that is what you want. It will take a lot of work from both of you, but there is hope.
A few important steps that are necessary for recovery to happen include:
Healing after an affair cannot occur without the offending partner’s genuine and consistent expression of remorse
The offending partner also needs to agree to allow you to ask any questions you want in relation to their whereabouts and who they are with – in fact, they should become so transparent that you do not need to ask any questions – because you need to re-build trust in them (if you can)
Then you need a willingness from both partners to begin the repair
You both need to make improvements to the way you regulate conflict within the relationship through learning how to communicate more clearly
Both of you need to learn to identify and manage stressors that creep into the relationship
You both need to commit learning how to turn towards each other rather than away
You need to rediscover the friendship that once existed.
From here on, it will be important that significant others in your life are positive towards you as a committed couple. Friends and family that divert your attention away from each other and/or encourage criticism of you or your partner are not ‘friends’ of your partnership.
You started your partnership with hopes and dreams for your future together, it’s now time to re-visit these dreams and how you can as a couple make them come true. This is about honouring each other’s dreams as well as your combined dreams.
Most importantly, it’s alright to put “us” first – in fact it is imperative that you do. Family and friends are not your first priority. Your relationship is.
Furthermore, you are not doing your children any favours by constantly putting them first. The best thing you can do for your children is re-build a happy, strong marriage and from there you will have a much greater chance of raising happy, resilient children.
Remember that committed relationships are a contract of mutual trust, respect, nurturance and protection. Once one of you breaks that contract by having an affair, it can be extraordinarily hard to regain the trust and respect, but it is possible if that is what you want.
Liz Paul is a Psychotherapist at the Lotus Centre specializing in couples and relationship therapy.