First off, please know that you are not alone.
There are many reasons why people have affairs and even more reasons why people want to stay in their relationships.
The first step is to stop cheating, and this might sound simple or difficult. Whatever it means for you, a strong, healthy, secure relationship is not possible when there is ongoing infidelity. If you need help figuring out how to do this or which relationship you want to keep, consult with a trained therapist. We can help.
The next step may be one of the most difficult of all, and that is, you must tell the truth. The secrets that we hold in our relationships keep us distant from those that we love. The secret of infidelity, even if the relationship with the affair partner has ended, will never allow you to be as close to your spouse as you could be.
Many partners that cheated on their spouse have tried to stop the affair and fix their relationship all alone. To do this is an almost impossible task for one individual to take on by themselves. Revealing an affair can plunge a relationship into the most trying times you’ve ever faced. Many couples seek couples counselling at this challenging point.
Another common mistake in attempting to save a relationship is to only reveal part of the affair, the bare minimum or a “safe” amount of information. The best action that one could take is to make sure that, when disclosing an affair, you are sincere and willing to disclose requested details.
Imagine the discovery of an affair like a nasty rash: it really hurts. It is painful, and this horrific wound is there for the entire world to see. The unfaithful partner often thinks that they’re protecting their spouse by not giving them all the details, but what happens more often than not is that the betrayed partner finds out more information, little by little, and every new detail that they discover feels like another affair.
A client told me once that it was like a wound that had gravel embedded in the skin and every time he found out more information, it was like his partner was embedding more gravel in the wound. Every time more information was revealed, the injury was exposed to more hurt, and all trust was lost again. For the sake of your partner and the relationship, it is best to get all of the pain and gravel out of the wound so that it can heal and heal properly.
Another difficult task for an unfaithful partner is to accept responsibility, and this can be hard for many reasons, including facing any guilt you may feel and see the effects of your actions. On the surface, the unfaithful partner can say, “well, I only had an affair because she didn’t love me or because I was tired of being rejected or because [of any number of reasons or excuses].”
Ultimately, it was the unfaithful partner’s choice to have an affair. That choice is yours and yours alone. That, of course, doesn’t mean that you need to suffer and bear the burden forever. If you decide to stay in the relationship, support and love can eventually be established again. That support can also come from a qualified professional. You don’t have to go through this alone.
The betrayed partner is going to go through a myriad of emotions. There are going to be days when they know that they love you, and they want the relationship to work. There are going to be days where they hate you and are disgusted with you, and they can’t believe they’re standing by you through this. Through all of this, you will need to be patient with them while also caring for your self. You will need to allow them to have the space they need to process everything that is going on. They will require you to not get defensive about your actions or place blame on them, and this is hard. Incredibly hard.
It is okay to take a timeout during a heated argument where one or both of you it is overwhelmed. It is good to wait until some of the emotions have subsided and you are in a place to make sure that you will both be able to say things you need to say without mentioning the things you’ll regret.
Your partner likely does not trust you in any way, shape, or form at the moment. So it is essential for you to be patient while they heal and to do your part to rebuild trust.
Trust is not something your partner can give; it’s something you have to earn. Depending upon many factors, it can take up to a couple of years for an affair to heal. Again, this isn’t something that happens, and it happens because of how you both work on it. Moreover, it’s worth putting the time and energy into helping the hurt of the affair heal for the relationship to progress on solid ground. Please, if you would like support at this most difficult time, call my office to set up an appointment.