Coping with an affair may be one of the most difficult journeys that you experience in your life, and in the pain and complexity of it all, you may be wondering if you will heal, or if your relationship will survive.
The truth is that you can heal. You can trust again. You can love again. Your relationship can survive, but recovery is a slow process, and it is never the same for everyone. It will take time and effort from both you and your partner.
How to Move Forward After an Affair
Infidelity can have lasting impacts on you. Coping and grief can change the brain and can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression.
It is crucial to take care of yourself first when moving forward after an affair.
Do not ignore these measures:
Give yourself time and avoid sudden decisions. Process your thoughts and allow yourself time to think.
Partake in self-care. Take care of yourself to ensure you have the health and energy to move forward and heal.
Practice self-compassion. Give yourself some grace. Avoid placing blame on yourself.
Related article: I Just Discovered Infidelity, Now What?: The First Healing Steps
Moving forward with your relationship after infidelity requires working together as a couple with a dedication to forgiveness, commitment, and honest communication.
The cultivation of a healed, strong, and genuine connection requires several necessary steps and strategies. These six steps do not have to happen in any particular order, but each is important:
Allow the space and time to grieve. Grief and sadness are natural feelings after an affair. Grieving is a necessary part of healing.
Openly express feelings of hurt and betrayal. It can be intense, but it is vital to release pain. It is extremely unhealthy to internalize these feelings.
2. APOLOGIES AND FORGIVENESS
Restoration of a relationship cannot happen without forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the heart back up to understanding, empathy, and compassion.
Even if you decide to end your relationship, forgiveness is essential to your mental well-being.
Forgiveness is not an easy process. It requires focusing on the good in life versus holding resentment towards the person that broke your trust and caused heartache.
For the health and restoration of trust in a relationship, the individual who has had an affair must offer a genuine and heartfelt apology that acknowledges responsibility for the hurt and pain that their partner is experiencing.
While it is healthy to have friendships outside of marriage, secrecy is an immense enemy. To heal a relationship after an affair, an entirely new set of healthy boundaries must be set, and transparency must be agreed to.
Today’s technology makes transparency more difficult, but the setting of healthy boundaries (consider sharing online accounts, email, and texts) will help erase any doubt.
Avoid being the detective! It may feel hard to not snoop on a partner that has had an affair but digging through a partner’s personal life to wipe out suspicions that he or she is cheating can be damaging to your own mental health, and it can destroy trust and intimacy in your relationship.
Related article: What to Do If You Suspect Infidelity: Avoid Being the Detective
4. COMMITMENT AND COMMUNICATION
Staying connected with your partner is essential to healing the relationship. It requires commitment and open honest communication. It also requires never taking your partner for granted.
Open communication – getting questions out and answered, is key in repairing dysfunction.
Intentionality is the driving force and quality of our thoughts, beliefs, desires, and hopes, which are directed towards a being or object (i.e., our marriage and partner). Intentionality is the glue that holds the healing of relationships in place.
5. REGAIN TRUST
It is impossible to return to intimacy (the feeling of being close and emotionally connected and supported) in a relationship without trust.
Trust is a product of several actions – forgiveness, transparency, commitment, and open communication.
Trust is also strengthened when both partners acknowledge dysfunction and work together to repair it.
6. INTRINSIC WHOLENESS FOCUS
As acceptance and healing lift the relationship, the bond will once again wrap around each partner’s intrinsic wholeness.
The small things in marriage will matter. Trust and intimacy (both sexual and emotional) form up as you see your partner through the positives – through their intrinsic wholeness, including the values that they live by, their acts of kindness, the way they support you, the way they connect with you, and the way they show affection.
Each of these six steps will help restore your relationship but remember that the healthiest goal is not to try to bring the relationship back as “it once was,” but to cultivate a fresh connection based on a yearning for union and wholeness.
Consider Counseling After an Affair
Therapy helps couples deal with infidelity, and the statistics back this statement up. An abstract published on the NCBI site summarizes results in support of therapy:
“Analyses based on hierarchical linear modeling revealed that infidelity couples were significantly more distressed and reported more depressive symptoms at the start of therapy but continued improving through the end of therapy and to 6 months posttherapy. At the follow-up assessment, infidelity couples were not statistically distinguishable from non-infidelity couples.”
Sometimes you have done all you know how to do and things aren’t getting in better in your relationship, it might be time to reach out for help. No matter how long you have been with your partner, all relationships can benefit from the work that is done in couples counseling.
Couples Counseling can help you and your partner gain the skills and education to develop a deeper connection, nurture, soothe, and help each other, recognize dysfunction, learn to fight fair, and heal your relationship quickly when things get “off track.”
Intensive workshops, such as our Relationship Rescue, are designed for couples that have tried to resolve their issues already – either yourself or in therapy and feel like they are stuck in a cycle of crisis and pain.
In our workshop you and your partner will learn:
How to move forward in the relationship
Clarity around closing the relationship with integrity (if needed)
Relief of symptoms such as constant arguing, passive aggression, “the silent treatment,” and lying
Tools to support each other in your journey
Resolutions in trust issues and infidelity
Clarity of the blind spots in your relationship
Accountability and responsibility to move forward
We invite you to learn more about Relationship Rescue and reach out to us today.