Research shows that the probability of someone having an affair in a relationship is very high (between 40 and 76 percent in one study). With almost half of all relationships involving infidelity, you may be wondering what to do after such an incidence occurs.
First, you have to decide if you are going to tell your partner. If you are, then do it—soon. Coming clean with your infidelity is the starting place for healing.
Next, you and your partner will need to decide if you want to work things out. Often, couples will split up after an affair, but sometimes partners are willing to sort things out. This is where couples counseling can be highly beneficial. With the help of a trained couples counselor, you can get to the bottom of WHY the affair took place to begin with, figure out where your relationship may be headed, and plan for the future.
Third, you and your partner will need to work on the underlying causes of the affair. If there is a lack of communication (which there often is in these cases), you will want to increase the quality of your communication skills with one another. Furthermore, you may need to step up the romance—plan more dates, spend more alone time together, etc. If there are deeper emotional issues, individual therapy for one or both of you may help.
Finally, if there are children involved, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, put them in the middle. If at all possible, limit your conversations regarding your relationship and infidelity to times when the children are asleep, or better yet, outside of the house altogether. Children are keen observers—they can pick up on even the slightest amount of tension, and unlike adults, do not always have the words needed to describe their feelings (which often includes blame, guilt, shame, embarrassment and/or grief). I am not saying that you should portray a phony self—they will be able to sense that as well. What I AM saying is: do not bash your partner to your kids, do not fight in front of them, and do not use them as pawns.
Infidelity is an emotional roller coaster for all involved. If you find yourself in this situation and don’t know what to do, consult a therapist who can help you figure things out.