An affair can be defined as a sexual, romantic, or emotional relationship that violates an exclusive relationship with your partner. From a one night stand sexual affair based on lust and impulse, to a series of in-person dates or even online interactions to emotional affairs an affair is a rupture in the couple unit.
Emotional and online affairs may seem morally justified by the offending partner as there may not be any sexual or physical intimacy. Online relationships have less defined boundaries of what would constitute an affair making them harder to recognize. The offending partner may identify the other person as a “special friend” where they bonded through shared common interests or perspectives in a unique way. This could make the betrayed partner seem jealous or not understanding. Neither emotional nor online affairs should be minimized, as they are often interactions on a path to a sexual affair.
Confronting the consequences of an affair can be painful, difficult, and shameful. It’s normal to feel completely hopeless, devastated, and lost. Some couples may feel certain that the relationship has ended, others may be willing to move forward but are not exactly sure how to do so. Couples have many questions such as: How can talking about the affair be helpful? How will I know if the affair is really over? How could my spouse do this to me? How long will it take for our relationship to go back to normal? Will my partner ever stop feeling triggered and asking me questions? Is it okay to talk to family and friends about what happened? What are friends and family going to think if I stay?
An affair can bring light to areas of the relationship that may have been damaged or unhealthy. Most of the time it is not until something is breached that the couple has no other option than to look at these already existing issues in the relationship. This can allow couples to discover what is missing or unfulfilling in the relationship and foster the path of transformation. Rebuilding trust is a key factor after an affair, therefore, seeking couples therapy rather than individual therapy can facilitate healing and trust-building for both. Additionally, it is important to understand that neither the other partner nor the problems experienced in the relationship were the cause of the affair. It is important to identify those “holes” and work on them.
How do we start?
My role in your recovery in building a “new” relationship is to provide you with a safe, structured, and thorough process to help you move forward. This structure is customized for each couple but usually consists of the following stages:
Crisis Management to help manage strong emotions and identify boundaries for safety.
Recommitment through transparency and addressing ambivalence.
Reinventing which includes understanding what happened, how it happened, and deciphering the meaning of such affair. As well as, establishing healthy communication patterns, accountability, and establishing trust-building evidence.
Healing with intention that leads to forgiveness, honesty, and transformation.
Throughout this process, you will develop a detailed road map about the nature of forgiveness, realistic strategies for working through the pain, concrete steps to rebuild trust, and ways to reconnect emotionally and physically.
Please remember that the decision to separate or work things out is one of the most impactful decisions you will ever make. Before taking this step, reach out and get qualified professional help. You and your family deserve it.