Discovering your spouse has had an affair can be devastating. Many couples don’t survive after an affair. The added stress, the emotional response, and the strain on the relationship can be too much for many couples to bear. Learning how to respond to the affair and deal with emotions is a determining factor in whether or not a relationship can survive. Allowing yourself to grieve what you’ve lost is an important part of moving forward.
Healing from an affair requires you to acknowledge what you’ve lost. Once you acknowledge what you’ve lost you can begin to grieve. Grief is the process by which people can start to heal.
Relationships Require Trust
Your relationship will never be exactly the same again. It’s likely you have lost your sense of confidence in your relationship. You may question whether or not your relationship was what you once thought it was. Perhaps you begin to question your love for your spouse and your spouse’s love for you. Acknowledging that you’ve lost these sorts of things is a first step.
Trust is something else that you’ll likely feel like you’ve lost. Perhaps you never really questioned your spouse’s whereabouts in the past. Now you may question it all the time. Perhaps you are always wondering if your spouse is telling you the truth.
It’s important to remember that trust isn’t all or nothing. There are degrees of trust. This is true in any relationship. You may trust someone with a secret but perhaps not your money. Or you may trust someone will return something they borrowed but not trust them to watch your children or your pets.
Engage In Self-Reflection
Examine what specific ways you have lost trust in your partner. Do you no longer trust your partner is telling the truth about certain things? Do you trust your partner around other men or women? Do you still trust your partner to be a good parent or can still handle the finances?
There are also degrees of trust. You may trust that your partner will manage the money well with about a 90% confidence rating. However, you may only trust your partner is where he says he is with about a 30% confidence rating. Take a look at how your trust levels have changed since the affair.
There may be other things that you feel you’ve lost as well. Perhaps you feel like you’ve lost a good friend. You might feel like you had a great friendship with your spouse and this might seem like it isn’t the case anymore. You may have actually lost some real friends too. Perhaps it was a friend who had the affair with your spouse.
Allow Yourself To Grieve
You may also feel like you’ve lost some of your peace of mind. It’s likely that at times you envision your spouse having the affair. The thoughts can be very anxiety-provoking, disturbing and troublesome. It can be a terrible thing to imagine and deal with.
Once you acknowledge what you’ve lost, it’s important to allow yourself to grieve. Don’t make any immediate decisions about whether to stay or leave. Instead, acknowledge that the grieving process is going to take some time.
In order to grieve, your spouse is going to need to cooperate. You can’t grieve what you’ve lost if your spouse refuses to take responsibility for the affair. Your spouse will need to acknowledge what happened and will need to recognize that you will need to take time to grieve.
Grieving means that you allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions. Just like when people mourn the death of a loved one, you’ll experience shock, denial, anger, sadness and acceptance if you go through all the stages.
Rebuild Your Relationship
As you work through the grief process, you can learn how to rebuild your life and your relationship. For some, it is too painful to go through the process and they can’t tolerate staying in the marriage. However, some couples are able to successfully deal with an affair and can build a strong, loving relationship in the aftermath.
Counseling can be very helpful for couples who are dealing with an affair. The person who was involved in the affair can often benefit from counseling to recognize what led to the affair and to learn who to rebuild trust. The other spouse can often benefit from counseling to help deal with the grief and to develop a response to the affair. Couples counseling is often beneficial as well as a couple tries to rebuild their marriage.