First, remember that legal proceedings don’t resolve the emotional issues. It is important to focus on your pain and anger rather than on attacking your spouse. Make sure to leave the children out of the argument; forcing them to be involved or using them to inflict pain on your partner can cause emotional injuries that will follow your children for the rest of their lives! Forget the temptation to separate immediately, as this will only complicate your options. Avoid making any major decisions during the middle of this crisis! Give yourself time to work on your emotions and the relationship. This is going to take longer than you expected.
You need to express your pain and your spouse needs to hear it! Don’t let your spouse try to shut off your pain by a quick I love you, I am sorry, get over it , or you have said it several times already. Talking things out over and over again. Getting over the obsession with the affair requires expressing your pain, anger, powerlessness, and lack of trust now. Say, I am furious at you!, I am angry at you for lying to me; I am so hurt that you have done this; I don’t know what to do. Nothing I do makes any difference right now. As you reclaim the parts of yourself, you will be able to let go of the obsession. If you give in and stop talking, you will have little of yourself left!
Trust Rebuilding Requires Developing Skills of Intimacy. This requires honesty, becoming emotionally vulnerable, developing reasonable expectations, or mean that you have to constantly be with your spouse. Expect this building to have its ups and downs, letting go of your magical expectations of a perfect future together, and working on making realistic future dreams together. This happens once the affair is revealed, is ended, when you both continue to like and care about each other, you are both committed to working on yourself and the marriage, admit that it will be painful, take longer than you want, offers no guarantees of how it will come out, and has a focus on knowing how each of you created an opening for the affair.
Rebuilding requires Risk. You have to be willing to risk with the understanding that you have a better chance of building a better relationship now and in the future than you had in the past. See the affair as a symptom that neither of you were dealing with the issues of the relationship.
Understand Your Part and How You Contributed to the Behaviors. You can blame the other person as much as you want. However, until you come to understand why the situation happened in your lives, how you allow it to continue, and how you don’t allow the other person to grow, nothing will change. This does not mean that the person who had the affair is without blame. Each person, though, has to examine how what they do, or don’t do, contributes to the problems in the relationship.
Understand that Some Marriages Cannot Be Saved. Any successful relationship requires that two people be willing to work on it. When one continues to resist changing, or wants to leave no matter what, there is little that the other can do. What you can do is to say I am sorry that you don’t want to work on things, to find real solutions, and to change your life. I am a good person and deserve to have you relate better to me. If you don’t want to do that and insist on continuing the same behaviors, then I have to move on with my life. I am a good person and deserve better. This will be hard; I will grieve and feel sad; I will be angry and hurt, but I will live and get on with my life because I deserve it!
Steps Towards Counseling
It’s important to not let too much time go by before attempting to repair the damage. It doesn’t matter at this point who had the affair. Blame and accusations will only get you so far. What the two of you need now is help in dealing with the fallout of the affair. Accountability, genuine remorse, rebuilding trust, and learning how to reconnect are just some of the initial tools that you will need to master in order to start your recovery. A trained relationship therapist can help.
Photo credit: Pixabay/stevepb