Does an affair have to mean the end of your relationship?
Your first thought might be ‘of course’! He or she cheated on me and I could not imagine being with them again. They betrayed me, they snuck behind my back and had sex with another person while we were married! They were my life, best friend and we exchanged vows to be husband and wife.
How could they do that to me?
While working with couples at the Trinity Relationship Center, I have found that those who have been cheated on go through 3 phases on the road to a potential recovery from the affair.
1. ‘Discovering the Affair’
Here is where the grieving process begins. Resentment, anger, disbelief, sadness, loneliness and confusion are very natural initial feelings after an affair. You are grieving the potential end of your marriage or relationship. This is the person you turned to in the past for support and now they are no longer there. This phase is when all those first emotions and feelings come to the forefront of the cheated spouse. Is it officially over? Who was it? Do I know them? How long has it been going on?
The cheated partner might even want to make a quick decision about the future of the relationship. There are a lot of mixed emotions and the cheated partner wants to express them. The cheated wants the cheater to listen and hear then out. A lot of strong words will probably be spoken during this phase.
2. ‘Give me the details’
This phase is where the cheated usually wants the cheater to come clean, completely clean. The cheated decides what he or she wants to know about the affair, from how it began to how they were able to find time to see each other to the secret places they spent together. This phase will help both of you experience empathy for each other.
Understanding the affair and how it happened will help the couple get a clearer picture about what led to this point in their lives together. This means they both need to explore the meaning of the affair. During this second phase of affair recovery, the cheated may begin to wonder whether they are responsible for the affair.
This is not about assigning blame, but a time to analyze the affair and the history of your marriage or relationship. Once you understand what might have brought the affair on, it can give you both hope for the future of your relationship.
3. ‘Hope for a New Future’
This is the last phase of recovering from an affair. It is about reconnecting, rebuilding and restoring that relationship back into what it once was. At the Trinity Relationship Center, we use a Solution Focused Brief Therapy approach. We look for positive aspects of your relationship while accomplishing your best hopes for therapy. We will discuss your problems, but we will also talk about building solutions that you most desire in your relationship.
I will not get into too much detail, but I did want to explain a little bit about the uniqueness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy or SFBT.
When people go to therapy, they typically will only discuss problems. Reliving sad moments from your past might even be painful for you. The SFBT approach concentrates on solutions and what changes need to be made to accomplish your therapy goals in the most effective and efficient way possible
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, my main specialty is working with relationships.
I am a Specialist, not a Generalist like many others in the Mental Health field.
Lastly, I just want to express my love for working with couples! My hope with any couple is to help them get to where they want to be in their relationship.