MY PARTNER'S HAD AN AFFAIR. WILL I RECOVER? 

If it’s been revealed that your partner has had an affair and you feel a sense of deep betrayal, you’re not alone. Following the discovery of an affair, we usually go through a tsunami of thoughts and emotions but the thought that often screams the loudest is ‘will I be able to recover?’
 

The sense of betrayal seems insurmountable, the future now as stable as quicksand. Thoughts heave from ‘I need to leave the relationship?’ and ‘he/she doesn’t deserve me but should I go or stay?’ to themes of making him/her pay for metaphorically stabbing you in the heart. The infidelity causing the relationship to endure a severity in feelings it has never had to endure before.
 

Not only do we have to withstand the emotional battering, thoughts about our practical situation also charge in: ‘if I leave we’ll have to split assets and I’ll be left with a pittance’, ‘I can’t afford to leave, where will I go?’, ‘leaving just seems too hard’. The practicality of our circumstances often make decision making more difficult.
 

Prevalence

According to research findings, this is how we view and engage in affairs:

  • In 41% of marriages, one or both parties admitted to infidelity, either physical or emotional

  • 57% of men and 54% of women report to have committed infidelity at some point whilst they were in a relationship

  • 74% of men and 68% of women reported that they would engage in an affair if they knew they would never get caught

  • 36% of affairs germinated in the workplace with a co-worker

  • 35% occurred whilst being away on business trips

  • 17% were with a brother or sister in-law

 

Today, the internet has also broadened substantially the accessibility to possible affair partners. Numerous sites, all providing anonymity, also provide a plethora of available candidates and candidates not currently connected to the primary relationship, further increasing the chances that the affair won’t be discovered.

Why do people have affairs?

If you know that your partner has had an affair and you’re asking yourself ‘will you recover?’, more than likely you need answers to other questions in addition.

As a Sex Therapist, the four primary questions I’m asked, associated with affairs are:

  • Why did he/she do it?

  • What did he/she think before, during and after engaging in the sex or during the emotional affair?

  • Will I ever be able to recover?

  • How will I do it? (move forward and emotionally recover)
     

There’s no simple answers to these questions as research reports that people enter affairs for a range of different reasons and sometimes not a single reason but numerous ones combined. Some of the more primary reasons include:

  • A desire for sexual variety

  • They fell in love with another person

  • A sense of entitlement – ‘I deserve to be happy’

  • Issues with intimacy in the primary relationship (mismatched libidos etc)

  • Poor quality of the primary relationship (fighting all the time etc)

  • No longer finding their partner attractive

  • Sexual addiction

 

Unfortunately, sometimes there’s no sound reason at all. The opportunity presents itself and the married participant gives little thought to their actions and follows the path to self and quick gratification. 

Outcomes

Many relationships don’t survive after an affair has been outed. The aggrieved remains devastated and unable to forgive. Conversations about the affair take up a large percentage of the couple’s time together until the betrayer can’t take the questioning any longer demanding… ‘I’ve said I’m sorry enough, why can’t we now move on?’ ‘Can we please stop talking about this and get on with life?’ The incredulous aggrieved remains unable to comprehend why the betrayer cannot understand the gravity of their actions. Neither is unable to move from their positions or to see the perspective of the other.
 

What to do next

Without external intervention, the couple usually remains stuck in their cycle of vicious communication, frustration and anguish however 75% of couples reported they were better of after attending marriage counselling.

 

A professional third party can often introduce new ways of thinking into the dyad. New considerations can be introduced and goals can be established around how the couple can reconcile with the hurt and betrayal. The external environment can provide a safe and controlled place where issues can be brought out into the open and each person feels safe and understood. Through clinical therapy, the couple can learn new ways of being, and the unit is likely to have a greater chance of survival.

 

If you are asking yourself, ‘my partner’s had an affair, will I recover?’, don’t sit too long in the pain, there may be a way for you to gain understanding and heal faster than trying to go it alone.

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