No matter how long you’ve been together, finding out that a spouse or partner has committed infidelity can shake your world like nothing else. In the days, weeks, and even months after such realizations, your level of shock, anger, and grief can be extremely high.
Finding moments of clarity may be difficult, if not impossible. Perhaps the biggest question in all of it is how you will decide to handle the situation. If your partner still wants to stay together, it’s up to you to determine if you want the same thing. Making the decision itself can take some time.
Understand the Betrayal
After infidelity, you may wonder if you can ever trust your partner again. After all, they betrayed one of life’s most significant, most serious commitments. They cheated and lied. They broke their promise to hold your relationship above all others.
There are couples, however, who do find a way through infidelity and come out stronger on the other side. Take time to carefully think about the following factors as you reflect on your relationship.
Remember the Broader Relationship
What is the larger picture of the relationship like? Perhaps it’s been very strained and emotionally painful for years. Maybe you have long felt ignored and neglected. Dysfunctional patterns may have wreaked havoc on your lives as long as you can remember.
What is your partner’s overall emotional health like? What is yours like? Consider, if you stay, will there still be significant emotional problems that need to be addressed from before?
Look for Past Clues
Even if your partner has never gone so far as to have a physical affair before, reflect upon previous behavior with others. Do they have a long history of overly close friendships with other people that made you uncomfortable? Did they dismiss your concerns when you brought them up? If they have a habit of blowing you off, their real commitment may not be as deep as it should be.
Note the Length of the Affair
Was the affair something that went on for years behind your back? Or was it a flash-in-the-pan situation? While it’s still a betrayal, either way, listen to your instincts. Do you think your partner can truly step away from a long-term relationship with someone else?
Spot Genuine Remorse
A person’s level of remorse and regret can be an accurate indicator of future behavior. Does your partner make excuses and try to blame someone else? Hopefully, they take responsibility for their behavior. Anything else is a sign of immaturity.
Other Things to Consider
Sometimes, the betrayed partner needs to think strategically. Start by asking yourself what you have to gain or lose by staying. Then, ask what you may gain or lose by leaving. Do you have children together? That factor sometimes adds weight to the decision to try to work things out. Writing these variables down on paper can help.
The need for strategy could be even more critical if you stayed at home to raise kids or are far away from a support network. Make a plan for how you will manage financially and in other practical levels if you do decide to leave.
Infidelity is one of the most significant challenges a couple can face. It is such a complicated, vulnerable situation that seeking a professional’s help is often the very best thing you can do. Whether or not you want to continue your relationship, you’ll need someone with you to help guide you through the choices you need to make. The support of a therapist can make all the difference.
If you’re struggling in the aftermath of an affair, please reach out to our office. We’ve worked with many couples in the same situation and know that hope and healing are possible, no matter which way you decide to go.
We offer couples counseling for one if you are not ready to meet with your partner or spouse. This is especially helpful if you are trying to process your emotions and decipher your next steps. Click here to learn more.
If you are ready to meet with your partner or spouse together we offer couple’s counseling focusing on affair recovery. Click here to learn more.
If you are a Christian couple you may benefit from our CARE program. Click here to learn more.
To call Crossroads Counseling call us at 623-680-3486, text 623-688-5115, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to speak with one of our counselors. We offer a 20 minute complementary phone call. You can ask all the questions you have and see if affair recovery at Crossroads is the right fit for you.