The First Thing To Do: Go To A Couple's Therapist.
Yes, I am biased about this since I am a couple's therapist. But I've
seen so many people come to me years after an affair and the wounds are
still raw. The couple once thought they had put the affair behind them,
but they really had not. Either the betrayed partner never really got
over it, or the person who had the affair never
really let go of the
passion, attraction or dreams evoked by the affair.
So, do it right. Get some help. You're too close to the problem to see
For The Person Who Feels Betrayed:
Your reactions may range from wanting to get the person back at your
side at any cost, to kicking him or her out at the least provocation.
And, you may cycle from one to the other throughout the recovery
You can figure on at least a year
to really get over most of it. It is
a grief process. You've had dreams crushed and trust shattered. It will
take a long time. You need a resource network besides your partner.
That means friends, family, minister, counselor. Grief is sadness, and
often depression and anger mixed in. You need to hear repeatedly that
your partner is sorry and really means it.
Your biggest problem is that your
is going to believe that the two of you should just put it all behind
you and get on with life. He or she will think that what happened
really didn't matter that much, that relationship with you is what
really matters, and now it is recognized. Your partner will want to
just move on. You are not going to be able to do that. That's why
you're going to need the help of that therapist.
For The Person Who Had The Affair:
You may think you know what your partner is going through, but you
don't. You will typically get over the affair fairly quickly and expect
your partner to do the same. It doesn't work this way.
If you're going to be successful you're going to have to learn
"I'm sorry" on a daily basis, ad nauseum, for at least a
year. It will
be very trying for you because you just won't get it. You won't get how
wounded your partner is, and how long the recovery is going to take.
You won't want to take full responsibility for how much harm you've
created. You're going to feel like it is all about beating up on and
But you're going to have to learn to live with it all. It is called the
consequences of your behavior. None of us like this very much. It is
difficult. But it is the real deal. To be successful in this recovery
you're going to have to shoulder the responsibility and really become a
"big" person.What a challenge you face!
Trust is merely my ability to predict your future behavior based on my
observation of your past behavior. After an affair, trust has been
ruined. Everything is brought into question. The partner who strayed
needs to have the willingness to have all behavior now be totally
The only way to re-establish trust is to build up another large
resevoir of past behavior that is trustworthy. The person who strayed
always believes that trust should be re-established much more quickly
than is actually possible.