Strategies for a Marriage
to Survive an Affair
Few problems in marriage cause as much heartache and devastation as an extramarital affair. Most couples caught up in an affair state that they have never felt such intense emotions.
Both people in the marriage are likely to experience a range of emotions from intense feelings of
- hurt and
Often both partners will feel that their whole world and future together is suddenly shattered. See Discovering your partners affair
"Both people in the marriage are likely to experience a range of emotions"
Extramarital affairs and infidelities are not easily defined.There are different types and shades of infidelities, and what maybe considered as unacceptable behaviour for some couples may not mean the same for others.
For example, is an emotional relationship, that does not have any sexual interaction with another person outside the marriage, an infidelity? Is a passionate kiss at a party with another person considered an infidelity?
An affair does not have to mean the end of your marriage. With a combination of counselling and a solid committment to the time and effort necessary for each person to manage their feelings, along with clear shared goals, complete honesty and courage, a couple can recover from the consequences of infidelity to renew and reinvigorate their relationship.
The aftermath of an affair is one of the few marital problems where resolution depends on attending to the problems that initially led to the infidelity.
When you first find out.
The initial reaction upon discovery of an affair can create an overwhelming need to end the marriage. Before discovering the affair, most people have the belief that they would immediately end their marriage should their partner ever cheat on them.
Having discovered the infidelity however, and despite being extremely hurt and overwhelmed with a range of negative emotions, couples do not actually want their marriage to end or their family to fall apart.
For a marriage to emerge successfully from the aftermath of an affair, there are some definite steps that need to be taken.
What steps are most helpful.
The consequences and treatment of infidelities are too complex to be dealt with just between yourselves. Professional marriage and relationship counselling from a Psychologist, Social Worker or Family Therapist should be sought early to give the relationship its best opportunity to recover (and to be reinvigorated).
"couples do not actually want their marriage to end or their family to fall apart"
Be mindful when seeking advice and support from friends and family. They are (understandably) likely to be biased which risks an increase in the emotional intensity of your situation
DEVELOP A PLAN TO RENEW & SAFEGUARD THE MARRIAGE :
This can be done together with your relationship counsellor.
The following points should be included in the plan;
First and foremost severing all contact with the 'lover' is critical. This is difficult to achieve in some circumstances, particularly when working together within the same organization. In some situations, at least one person may have to change jobs, and/or even shift states;
Learning strategies to manage the intense emotional responses such as anger, hurt, betrayal, the loss of trust, and shame;
Understanding the reasons of how and why the affair occurred is important;
Develop strategies that address the reasons why the affair occurred so that similar situations do not recur;
Develop strategies to forgive and restore trust within the marriage (however, do not attempt to rush the process of forgiveness and trust building - neither is a simple once only action, it is a process that takes time. It is a process similar to grieving where feelings of sadness, hurt and anger will ebb and flow - only with time and effort will the effects diminish);
Develop guidelines to renew and reinvigorate the marriage.
Through taking these steps, couples will build a stronger and more honest, committed and loving relationship than what they previously had. From what once seemed like an irreparable situation, a new relationship can flourish.
Copyright Humaneed 2013