Working through an affair can be one of the hardest challenges for a couple to overcome. Infidelity involves feelings of betrayal, loss, resentment, hurt, and confusion. Whether you are the involved partner in the affair or the uninvolved partner, you may be feeling a combination of difficult and distressing emotions.
In addition to the emotions you are feeling you may be faced with an all-encompassing question of whether you should end the relationship or whether you should try and repair it. This is an important question and it is usually best for the answer to be well considered by both partners in collaboration.
How Do We Make This Decision?
When you are thinking of the future of your relationship after an affair there are a few elements that you can consider to help you make a well informed decision. Initially you may feel that there is no hope for the relationship and the only option you have is to end it. This is not always the case.
Taking a breath and reflecting together on the way forward will help prevent reactive decisions. Reactive decisions may have far reaching consequences. These consequences need to be considered to help make the best decision for the future.
When faced with making the decision whether to stay or go, here are some questions that may help:
Do I Still Want This Relationship To Work?
Both partners need to honestly self-reflect and decide whether they want to rebuild the relationship. A relationship is usually salvageable after an affair if both partners are willing and able to put in a fair amount of work. This work is going to be based on honesty – if you both are invested in trying to mend the rift then there may be hope.
Is The Relationship Worth Saving?
Both partners will need to invest a lot of commitment and effort into the rebuilding process, therefore it can be valuable to ask whether the relationship is a beneficial one that the partners value and want to mend.
You can investigate by looking at shared experiences, shared values, the history of the relationship, whether children are involved, and the common goals shared by the partners. Understanding the relationship on its merits and strengths can help remind the partnership of its value. With this reminder there may be more motivation and reason to work on mending the rift.
Can I Forgive?
Forgiveness is going to be an important element for both partners. The uninvolved partner will need to work on forgiving the involved partner. If forgiveness cannot be found then it is usually very difficult to mend a relationship.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning an action, rather an intentional act of releasing the anger and resentment toward your partner for the affair. This may take some time and should not be rushed. However, if you feel that forgiveness is not something that you will be able to find then you may not be able to mend the relationship securely. A risk of mending a relationship without forgiveness is that the affair will be used as ammunition against your partner during other arguments and conflicts.
The involved partner will also need to forgive themselves. Self-forgiveness is usually helpful for allowing them to move forward in the relationship without the feeling that they should continuously be punished for their actions.
Forgiveness can be a powerful element to rebuilding a relationship after an affair.
We Are Going To Save The Relationship – Now What?
Once you have both made the decision to work on the relationship there are a few things that may assist you on this journey.
Create A Support System
Reaching out for professional assistance could be a good idea. Finding a marriage and family therapist may be helpful. Such a therapist can provide a safe space to explore some important areas. These areas include reasons for the affair, rebuilding trust, learning to forgive, and working through the effects and consequences of the affair.
Having an objective person to hold a safe space for you both can be helpful to facilitate meaningful and productive conversation. Your marriage therapist can also help give you tools to begin rebuilding the trust within the partnership. Rebuilding trust will take time and effort from both partners.
Finding other supportive individuals such as friends and family can also help both partners. Not only is there healing and support needed for the partnership, but for each individual as well. Ensuring that there are people that each partner can talk to and receive support from may further the healing process.
Taking care of one’s own mental health will be important and these support structures can form part of this care. Each partner will usually have a myriad of their own emotions, thoughts, and beliefs to work through. This self-care goes hand in hand with healing as a couple.
Trust is a delicate concept and feeling to rebuild. When you are rebuilding trust after an affair it is important that both individuals are actively engaged in the rebuilding. This may involve transparent communication, setting of boundaries, expressions of expectations, and engaging in emotional and physical intimacies again.
We Have Decided To End It – What Now
Perhaps you both have decided that mending the relationship is not possible. There are a few things that you could keep in mind to assist the process of ending a relationship.
Working With Children
If this relationship involves children, both partners need to be in agreement regarding the dissolution of the relationship. Not speaking poorly about each other to the children and maintaining a consistent routine can help children in this process.
Reaching out for professional help can also support the entire family in navigating this change.
When a relationship ends there is usually the mourning of a loss, along with anger, betrayal, guilt, and/or shame that may be attached. Having a support structure and self-care plan may assist you in the transition.
Dealing with an affair is a tumultuous experience that has the possibility of ending a relationship. However, there is also the possibility that a couple may decide to mend the relationship. Remember that you do not have to go through either process alone. Reach out to make an appointment. We are here to support you.