How to Cope After an Infidelity
Learn how your relationship can pass even the toughest test.
When someone you love betrays your trust, it can feel like an insurmountable hurdle.
At Life Vision Counselling we believe that it's possible for your relationship to survive infidelity.
Here are some tips to help you now:
1. Practice gratitude.
No matter what happened in your marriage, returning to gratitude will set the groundwork for positive transformation.
If you feel consumed by betrayal and despair, take a moment to focus on appreciation. Think about everything you appreciate about your mate.
After a few minutes of refocusing in this way, notice what changes inside you.
2. Fully face your feelings.
When you are hurt, you may tend to blame, run, fight, judge or explain.
If you can, stop and fully feel the heartache tenderly, you will be surprised at what is possible.
When you step fully into the sensation in your heart, beyond thought and explanation, the feeling begins to shift.
3. Clarify your purpose.
When you are hurting, you may tend to think about the problem.
Recycling the problem can escalate the pain.
Try and focus on the solution you seek, what it is you want for your future and for your family.
4. Develop a deeper level of emotional intimacy in the relationship.
Infidelity is almost never about sex, but instead is usually about intimacy and unmet needs.
To recover or heal a relationship following infidelity, you must learn how to become more emotionally intimate and work on spending time together, communicating and sharing your lives together.
This does mean that you have to take a risk and be vulnerable to give your partner a chance to draw close to you.
5. Do things together.
Couples that spend time together and have shared interests recover from infidelity much more quickly and effectively.
Think about the things that you used to do together that you both enjoyed and try to bring them back into your life.
There are many inexpensive activities that you can do together that do not cost money, such as:
Walking in the park, at the beach, along a river or lake;
Taking a picnic lunch;
Going for a drive along an ocean road or through a state forest.
6. Form a picture of the past and also your future.
One of the ways that couples can heal from infidelity is to think back to when they first met or got married.
How did you fall in love?
Why did you get married?
What did the relationship look like back then?
Now, think about the future you wanted together. What does that look like?
Enjoying your golden years of retirement;
Spending time at your favourite holiday location;
playing with the grandchildren;
enjoying family functions and activities.
By developing a picture and sharing this with your partner, can help you create intimacy and reconnect.
7. Normalize your feelings.
You may be really angry at your partner, but you're also experiencing painful thoughts about yourself.
You wonder who you are and what you meant to your partner, or if you did anything to cause this, possibly doubting your attractiveness or self-worth.
Remember that you are both responsible for how this infidelity happened, it's not all your fault, nor is it all your partner's fault.
It's okay to be angry and it's important to express that anger effectively and productively. Learning better strategies and integrating new ways to communicate will make all the difference to your relationship.
8. Ask about the things you need to know.
How long did this relationship last?
Was it physical/sexual?
What was the extent of the lies that were told in order to conceal it?
How much money was spent?
Is there a risk of an STD?
Is there a risk of a pregnancy?
9. Don't ask about the details you don't need to know.
You may have the urge to push to learn all the details of the sexual encounters, or ask your partner to compare you to the person they had the affair with.
This behaviour forces you to continue focusing on the affair partner. It is really unproductive and painful. It will keep you trapped and feeling bitter and resentful and will prevent you from being able to moving forward.
Keep the focus on your relationship and continue working on what you can change to make it better.
10. Postpone final decisions.
It might take a long time to figure out what led to this crisis and where to go from here.
Your first impulse is probably not the wisest.
Try to postpone major decisions until you can think more clearly.
11. Ride the initial shock wave.
Allow yourself to experience the shock, pain, fear and grief.
Wait for this initial phase to pass before you attempt to figure out what to do in response to your new reality.
Impulsive, angry actions are more likely to make a bad situation even worse.
As a couple, look back at what happened. At Life Vision Counselling we help you to identify each step down the path to the infidelity.
We use this to help you develop strategies to keep your relationship safe in the future.
13. Launch a better-than-ever relationship.
At Life Vision Counselling we help you identify the weak areas in your relationship and then develop strategies to strengthen them for future happiness together.
The stronger your skills for talking together about sensitive issues are, the less likely you will be to drift apart, or to let anger rifts lead to bitterness, resentment or fights.
14. Take turns listening even when it hurts.
Make time for each of you to just listen to the other. The speaker should speak briefly and let the listener paraphrase what he or she heard. Often, the listener will hear only part of what is said. Repeat what was missed, and check before going on to the next point.
15. Tell the truth, as completely as you can.
The unfaithful spouse can share the thoughts and feelings that led to the choices that were made.
Doing this helps you both understand the underlying problems you face.
The affected spouse can also acknowledge his or her contribution to creating the circumstances that led to the infidelity.
16. Grief and loss.
Even if you choose to stay together, something has been lost: your innocent belief that you would be true to each other and all that implied.
Work together now to create a better, different and more connected, supporting and genuinely authentic relationship.
Grieving helps you give up your past dreams to make room for your future goals.
17. Recommit yourself to the relationship.
Healing together is difficult, if not impossible, when one person has their foot out the door.
If you want to stay together, act like you mean it.
The betrayed partner feels hurt, angry and emotional.
The partner who strayed needs to validate their partner's feelings as being real by saying things like, "I'm sorry I hurt you. I really messed up."
The emotional ripple effects from an infidelity can take a long time to heal.
18. Seek professional help.
At Life Vision Counselling we specialise in rebuilding relationships, even after an infidelity.
There is a reason why the infidelity happened and you both need help to:
understand the underlying unmet needs; and
how to heal from the breach in the relationship; and
how to rebuilt trust to enable you to move forward together as a couple; and
build a more mutually satisfying relationship that is stronger and more resilient than the one you had before.
19. Build trust.
You can do this by having your actions match up with your words. If you say, "I love you," back it up with loving actions.
If you say, "I want our marriage to work," stop all contact with the affair partner.
There is nothing worse for your partner than to find out you are not being honest.
20. Get out of denial.
The person who committed infidelity has to openly admit their wrong doings. Be truthful, honest and willing to cooperate with everything your mate requests from you.
Decide to fight for your family and be willing to do whatever is necessary to save your marriage. This is crucial in trying to rebuild the trust that has been so badly broken.
21. Get help.
Each partner must commit to both couple and individual counselling.
At our counselling practice, we work in very practical ways to help you heal and restore your marriage.
We work with values education; communication skills; conflict management resolution techniques; trust building techniques and we engage you to redefine your relationship needs and wants so that you can have a relationship that is better than ever before.
22. Start fresh.
Forgive one another and allow each other time to heal. Let go of old thoughts, behaviors and triggers. Replace them with commitment, honour and faith in your marriage.
Seek to engage friends or couples whose relationships have extended for a long period of time and can share what makes their marriage work successfully.