If You or Your Spouse Is Having an Affair
To an unsuspecting spouse the discovery of an extramarital affair breaks into one’s consciousness like a car crash. The world that you had previously thought was safe becomes untrustworthy in every way. Nothing can prepare you for the seismic shift that you are feeling when the reality and its implications explode into your awareness.
If you are the spouse having had the affair, you may have sought to keep this information hidden. Suddenly when the information emerges, you feel like your world of cards has been demolished. You feel guilt and shame. You want to blame your partner for a bad marriage. You feel like you want to run and hide. Yet, you may also know that you love your partner that you want to rebuild the marriage.
Most couples, when confronted by the reality of the extramarital affair, have serious doubts about the viability of the marriage. Infidelity can seem unforgivable. For some it may signal the end. But for many couples, there’s a serious yearning to rebuild a different relationship but they fear this cannot be done. Some feel that they must give it their best shot, even if it’s only for the kids. Someone asked by a friend if she was going to leave her husband who had an affair. She replied, “I feel like I should but I still love him.”
Of the couples who seek and stick with marriage counseling after an extramarital affair,70% of them do recover. Naturally after an affair many couples divorce fairly quickly. But when the person committing infidelity wants to seek help and the partner wants to struggle to forgive, they have a very high chance of finding healing.
Some would even say that they would never have wanted this to be the catalyst, but their relationship with the help of counseling has grown far beyond their expectations. They will acknowledge that the extramarital affair, after all of the disruption and pain, has demanded that they relate with a new honesty and openness never experienced before..
One thing becomes clear: the bond between you will never be the same. Couples do not have to know in advance whether they can create a new relationship. Couples coming to therapy need only come with the sincere intention to do some research to see if a new bond can be built that is secure and meaningful.
With therapy you can gain new skills and tools for relating. You can learn to reduce conflict and resolve problems. You can learn to de-escalate a fight until
Other Resources on the Web
you both can brainstorm creatively about finding a win-win solution. You can come to feel compassion for the other’s hurt.
By Dr, Jim Walkup
“The Impact of an Extramarital Affair on the Children:” From the New York Times
“Infidelity:” Statement from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists