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Life after an affair

An affair is often the result of a damaged relationship, and in its aftermath focusing on working through the issues is an integral part of deciding whether it should be dissolved or repaired. Damage to a relationship causes hurt and often also a sense of loss; if this is too great to bear together, then partners may decide to go their separate ways.

Those who choose to stay together and to work through the issues they have often do so because they recognise the relationship is valuable to them, despite the effects of the affair. The first thing they have to tackle together is what is not working between them – this isn’t always sex as some might think, but something is making at least one partner unhappy enough to look for comfort elsewhere.

If a couple is able to discuss how they were feeling before the affair took place, this can help them to understand why things happened as they did, and to recognise those same feelings should they occur again.
A partner who is able to accept that an affair was likely may still not be able to forgive it, but will be better placed to begin to build up trust again.

Regaining trust will take time and effort, and will include talking about feelings, circumstances and behaviour that may have caused trust to break down in the first place. Telling the truth, acknowledging past lies and apologising with sincerity will also contribute to building a new bridge between partners in a post-affair couple.

Sometimes this is more easily done with outside help, and counselling sessions can enable people to express emotions in a safe non-judgemental environment, whether these involve anger, frustration or grief. If a relationship is, in the end, valuable enough to rescue it is worth investing in the time and the skills to get it right.

Sources:

Brief

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Michele McCulley is an accredited member of the BACP

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