Friday, 15 March 2013

After the affair

Infidelity is when a partner breaks the expectations of exclusivity upheld by the relationship. However, what constitutes 'cheating' varies between cultures and types of relationships and is not necessarily physical. Figures suggest that roughly 30-40% of those in a marriage or a long-term relationship break these expectations at some point, and so is a something many of us will deal with.

Immediately after the affair you are likely to feel hurt, angry and betrayed. It may seem like you'll never get past it, and many may not want to try. However, if you want to continue with the relationship here are some tips that may help get you through.

  • Be prepared! Deciding to stay with your partner is only the first step. Make sure you are both prepared to work hard and fight for the relationship. 
  • Take some time off or get away for a few days. This time and space can give you clarity to figure out what you truly want. 
  • Understand the cause of the affair. Although, there is no excuse for such betrayal, most affairs do have underlying causes such as lack of communication, boredom or lack of intimacy. Understanding what led to the affair can provide a helpful insight into your relationship and where it went wrong. 
  • Do not blame yourself. 
  • Express your anger in positive ways. Seeking revenge on your partner or the person they cheated with is not going to help. Choose healthier ways to express your anger such as exercise. Not only will something like kickboxing help you through your aggression but it will also give your self-esteem a much needed boost. 
  • Spend time together. Use the affair as a wake up call that marriage is a challenge and unless you both work at it, it will fall apart. 
  • Be transparent. The unfaithful partner must be prepared to be transparent about their whereabouts and actions for a while while you rebuild your trust. 
  • Try to put the past behind you. If you have chosen to forgive your partner, then you have to forgive them. Don’t hold it over their head or keep bringing it up during arguments. If you want to move past it, you have to put it behind you. 
  • Seek the help of a relationship counsellor. They are trained to spot problems that may have led to an affair and to help you move past them. 
Surviving an affair is not going to be easy or quick. Following these tips and devoting the time and work required will give your relationship the best chance possible and you may even emerge as a stronger couple.

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