Recovery from Infidelity
Jan 30, 2018 01:00AM
Discovery or confession of an affair is a heartbreaking experience. Your whole world seems to be coming apart, and suddenly your life feels like a cruel joke. It is often viewed as the end of a relationship, but this need not be the case. With the right guidance, many relationships that seem hopeless can be revived and become strong. The following steps are necessary, and can be accomplished with appropriate professional guidance.
Step 1. Awareness: Coming to terms with the situation
Review the current state of your relationship, including your status, the position of each partner, the current interaction between the partners, the role of the third party, the threats to the relationship and options being considered. Reconstruct a timeline and a narrative of the relationship history, and determine the strengths and weaknesses in the relationship.
Step 2. Assessment: How did we get to this place?
This phase explores the issues leading up to the current situation, or that are recurrent within the relationship and the reasons for the current situation. Assess the life vision and relationship vision of each partner and compare to each other’s and to the current situation. Determine the needs being fulfilled through the extramarital relationship.
Step 3. Possibilities: What now?
Once there is awareness and assessment of the situation, consider options for the future of the relationship. At this time there is no decision to be made. Explore what each option would look like, and what impacts there would be to not only the parties involved, but also others who interact with them. There are no “rules” for this phase, and it is a very dynamic time when support is critical. Do not determine any expectations, as it is important for each partner to use this time to sort out their feelings and figure out what they want for the future.
If it is decided to try to recover the relationship, continue on to Step 4.
Step 4. Repair and Restore: Where to start and what to do
To repair a relationship scarred by infidelity, several steps need to occur. The first and most important of these is to be completely open about what has happened in the affair. This is beneficial for several reasons, including restoration of trust, and reconciling past comings and goings or lies. Additionally, anger, hurt, and suspicion will be forthcoming and must be endured.
Step 5. Healing: Building trust and a new vision
Once the relationship is reestablished, it will take time for safety and trust to rebuild. The affair does not get forgotten, and it will be some time before it recedes from a prominent position. It should be used to inform and establish a relationship that satisfies the needs of each partner, and as a reminder of circumstances that create the possibility of an affair. It is a good idea to consciously plan how to keep their relationship alive and satisfying, and how to keep communicating closely.
Step 6. Give it Time
The process discussed here can take several months. That does not mean that things are suddenly okay. It will probably take a couple of years to completely recover. Luckily, you have gotten through the hard part, and you know how to manage the future.
Rhoda Ondov, MS, MFT, CPC, is a Certified Professional Coach, with a background in Marriage and Family Therapy and advanced training in couples counseling. She has been helping couples and families to repair and strengthen their relationships for over 10 years. She is an authorized leader of the Weiner-Davis’ divorce-busting program Keeping Love Alive. For more information, call 908-642-6256 or visit OndovRelationshipCoaching.com.