Discovering your partner's affair...
Discovering that your partner is having an affair shatters a lifelong dream of love, committment, aspirations and fidelity. You respond with anger, disbelief, confusion, sadness, shame, or numbness. Everyday life dissolves as you struggle to deal with the emotional upheaval and severe disruption caused by your partner's infidelity.
If you have only recently discovered that your husband or wife is either currently having an affair, or has at some time in the past had an affair, then you are likely to be struggling with one of the most traumatic, frightening, and complex experiences that any one person can live through in their life.
The partner who had the affair also finds themselves struggling with a range of feelings such as guilt and remorse about what they have done, as well as coping with the confusion and reality of what they must now take responsibility for and deal with.
An affair or infidelity can shatter fundamental assumptions that a person holds dear in their marriage and life partner.
"I never thought this would happen to us."
From experience at our marriage counselling services, we have found that an affair does not just violate basic agreements and understandings such as not having sex with other people, or reserving romantic love just for each other. An affair calls into question every assumption that you have about your partner and your marriage.
At this point, couples find themselves struggling with ambivalence about their marriage. They attempt to deal with their turmoil of confused thoughts, out of control emotions and behaviour, mood swings, and social pressures from family and friends. This all combines to leave the couple experiencing extreme distress and uncertainty about their future as a couple and/or family.
The identity they once held for themselves as a couple is now severely damaged and possibly changed. Many couples say "I never thought that this would happen to us".
The impact on the 'injured partner' is significant and should not be minimized, downplayed, or ignored.
The injured partner experiences a wide range of feelings such as fear, anger, anxiety, depression, guilt and shame. Marriage counsellors are aware that the devastating impact an affair can have on the injured partner is the same or similar to those people who have suffered severe trauma.
The injured partner can suffer with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) similiar to the impact of
- situations of war
- natural disasters,
- motor vehicle accidents and
- criminal assaults.
Affairs and infidelities have such a devastating impact on the 'injured partner' primarily because your partner (who had the affair) is the one person in the world whom you have invested your heart and soul in. There is an implicit assumption that this one person is supposed to be there for you, to love you totally, to care for you, to respect you, to be truthful at all times, to enrich your life, and to protect you against troubles of life.
When a persons assumptions and beliefs about their life partner and marriage are completely shattered by an affair, the injured partner frequently becomes disorientated, unsure about their direction in life, and their everyday feelings of safety and predictability in their life circumstances are no longer present.
These feelings frequently overwhelm the injured partner as they experience these feelings in a combination and intensity that they have never previously experienced. The injured partner will frequently behave, think and speak in ways that are not typical of themselves. The experience can be summed up with one word - 'miserable'.
Our marriage counsellors have found that when a married couple seek marriage counselling soon after the discovery of an affair or infidelity, the strong negative feelings doing not remain as strong or become entrenched. The emphasis is that your partner's affair results from their deliberate decision to have an affair, and that the affair is not your fault.
Through marriage counselling, the couple can to reclaim their trust, reconnect, their positive beliefs and assumptions in each other, regain their sense of safety, intimacy and togetherness.