Affair recovery is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, relationship problem to overcome. Affairs hurt your relationship, your self-esteem, your pride, your ego, your basic sense of self and what you know to be true.
Affairs can be traumatic.
So, if an affair is a grenade in the relationship, how do you recover from that?
Well first, I recommend working with a professional. I believe couples counseling or marriage counseling is the most effective treatment for affair recovery. Sure, there are books and self-help articles that can be helpful. But a couples or marriage counselor can be objective and address all the underlying issues. See my previous post for couples counseling after infidelity. Affairs are incredibly hard on the relationship, and a professional is recommended to navigate this terrain.
Affair recovery may also include addressing addictions. It is important to address the affair as one piece of the puzzle, not the whole thing.
If the affair was one part, what are the other pieces that need attention too?
Addiction is defined as “continued use despite negative consequences.” If there is a history of cheating, then we may need to talk about sex addiction. If there is a history of alcohol abuse, we may need to talk about alcoholism. Authentic affair recovery needs to identify and address any underlying addictions.
Affair recovery involves accepting that your old relationship is dead.
Of course, you and your partner are both still alive and still together. But you are different, and they are different. The trust is different.
The old relationship is dead, and if you stay together, it has to be a completely new relationship starting between the two of you.
Grieve that, process that, and accept that. The new relationship has to be completely re-structured and rebuilt from the ground up. Part of affair recovery is saying goodbye to the old relationship, saying goodbye to what you thought your life was going to look like, and saying goodbye to your previous expectations.
Affair recovery may involve individual counseling. The partner that cheated may need to work individually with a counselor to figure out why they cheated. Your partner may need to address low self-esteem, insecurities, any possible addictions, need for attention, need for external validation, etc.
Your partner cheating on you may have nothing to do with you.
The partner that was cheated on may need individual counseling if they are having trouble forgiving their partner. Forgiveness is huge. True forgiveness does not involve you continuing to bring up the affair. Some people can truly forgive their partners, and some people simply cannot. An individual counselor can help clarify this for you.
Affair recovery is absolutely possible, and it will take time, energy, effort, and motivation from BOTH partners.
Email me at Shelly@FriendswoodMarriageCounseling.com if you would like to get started on affair recovery. My office is located in Friendswood, but I serve clients from Pearland, Webster, Clear Lake, Seabrook and surrounding areas.