You can’t believe it’s happening.
The cold stark realisation that your partner is having an affair can punch you in the face as quick and as hard and as realistic as if Anthony Joshua was right in front of you. The shock, the panic, the disbelief and upset that this happened to your relationship can cause a trauma that you didn’t believe was possible in your world.
Yet it’s happening.
Then almost immediately you think “who knows?”……….
With lightning speed, you mentally flick back through, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues and family trying to work out who knows your husband (I’m using husband in this blog post, but obviously can just as easily be wife) has been having an affair.
In a YouGov survey carried out in 2015, a shocking 1 in 5 adults in the UK admitted to having an affair, whilst 1 in 3 people have thought about having one. Plus, of those people who admitted having an affair, only half admitted to stopping it and 20% of them admitted to having more than 3 or more affairs! The report went into detail as to what people think constitute an affair (only 17% had slept with someone else interestingly), how men are slightly more likely than women to cheat and who the affair was with (43% with a friend, 38% with work colleague, 18% with a stranger??, 12% with an ex, 8% with a neighbour and 3% with their partner’s relative).
I covered in a former blog post: Is Your Partner Cheating? How you can find out if your partner is cheating and also what you can do if he is. But in this blog post, I would like to focus on how you can both recover from the aftermath of an affair because the fact is, an affair does not mean the end of a relationship, in fact for some relationships it’s been the catalyst to a far better marriage.
I’ve given you 8 tips below, so you can try to work through the recovery by yourselves:
Tip 1 – End It
Obvious point, but you can’t attempt to heal your relationship until the affair has been ended properly. If you’re the innocent party, you need to be satisfied the relationship has been ended properly otherwise you may always have doubts. One of the most impactful way to do this is for you to accompany your partner whilst he ends the affair face to face OR for you as the innocent party, dictate to your husband how he needs to end the affair. Within reason, he should be willing to do what you need.
Tip 2 – Reasons To Stay Together
The road to recovery can be long and bumpy so both of you need to be honest with each other, do you want to salvage your relationship? If you do why? Is it because of your kids? Financial? Or do you genuinely want to stay with each other because you love each other? Be ruthlessly honest, you may have different reasons for wanting to stay in the relationship, but it’s vital for transparency now, the other person has a right to know the exact reason you want to stay with them? Is it a good enough reason for you?
Tip 3 – Why? Who?
It’s going to be upsetting, but the innocent party has the right to know why you strayed? Plus, why with this particular person? Again, full transparency is needed. Was it because she gave you attention and flattery? Was she easy to be around? Did you simply find her attractive? Don’t sugar coat this step because the innocent party will know when you’re holding back facts. Give her full disclosure so she can come to her own conclusions.
Tip 4 – Lessons Learnt
Sounds like a school, but it’s invaluable none the less. In a “safe place” where you agree not to fight and argue, try and come to a consensus as to where things went wrong? What were the triggers? When did the relationship start to crumble? Before you have this conversation, both of you separately write down or think about the reasons you think caused the problems and then sit together and allow the other to talk uninterrupted for as long as they need to go through their points and vice versa.
Tip 5 – Ground Rules
Again, separately think about how can take the relationship forward, what are the absolute DO’s and the absolute DO NOTS…… Then come together again and draw up a written charter and commit to how you both intend to move forward in the relationship. Both of you should be willing to do this, regardless of how laborious it sounds.
Tip 6 – Kids
I’m in no way to qualified to talk about the minefield of what’s right to do where children are concerned when an affair has happened. But what I do know is that their wants and needs have to considered and the impact on them obviously must be kept to a minimum. Try to not argue around them or where they can hear you. If difficult conversations need to be had then try and have them away from your children. If you feel yourselves starting to argue in front of them, try to stop and continue the discussion at another time. I know, I know, easier said than done, but try to be as disciplined around this as you can
Tip 7 – Friends & Family
Your relationship is personal between you and your husband so be careful about the opinions and advice given from friends and relatives. I definitely advise you consult with those people you trust and get their advice as to what they would do, but I don’t advise discussing your situation with everyone and anyone. It will confuse you.
If friends or family volunteer advice without you asking for it, then politely tell them that you will ask them when you need it.
Conversely, if you do ask for advice, then be prepared to listen to it. These are people you trust remember, it’s a good idea to be open to what they have to tell you.
Tip 8 – Professional Guidance
I consistently advocate professional help for a reason: you will get professional help! If after the aftermath of an affair you can’t think straight and you’re confused as to what to do, then try to gather some funds somehow and seek the help of a professional therapist. They are trained to help you in these situations, there is no need to struggle on your own. OR, go and see your GP who will be able to refer you for Talking Therapies which is provided by the NHS.
As I said at the beginning, the statistics prove that affairs are commonplace, so if you are unfortunate and find yourself in the middle of one, then don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. You’re not alone. Quite often when faced with infidelity, the shock alone has the ability to derail even the strongest person. I’m going to end this blog post by saying that an affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship and can in some instance mark the beginning of a new even better one.
So, don’t fret. After the shock, you will find your feet and you will be ok. But don’t be afraid to ask for help.
ps. I’ve written this blog post on back of Clients who have come to me following an affair and I’ve included the tips that they have found have helped them. If you’re facing the aftermath of an affair and now feel mentally ready to look forward, then Coaching may be just the thing for you.
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