“Can our Relationship Survive an Affair?”

survive an affairSaving your relationship

First, we are so sorry if you need to read this page. The discovery of an affair is a crisis for many couples. Our Denver Tech Center Couples Therapy specialists can help you heal yourself and your relationship. Ready to get started? We use an easy online scheduler:  Schedule Appointment  Or, keep reading to hear more about the path to hope.

You may feel devastated and question the core of your relationship:

  • How did this happen?
  • Will our relationship survive?
  • How do we repair and prevent this from ever happening again?
  • Will he/she ever trust me again? Will I ever stop hurting like this?

But, there’s good reason to have hope. According to research, an affair doesn’t have to end your relationship. As long as the affair is completely over, and you’re both willing to work hard, you can survive an affair.

In fact, repairing from an affair can also be an opportunity to rebuild a stronger, more deeply connected relationship than the one you had before. We would love to help your relationship heal from an affair. 

Here are the crucial Do’s & Don’ts for couples healing from affairs.

Survive an affair, Greenwood Village Couples CounselorDo’s and Don’ts if you were the partner who had the affair:

DO:

  • Break off all contact with the affair partner immediately, if possible.
  • Listen to your hurting partner.
  • Expect your partner’s need to fully understand what happened.
  • Try to understand their perspective and appreciate the damage caused.
  • Allow yourself to be moved by their pain, & show them those feelings.
  • Be open to questions. Give general details, including feelings and state of mind during affair.
  • Expect recurring fear in your partner, even when you’re being honest now.
  • Take responsibility, without getting defensive.
  • Sincerely apologize and express remorse or regret.
  • Ask your partner how you can bring healing and reassurance.

DON’T:

  • Pull away.
  • Justify your actions or blame your partner for what happened.
  • Hide anything else – further dishonesty will cause massive damage.
  • Expect one conversation or apology to fix everything. We’re talking marathon, not a sprint here!
  • Pressure your partner to “move on,” “look forward,” or “get over it.” Your pressure or expectations will set off alarm bells all over again.
  • Become impatient. Be consistently open to their recurring fears. They will need repetitive reassurance.
  • Wait to get counseling.

 

Do’s and Don’ts for the partner who was hurt (injured partner)…

DO:

  • Treat yourself gently & patiently. You will have lots of feelings & it will take a while to heal.
  • Aim to stay as calm as possible when expressing feelings. Rage and loud anger make things more difficult.
  • Listen to your partner’s perspective.
  • Allow yourself to feel all your feelings.
  • Ask questions that will help healing and trust rebuilding.
  • Think carefully about what details you may not want to know. Some details may be haunting or re-traumatizing.
  • Be patient, knowing forgiveness is a process, not a one-time act.
  • Expect your partner to struggle sometimes with this process. It’s hard work for both of you.

DON’T:

  • Believe Hollywood’s story that you won’t make it. Research shows most couples repair if they work at it.
  • Rush or make any big decisions right away.
  • Don’t hold your feelings in, as they will often get stronger.
  • Wait to get some counseling support.
  • Retaliate or seek revenge.
  • Pull away.

Why does an affair hurt so much?

There’s a reason you feel so awful.

It’s probably no surprise to you that infidelity is considered a significant threat to romantic relationships.  It is normal to be very emotional, lose sleep, not feel like eating, struggle at work, etc.

Brain research shows that emotions like rejection and abandonment are processed in the same way as physical pain. That’s right:  affairs literally hurt!

You’re in crisis, for now. Though it may be hard to believe if you’re reeling from an affair, you won’t always be in this awful place.

How does counseling help couples heal from an affair?

Healing is possible. Your relationship may actually end up stronger than before the affair.

Relationships need secure attachment to be healthy and happy. Having secure attachment means you know you are important to your partner. You know you can depend on them when you need them. You also know they will love and protect you.

An affair threatens this security and creates lots of fear and instability. Counseling will help you regain your secure attachment with your partner. 

Recovering from an affair can be a bumpy ride. One or both of you may shift (sometimes quickly) between anger, sadness, anxiety and depression or despair. These rapidly changing emotions confuse both of you, and it’s hard to know where to start healing.

The first step for your relationship to survive an affair is to de-escalate

Because you’re in crisis, you will instinctively go into emergency response mode. Couples can get stuck trying to understand, repair and feel better all at once and as quickly as possible.

While it makes perfect sense to jump into recovery rapidly, recovery doesn’t happen when you’re escalated and triggering each other constantly.

A good recovery involves slowing down the process enough so you can:

  • Openly discussing the affair
  • Understand what happened
  • Learn to recognize the feelings that arise
  • Share your feelings non-aggressively so you can hear and respond to each other

With the couples counseling specialists here at Thrive, you’ll get help slowing things down, working through your feelings, and beginning to heal.

You deserve to get support from a Couples Counselor

Because it is hard to work through these intense emotions and protective/defensive instincts, most couples need help to repair from an affair.

In the therapist’s office, repair conversations are much safer and more productive.

There are two important things that need to be addressed in repair conversations.

  1. You will need to learn to share and heal the feelings that are coming up now. You will both likely experience feelings of anger and frustration about the affair and the recovery process. Your therapist will help you share those feelings non-aggressively so you can build understanding.

Most couples also need help sharing more vulnerable emotions such a hurt, loneliness, sadness, and fear.

The tricky part is, it’s really scary for hurting partners to share those feelings sometimes.

But, if they can be shared and your partner can respond to you, it begins the process of healing. The injured partner feels heard, understood and supported.

  1. You will also need to go back together to understand what was happening that led to the affair. No one wants an affair pattern to repeat.

Yes, your relationship can survive an affair.

If you have been through an affair with your partner, take heart. You can heal together and even improve your relationship with the right kind of help.

Here at Thrive, we will help you replace the secrets and disconnection in your relationship with closeness, security and happiness.

You may even find that recovering from an affair can be an opportunity to create a new relationship with each other, one where you both get your needs met.

Call us today at 303-513-8975 to learn more if your relationship has suffered an affair. Or, you can schedule with us online now.

Schedule Appointment

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About the Author

Denver Tech Center Counselors specializing in Couples Therapy, Marriage Counseling, Pre-Marital Counseling, and Individual Therapy for Relationship Issues.

2 Comments

  1. Lou Says :

    Posted on February 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    How can i forward this “can our relationship survive an affair” to my wifes email?? Thanks

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