AN AFFAIR TO FORGET
You have met the one you love and the first years have been bliss. You have felt validated by being loved and you have extended your love to your partner. Then one day the world changes and you find out they had sex with someone else. You now feel crushed under the fallen debris of deceit and betrayal. How do your survive this shattering discovery and can you still maintain the relationship?
SURVIVING FIRST THOUGHTS
The first reaction is from your mind and it is telling you to walk away, sell any joint property, be on your own and lick your wounds. If you search deeper however your heart might say you still love them and want to talk more about what happened. There is also the physical side of your relationship that has a voice. Your mutual friends, family ties, the dog, the house and a sense of companionship that is still there. Are you really prepared to throw it all away as an act of revenge?
Maybe it is time to discuss what happened taking a helicopter view rather than a purely emotional one. Maybe you haven’t been communicating lately, maybe you haven’t had sex for ages and no one has been brave enough to talk about it (the brain gets very lazy and de sexes our partners over time) and maybe there are unshared secrets that stopped honest intimacy.
There are many choices when infidelity occurs. It can be seen as unforgiveble or as acceptance this was a wake up call. When was the last time the question of, “How are we going do you think?” is asked of the partner. Such a question allows the other to open up emotionally and really talk. Having an honest and open discussion can re-unite a couple by sharing deeper thoughts and vulnerabilities. In doing so secrets that keep couples apart can be revealed and a greater sense of closeness achieved.
MORE TIME TOGETHER?
Maybe you need to: review the whole structure of your relationship like changing work demands so you can spend more time together, plan dates with each other, have weekends away with just the two of you (and the dog), talk about ways to get back in the boat, or the bath, and have sex together (once you get it started the rest will follow) and make time for dreams to aim for (a vegetable patch, travel, spar bath, a dog, new house, etc).
Also over time couples develop a different idea of assumed values and attitudes. It is a good idea to see if you and your partner have similar values and attitudes. Are you on the same page today? False assumptions are easily made in long-term interactions. I have developed a values and attitudes survey for couple and if you email me I will send you it to you for free.
Discovering an infidelity can be heart breaking but there are things a couple can do to move on in the relationship by honest discussion and taking a helicopter view of why it happened. And then plan a future where greater intimacy and closeness can be worked on. Please do try to repair your relationship, as it is harder than you think to find another. Maybe you will both grow through this affair. Take care.
Gerry North is a couple and general counsellor treating depression, anxiety, self-esteem building, and addictions.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.counsellingworkslondon.uk