Few things may be more hurtful and humiliating than learning that your spouse has had an affair. In fact, the sense of betrayal, anger and sadness that you feel can be downright overwhelming. If these feelings aren’t processed and dealt with appropriately, the healing process will never occur. While some marriages do survive affairs, it’s important to learn to cope with adultery so that the decisions you make about your future aren’t strictly based on your initial reaction and raw emotions.
Slow down your thinking. In the moment, you may feel pressured to react or respond to learning your spouse has had an affair and want to immediately take action, but it’s important to make a rational decision with regard to your next step. Learning about an affair is emotionally traumatizing, and it will take some time for you to be able to think clearly and calculate your next step. If you allow yourself time to make a rational decision, it will be a decision you won’t regret or second guess.
Contact a counselor. Once your brain decompresses and you begin to process what has truly occurred, you’ll want to have someone you can share your feelings with. While it’s great to share your feelings with friends and family, having the objective insight and unbiased listening ear of a marriage and family counselor can help you process your feelings and learn to manage them in a healthy way.
Talk to your spouse. After you’ve had a chance to really process what has happened and you’ve taken the time to examine your feelings and emotions, set up a time to share what you’re feeling with your spouse. Lay some ground rules before you begin the conversation. These may include things like asking your spouse to listen and not talk until you’re done sharing what you need to.
Find the underlying cause of the affair. While you are not to blame for the affair, most affairs occur as a result of underlying issues in the marriage. Examine your marriage and take inventory of yourself and your spouse. Work to correct any underlying issues that may have triggered the affair.
Make a conscious, rational decision. After processing and discussing your feelings and evaluating your marriage, you’ll need to make a calculated decision on how to proceed. You may want to salvage your marriage, or you may want to end it. Marriages can be salvaged after an affair, but you’ll need to make the choice to trust and forgive your spouse and commit to moving forward.
- While it can be tempting to tell everyone what your spouse has done, it can also make things worse. Your friends and family will naturally want to be protective and may take action to punish your spouse for what he has done.