The discovery of an affair rocks a relationship to its core. It doesn’t matter if a couple has only been married for a few months or if they are celebrating their fifteenth year, the hurt is still there. Couples frequently come to our relationship experts asking if their relationship will ever heal after an affair. It often comes as quite a surprise that the pain can linger for a long time after the initial shock. To help you understand the importance of working through each stage of recovery, here are four reasons why it takes patience to rebuild your relationship after an affair.
Affairs Represent a Loss
It is normal to feel a sense of grief after you find out about an affair because you will never look at your relationship the same way again. In fact, recovering from an affair involves stages that are very similar to the ones you experience after a loss. Couples therapists find that it helps if you appreciate that you will likely experience shock, denial, anger and even the desire to try to bargain to make things the same again. For some people, the loss of trust is so profound that they grieve just as hard as they would if they lost their partner. Getting over a loss takes time, so it is important for both partners in your relationship to understand that compassion and patience are critical for easing each stage of grief.
The Pain Can Come and Go
The aftermath of an affair is like an emotional rollercoaster that leaves both people reeling. During this time, it is normal to feel perfectly fine one day only to feel like the world is crashing down again the next morning. At times, you may even find yourself forgetting about the affair, or you may not be able to stop obsessing about it. Either way, relationship counseling for couples helps you understand that feeling upset again doesn’t represent a regression. Instead, it simply means that you are learning to process another detail as you continue to move forward.
The Underlying Causes Must Be Addressed
People often look at an affair as the biggest problem a relationship can experience. However, infidelity typically is a sign that there are other issues that must be addressed, and the affair can make those problems even worse. For example, a couple that has struggled with sexual incompatibility may find that intimacy issues in relationships increase the amount of time it takes to get things back to normal. Alternatively, a partner may have started an affair to deal with unfulfilled emotional needs, and learning to rely upon their partner for support is going to require them to find a marriage counselor who can help them work through those issues.
Trust Takes Time To Rebuild
Regaining trust in a relationship requires both time and patience because this process involves a series of baby steps in which the partner who has been hurt relies upon their loved one to keep their word. This process looks different for every couple, but the person who has had an affair should strive to stick to be as reliable as possible in their daily activities.
Following an affair, the person who cheated often feels as though they must jump through hoops. It is also normal for either person to complain that it feels as though the healing is taking forever when they are ready to move on with their life. While there is no quick fix, relationship counselors are always there to help you work through the real reasons for the affair so that you can come to a resolution that benefits both you and your partner.