In my previous blog, Can we have an affair-proof relationship?, I argued the vulnerability of all relationships to infidelity. This blog shall focus on the life of the relationship when infidelity happens.
Betrayal hurts deep and some affairs do bring a relationship, which was already dying, to an end. However, the majority of couples who go through an affair, recover and heal. Infidelity can actually jolt a relationship into new possibilities and a new era into the life of the couple.
When an affair is exposed, the emotions are raw. Never ever make any decisions when emotions are at this state. There is a lot to be processed, expressed, explained and questioned. Allow the time and the space for whatever needs to be said, to be said. If you can do this in the privacy of your own home, then do it. If you need professional, psychological help, do not be afraid to reach out.
The person causing the betrayal need to express the guilt and the remorse for hurting the other partner. Doing so with a trusted friend might help. The injured party, on the other hand, needs to bring back the sense of self-worth that is often shattered with being betrayed. Being surrounded by people who provide love and nurture is essential. Be careful about involving too many people, though, because you do not want Tom, Dick and Harry giving their opinion and possibly taking sides with one party or the other, causing more confusion and chaos.
Exposure of infidelity shakes the status quo. Never underestimate what emotional instability can do to your physical health. Your sleeping and eating patterns may get disrupted, and you may find yourself feeling more anxious than you ever felt before. Go gentle with yourself and do whatever it takes to take care of your physical well-being.
A common occurrence with infidelity is the need for interrogative questioning. The injured party wants to know the sordid details, as painful as this will inevitably be. Curb your curiosity and try to shift the interrogation to investigation. So rather than asking questions, such as, “When did it happen? How often? Where? How?” ask, “What did this mean to you? What could you express there that you could not express with me? What do you value about us?” Such questioning can open up conversations which are deep and meaningful. It can, and often does, lead to a re-definition of the relationship.
Be committed to heal from the infidelity. It is this commitment which will provide the courage to be open and honest, the strength to listen and understand and the determination to shift what could potentially have been life-threatening to the relationship into a renewed and life-giving phase of the couple life.
Stephanie Caruana is a counsellor at Willingness. She offers counselling services to adolescents and adults experiencing some form of distress. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.