Can your relationship survive an affair?
Finding out that your spouse or lover has been cheating on you can leave you feeling as if you’ve been punched in the stomach in slow motion.
These feelings are quickly followed by anger and often a desire for revenge. Frankly, it feels like you have been kicked in the teeth.
Things to remember
- For any relationship to survive this betrayal, the injured party needs to be given time to mourn and grieve and to deal with and express anger.
- Try and find out what this relationship was about for your partner. If either partner has felt neglected or emotionally or sexually unrecognised, it may help to understand what was going on for them at the time of the affair. This does not excuse their behaviour, but gives you some insight into why it happened.
- Both parties have to share the responsibility of rebuilding the relationship. And this includes ceasing to see or communicate with any third parties. Unless this happens, all your efforts are in vain.
- Although it may not feel that way, it does make a big difference whether this is the first time or not. If it is the third or fourth time, your partner cheats on you, you should seriously take a look at what you are still doing in this relationship, as your commitment is obviously not shared by your partner.
- Don’t dwell on details of the affair – they are taking your attention off the real issues and upset you unnecessarily. What they did where and how and when, is something you don’t really need to know. It will only hurt you. Blaming the third party completely is a form of denial. Your partner was also a willing participant in this affair and you should not forget this.
- Talk to your friends about what has happened, but make sure you can trust them. You don’t have to discuss details with all and sundry – if you feel you can’t trust your friends to keep quiet, rather discuss things with a therapist. This might be a good idea anyway.
- Go for help – remember, this is what strong people do. You have been a devastating experience and it might be a good idea to have a neutral third person present to help you sort out things which you have difficulty discussing by yourselves.
- If the children are young, they don’t need to know. It will only upset their sense of security and have little real benefit to them.
- Try to avoid becoming overly suspicious and checking every move your partner makes. Remember that ultimately people want to spend time with people they enjoy being with. If any time you spend together, is spent in harping on your partner’s misdeeds, the other woman or man will look kind and accommodating in comparison. By all means say what you have to say, but do it once and get it over with.
- There is always the possibility that you might feel sufficiently hurt and devastated that you feel unable to resume the relationship and decide to pull out. There is also the possibility that your partner may decide to leave. These are painful and life changing events. Lean on your support structures and remember that it is possible that your partner simply did not deserve to have you.