Can my relationship survive an affair?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
20th August, 20120 Comments
My life was ripped apart. My world was tipped upside down, in confusion disbelief. Betrayal, hurt, heart torn out, our life shattered; all of these have been used in relationship counselling to describe the impact of finding out your partner has been cheating on you.
Can your relationship recover from the betrayal can you come back from the edge or will it all end through separation and divorce? Part of the problem is not just the effect on our relationship but the effect on our belief in a world where there was trust, where there was security and where we thought that we would be treated fairly and respectfully by someone who loved us.
For the majority of us our head understands that couples do survive affairs and infidelity, yet the question from your heart will be can my relationship survive? Difficult though it may seem at the time you have all that pain of finding out, the answer is yes if you both want it to survive.
In a recent survey 65% of couples who recovered after an affair felt that not only was the relationship back on track but it was actually stronger. This is often because either on your own or as part of relationship counselling you have addressed the underlying issues. Ultimately the decision to stay together or split up will be a decision you will both make, however, most experts believe that you should not make that decision in haste or shock but as calmly as you can. Keep in mind most couples who split up express regret, if they have not at least tried to put things back together.
If you want to stay together perhaps one of the first things that needs addressed is the affair. Often the injured party will have questions about what happened as they try to understand what could have gone wrong why they are suffering this terrible hurt. Of course the betrayer should try to respond to these as openly and honestly as possible. It perhaps goes without saying that they should apologise and agree to have no contract with the third party. Its normal to want to punish the betrayer, its normal to ask for reassurance, but its important to realise that you are going to have to move past that phase if you want the relationship to last. Just because you have forgiven does not mean you pretend it never happened.
This phase is very much about talking through the issues and the hurt around the affair. It is likely that it will throw up some of the issues that surround the marriage and are perhaps at the heart of the relationship problems. This leads nicely to the other main thrust of relationship counselling that of focusing on what and how you are going to deal with those problems in the future. The discussion needs to be open and honest because anything else will built your new relationship on shifting sands which are likely to cause problems further down the line.
Although it is perfectly possible to tackle your problems on your own many find that a third neutral party helps by providing a catalyst to communication and hence why so many are going to couples counselling.
Related articles from our experts
- Are there benefits of having an affair?
Gill Sanders: Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor, COSRT: BACP: UKCP:11th October, 2017
- Ghosting: What is it and why does it hurt so much?
Graeme Armstrong MBACP30th September, 2017
- Coping with an affair
Eugene Gallagher BSc (Hons), MBA, MA, MBACP12th June, 2017
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