Written by Malyka Cardwell, MFT
Originally posted on Philadelphia MFT.
You’ve cheated on your partner and now the truth is out. Whether it was one wild night or an ongoing affair, the damage has been done. Now that your secret has been revealed, you may be feeling surges of regret, sadness, guilt, remorse, or in some cases relief. Your partner is likely devastated and cycling through his or her own set of emotions. This is a chaotic time. The foundation of your relationship has been shattered and it is now up to you and your mate to decide whether to rebuild or leave it in shambles. If you both decide to work it out, here are some tips to help you get through this juncture:
1. Cut all possible ties. You cannot reconcile your relationship if you are still interacting with the person you had the affair with. If you cannot cut out all ties due to professional reasons or children, then at least limit communication.
2. Listen to your partner. Be prepared to withstand the pain and venting that inevitably will come. Learn when to give space and learn when to lean in. Figure out what your partner needs from you. Know that those needs will likely change often. Be patient.
3. Be accountable and honest with yourself. What made you susceptible to infidelity? Look at what factors led you to that point and also what you need to do to avoid being tempted again. Avoid playing the blame game. Your partner’s attitude may have made your relationship difficult but it cannot be used as an excuse for the infidelity. Own up to your wrongdoing in order to make any sort of progress. Pointing the finger only does more damage.
4. Recognize things won’t ever be exactly the same. It is very common to want your relationship to go back to normal after an affair happens. The only problem is the normal that you used to know is gone. Things have changed but this is not necessarily a bad thing. You and your partner have the ability to create a stronger relationship. Take this time to discuss what you both need from each other moving forward. Also discuss the issues in your relationship that may have pushed you both apart.
5. Be realistic about your relationship expectations. Accept the fact that healing may take longer than you anticipated. Healing after infidelity has been committed will not happen overnight. Do not rush the process. Progress will feel like a roller coaster ride with all the high and low points. You may think that things should be moving faster but you have no control over the timing it takes to forgive and truly move on.
Moving on after an affair is a difficult process that is best handled with the help of an objective third party. The therapists here at Philadelphia MFT are skilled in helping couples work through issues pertaining to infidelity.