You just found out your partner has been having an affair. You feel hurt, betrayed, angry and several other emotions that you can’t necessarily process at the moment. You don’t want to end the relationship, but you’re not sure where to begin to heal from this. I always recommend that couples seek professional guidance as soon as an affair comes to light to avoid further damage to the relationship. Below are some general guidelines I use with couples to begin the healing process from an affair.
DO: Communicate with your partner if your needs have changed in light of the affair. If you need to sleep in a separate room for a while or need to cancel your weekly date night for the time being that is okay; however, if your partner isn’t aware that your needs have changed, they may unknowingly cross your boundaries and make you more upset.
DON’T: Intentionally punish your partner for their infidelity by restricting love, shaming them, giving them the silent treatment, putting them down, etc. It is understandable that you are upset and may not be able to engage with your partner the same way throughout the healing process. However, punishing them for the affair will only isolate them and will not improve your relationship or your feelings.
DO: Be willing to work with your partner on underlying issues in your relationship. This does not mean you have any blame in the actual affair, but you should be willing to own up to and work on additional issues that may come up about the functioning of your relationship outside of the affair.
DON’T: Ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answer to. Some people need to hear details about their partner’s affair to feel secure. Others may feel worse if they know the details. Ask your partner to not divulge anything that you do not specifically ask for.
DO: Express any feelings you may have appropriately as they come up. Do not be afraid to express anger, hurt etc to your partner for their actions, but also be mindful of respecting them as an individual as you do so.
DON’T: Expect your relationship to go back to the way it was. Your relationship will change in light of an affair (hopefully for the better), so you do need to take the time to grieve the relationship that you had with your partner in order to move forward.
Negotiating your relationship with your partner after an affair can be painful and time intensive. Remember to be patient with your partner and yourself as you undergo this process.