Learning that your partner has been unfaithful, sexually or emotionally, feels like a punch in the stomach. Often the first reaction is to kick out the cheating spouse, tell everyone about how “wronged” you have been and see an attorney about a divorce.
Our advice to you … step back, cry, be angry, talk things over with a “safe” person like a therapist, a person in a helping profession … or someone that might be “for” your marriage. Let a little time pass before making any kind of decision.
Many of the couples that we see have actually called the revelation of the affair a “gift” to their marriage. Generally, affairs do not happen in strong marriages, although that can sometimes be the case. Often couples have grown apart because their attention has been turned elsewhere … to work, children, alcohol, activities … or one or the other has not been able to talk out loud about things that bother them. When someone is not allowed … or does not give themselves permission to talk out loud about things that bother them, they can build up walls of anger, hurt and resentment that turn them away from their spouse and toward another person.
After the initial aftermath of the disclosure, and if this is not a relationship where there have been multiple affairs, couples can then look at the issues that brought them to the space in their relationship that “eased the way” for the affair to develop. This “wake-up call” often helps couples then learn how to talk more openly with each other about what they want and need in their relationship, discover ways to handle conflict effectively, turn more to each other and away from other interests, renew their sex life and develop more positivity in their relationship.