Whether you’re the person betrayed or the betrayer, the emotional damage from an affair runs deep. Something pure has died, and the mourning process is lengthy. Physically, you may gain or lose weight, have trouble sleeping or become highly susceptible to illness when learning about the affair of their spouse. Many partners want a quick fix and a lifetime guarantee. But there are no quick fixes or guarantees when it comes to matters of the heart. Some relationships can survive an extramarital affair and others don’t. So what can you do to improve the odds?
In the beginning, you’ll grieve the loss of your old, pure relationship. Accept your feelings and process them. Give yourself time to heal and express your anger, resentment, pain and sorrow. Realize that your spouse is going through intense feelings, as well. Take care of your own feelings and try to listen to your partner without judgment. Expressing your emotions, whether good or bad, will keep communication lines strong. If both partners are willing and committed to saving the marriage, you can move past this.
If you’ve had the affair, try to stop associating with the man or woman with which you had extramarital relations. You may feel conflicted or torn between two loves. Work on forgiving yourself and your imperfections. What’s done is done and cannot be changed. You might feel that your emotions are secondary to the betrayed, though equally intense. But it’s important to experience and work through your feelings of devastation, guilt, regret and grief.
One of the largest consequences of an affair is the loss of trust. The betrayed spouse may feel insecure and suspicious for a long time. He or she may have painful flashbacks or question their spouse’s actions and motives. The betrayer will need to be patient and offer continual reassurance, as long as this may take.
A therapist can help both parties understand the flurry of emotion and guide both parties through each grieving and recovery stage. Both partners should commit to individual and couple’s counseling sessions. Marriage therapy can offer hope and expose secrets that need to be dealt with. It can also offer the foundation for rebuilding trust.
Whether one’s marriage can be saved or not depends largely on the willingness and commitment of both parties to work through their emotions and move forward. Recovery from an affair is never a guarantee. But oftentimes adverse situations can make the relationship stronger and closer if you’re willing to grow from the experience.
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