I was working with a couple dealing with the fall out from an affair.
The injured party had understandably embraced the ‘Victim’ role.
And the perpetrator was in the ‘Bad Guy’ role.
This is natural, understandable, and totally acceptable when the revelation of an affair is experienced.
But it’s not a place from which repair of the relationship can occur.
The revelation of an affair is a traumatic event.
The revelation shatters the assumptions of the injured party. Destroys everything they thought they knew about their relationship, their partner, and the role they played in their partner’s life.
And the injured party needs what all trauma victims need:
- Understanding of what happened – Making sense of what’s happened is how you stitch back together the torn fabric of your reality
- To tell their story – The story of what was happening before the revelation, the story of the revelation, and the emotional retelling of their experience after the revelation. And they often need to tell these stories many times
- Social support – This is especially difficult when the person you normally turn to in times of trauma (your partner) is the one who’s caused the trauma.
- Specific action – For those recovering from the revelation of an affair, they need specific action to rebuild trust, to rebuild primacy, and to feel special again.
This isn’t an easy journey and in the spirit of transparency, I’m the first to say not all relationships can (or should) be saved.
But eventually, if both partners do the work, there comes a point – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly – where the injured party realises they have a part to play if the relationship is to not only survive the affair, but to come out of it even stronger.
They realise they need to acknowledge the efforts their partner is making to rebuild the relationship. You can’t keep them in the ‘Dog House’ or expect them to haul themselves over 2000 degrees burning hot coals forever.
They realise they have to accept the little things their partner is doing to try and rebuild trust.
They realise they have to stop dwelling on the past and move their focus to this day.
They realise the repair of the relationship won’t happen if they don’t give it the means to happen.
…Vitally they realise they both need to do the work if the relationship is going to last.
This realisation, this shift in focus for the injured party is essential for recovering from an affair.
If you’d like help rebuilding your relationship after the revelation of an affair…
…See my couples counselling page.