Given the devastating effects of an affair, it’s hard to believe healing infidelity is possible. A couple coping with adultery will find themselves in a whirlwind of emotions.
The deceived partner will likely experience a mixed bag of emotions-anger, depression, shock, worry, anxiety and betrayal, to name just a few, and question the future of their relationship and its value. Cheating spouses frequently feel guilt, remorse and shame and may also question the future of their marriage and its value.
Is healing infidelity possible? One key decision you both need to make is not to end your relationship the moment the affair is exposed–particularly if you’re parents.
Your relationship is a cornerstone of your children’s lives. Although you may be hurting beyond words, in a family, the needs of everyone must be considered. So take some time to sort through your pain before you act.
Healing infidelity is not easy, nor will every couple follow the same pattern or succeed. Notes Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, as quoted in Parade, “…there are no quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions-but years of experience has taught me that there are definite patterns to what people in loving relationships do to bring their marriages back from the brink of disaster.”
The first step is to find a way to deal with that whirlwind of emotions. You might need help to do this, whether from a counselor, a pastor or a friend or family member.
Both partners must be 100% committed to figuring out why the affair happened and what you can mutually do to ensure it never happens again. A couple needs to openly and honestly pinpoint the circumstances that led to the affair. That process often adds even more pain to the mix because it means examining what might be have been lacking in your own relationship, such as sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy or a feeling of being taken for granted. But it’s a necessary step to moving forward.
Trust can only be rebuilt over time, and this process takes two people who are very committed to healing infidelity. Once you’ve both “talked out” the affair and your own relationship needs, you can move towards partnership again by spending time together but not talking about the affair. Try to put that part of the pain behind you and focus on discussions and activities that unite you. If you find that you're really struggling to come to terms with the infidelity, a consultation with a mental health professional could prove very helpful. The infidelity could be treated as a personal trauma, in which case trauma recovery techniques would be used to help the griever heal more rapidly.
Finally, two factors can help reestablish your relationship. First, the person who cheated must be genuinely, obviously remorseful. Second, their spouse must be genuinely ready to forgive. If anger continues to burn, the memory of the affair will sabotage your attempts to heal infidelity.
To repeat, a consultation with a mental health provider could open doors to your relationship that appear to be closed, and help you find new solutions to deal with the infidelity and assist in your rebuilding process.
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