Strategies to get past an affair
About 60-75% (depended on the study) of couples stay together after an infidelity. For about half of those who stay together the affair leaves a deep scar. This often a results in years of hurt and bickering. However, the other half tends to take a good look at what went wrong. After some time of soul searching, they are able to create a relationship that is stronger than it was before. These are usually couples who seek the help of a relationship counsellor.
How to do after the discovery of an affair
1. Find ways to manage and minimize painful emotions (this is the hardest part)
2. Come to understand how the affair come about (this requires honesty)
3. Reach an explicit, well informed decision how to move forward (this may lead to reconciliation or separation)
If couples decide to stay together relationship counselling can help to
- Avoid doing more damage
- Commit to a recovery process
- Understand and make sense of their own and each other’s experiences
- Gain an understanding of why the participating partner got involved with someone else
- Identify vulnerabilities of the relationship and overcome them
The emotional roller coaster
Relationship counselling after an affair is an emotional roller coaster ride. For instance, hurt, betrayal, fear and anger in the betrayed partner; and guilt and shame in the one who had the affair. Consequently, this often lays bare the strengths and weaknesses of both the relationship and each partner. However, most couples who came to see me and decided to stay together reported that their relationship was better after relationship counselling than it was before the infidelity. In most cases there were some problems in the relationship before the affair occurred. During the counselling process couples learn how to address, rather than avoid, these issues and how to manage them more effectively. Sometimes the person who cheated comes by themselves to explore the factors and boundary violations that lead to the affair.
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