Getting over an Affair
THERE is very little that compares to the crushing of one’s heart and dreams than the discovery that your once faithful partner is or has been having an affair. Even if it is an emotional relationship with another person.
Just when you thought that the state of your marriage could not get any worse or lower than this point, you make a second discovery that your partner is now lying to you about the details of their affair.
Having preciously drawn some comfort from their apparent genuine disclosure only to later discover that they were simply saying lie upon lie supposedly in a desperate attempt to minimize the damage.
They do this whilst looking straight into your eyes and speaking with absolute conviction that they have disclosed all of the information about their affair.
Then after the disclosure their silence and what they don’t say can be just as soul destroying because you can experience their silence as another form of deceit. This feels like rubbing salt into open wounds that have not yet had a chance to heal.
The constant thoughts are “How can a marriage recover?”
“Can we ever love again?”
We have seen many couples navigate their way through the minefield of surviving an affair and the answer is yes, a marriage can come back from this heart crushing experience, and yes, you can find love again with your partner.
I still don’t want to lose our marriage
Even though you feel like the state of the marriage is beyond repair, strangely it is not the automatic deal-breaker that you had throughout your life proclaimed that it would be.
It could be safely stated that all people in a marriage have said to their partner at some point that “if you ever cheat on me, then we’re over, no if’s or but’s.” Yet here you find yourself in a personal struggle with that old belief.
What should you do?
In our marriage counselling service, we discuss with couples who are seeking our guidance, that if you have a significant history together, and if you have children together, then apply yourselves to working on your marriage.
You don’t have to be beholden to a statement once said a long time ago. Do not be compelled to act according to the opinions of others, such as family or even close friends.
I want to know why..
It can sometimes be difficult to work out why people have affairs, particularly in a marriage that is essentially good. There are many pre-disposing factors that lead to affairs occurring, such as a marriage that is either sexually and/or emotionally distant, or a marriage that has chronic conflict.
Sometimes however, an affair can occur in a good marriage, for example, opportunities for affairs occur in people’s workplace particularly where a lot of travel and time away from home is required, intense work environments such as hospitals or in struggling businesses.
Couples come to see us at our marriage counselling service in a severely distressed state with their worlds completely shattered. Even at this point, which seems odds with the severity of the actions, this does not necessarily mean that divorce is inevitable.
Through marriage counselling, couples have a safe environment for them to put all the difficult details on the table, about the affair as well as other problems within their marriage. Marriage counselling provides the couple with far a better opportunity to achieve open and honest communication and expression of feelings than trying to work it out at home.
We have seen many couples heal from affairs, and an outcome that many may find surprising, the marriage becomes far more honest on every level. Intimacy and closeness increases and each person’s life is enhanced.
To achieve this positive outcome, each person needs to be committed to the journey together, they must only speak the truth, no matter how upsetting and unsettling. They must learn how to actively protect the marriage going forward, to restore trust, and to support each other’s healing process.
You each have your own journey to go on. Both will experience deep pain in different ways for different reasons, but you will feel empathy for each other.
For the partner who had the affair, it is important to never tell your partner “it was a mistake, it won’t happen again, so just get over it.” It’s a very damaging and ultimately destructive comment.
Instead, it is far more respectful to make yourself available and to be very present in that moment to hear your partner express their pain to you, and for you to receive it with an undefended heart.
Also, for the partner who had the affair, you must be proactive in communicating with your partner, don’t wait until the betrayed partner brings it all up again. Take the first steps in opening up the conversations. This lets your partner know that you are taking everything seriously and that you are continuing to think about the impact of affair on your marriage.
We stress here that you must not leave your partner alone to carry the pain by themselves, indeed, you have to learn how to hold and simply be with your partner’s pain. This is a very tough and complex situation, and one where you absolutely need professional marriage counselling to ensure that your marriage survives.
If you are the betrayed partner, consider marriage counselling before taking the steps towards divorce, and even before you consider forgiving your partner.
You can give the betraying partner to chance to earn back your trust, and to attend to all the problems previously experienced in the marriage.
Marriage counselling may be slow, challenging and arduous if not painful, simply put… it is hard work for you both. But if you still have some deeply buried love for each other and you are committed to the journey to healing together, then your marriage and your family is well worth your effort.