Experiencing infidelity in a relationship can really be one of the more devastating events your relationship will see. It is traumatic for both partners. And, it can result in a lot of pain and feelings of betrayal. An affair does not automatically necessitate the end of the relationship. In fact, many relationships have managed to heal and even come out stronger after one partner has cheated.
Recovering from an affair is a tricky and sensitive process. It requires commitment and motivation by both partners to make the relationship work going forward. The process of healing can be viewed in 3 phases. The first phase is discovering the affair, the second phase is deciding what needs to be done in order for the relationship to heal and the third phase is actually restoring trust and repairing the relationship.
Discovering the affair can be extremely traumatic. It leaves the partner feeling rejected and betrayed. The affair brings into question the relationship itself by shaking the foundation of trust that the relationship was built on. It is normally a very trying time for most couples and is fraught with pain and a sense of loss. It is very useful at this point to speak to someone in a non-judgmental and objective space. A psychologist with a passion for couples or relationship counselling can offer that space to both partners.
Often the feelings are too raw at this point to make any sort of decisions. The discovery stage and process is really just about making sense of what happened, how and why. It is imperative that the couple seek third party counselling to help them work through the feelings during this stage since the cheating partner will likely find it difficult to be supportive of the hurt partner while he/she shares the feelings being experienced.
Psychological counselling will also help the couple move into phase two where they are able to start identifying the problems in the relationship that may have contributed to, or perhaps even made the affair possible. Both partners work towards acknowledging their respective roles and responsibilities in the issues prevalent in the relationship and then identifying ways in which they can work on underlying issues and mend underlying problems. This will naturally transition the couple into the third phase of the process where the couple works at repairing the relationship and trust gets restored.
Seeking help from a qualified psychologist or counsellor is recommended and often necessary throughout this process. It is often very difficult for couples to see their way through their emotions as they can often get caught up in the pain, betrayal and disappointment of the affair. Finding someone objective that can assist both partners in identifying the underlying issues will assist the couple in moving forward and mending problem areas in the relationship that may have contributed to an affair happening in the first place.