In my time as a relationship counsellor, there is probably one statement I have heard more than any other around healing from an affair:
“I do not think I can ever get over this”
The most second most common phrase I hear is:
“I do not think I can ever trust again”
The initial shock of infidelity is so painful. It isn’t easy to believe that there is a way back from it. The knowledge that your partner has betrayed you in such a profound way turns the world upside down.
A couple can recover from the affair depending on the bond they have already built and many other factors unique to their situation. It also depends on the exact circumstances and discovery of the affair.
Those couples who want to find a way through will both have to work tremendously hard. But healing can happen.
The process of recovery
Healing can only start with the absolute ending of the affair. The betrayer must cut all ties before the work can begin. Should the affair continue behind the scenes, the relationship is improbable to succeed.
The second step to this recovery process is for the deceiver to move past any defensiveness, guilt, and shame to be present with their partner pain and talk openly and transparently about what happened. Availability to answer all of their partner’s questions is crucial.
There must also be a working towards a shared understanding of what created the conditions of the affair, individually and relationally.
To begin healing, genuine empathy and understanding from the betraying partner towards the pain of the betrayed need to be shared.
Often there is no desire from the betrayed to accept the affair-partners apologies or empathy. Often those who have been betrayed see this as somehow accepting the affair. It takes time but holding back from your partner’s engagement holds back the healing.
The partner who was deceived will need space to explore the myriad of emotions surrounding the affair. Shock, rage, panic, fear, sadness and distrust are often present.
The process of recovery from an affair is complex. But through commitment and hard work, many couples can stay together and develop a stronger bond.
If you have discovered that your partner is having or has had an affair or that you have disclosed a betrayal and would like to seek support, please get in touch with me. I would be pleased to discuss with both of you how I may help relationship recovery with couples counselling. I am offering sessions online and in-person in my office in Hove.