The outcome of your partner’s affair may depend on the nature of your relationship – a non-committed dating arrangement or a long term monogamous marriage – and how the affair was disclosed or discovered. Did your partner confess or were you snooping into his/her privacy. Was this an ongoing romance or a onetime event? That’s not to say that, no matter what the circumstances, almost any person might be angry, hurt, shocked or any other array of miserable emotions to find out that a loved one would do such a thing “to you”.
Let’s look at that first notion: you feel that a person you considered trustworthy did something to betray you. My guess would be that way more times than not, say 95 out of 100, the other person had no intention of hurting you. Hard as it might be to face the fact, she or he probably wasn’t thinking of you at all. Circumstances arose, an opportunity was presented, and she or he took it.
So once you accept the fact that such an action as your partner having an emotional or sexual connection with a person other than you has far more to say about their ability to withstand temptation than it does about their attraction to you or the depth of your relationship, you might begin to look at what happened as having to do with them and not being about you at all.
Why did it happen? The only one who might be able to answer that question is your partner. You’re much more likely to get some honest answers if you ask questions with the intent of learning something about your partner and your relationship with him or her than as an accusation. Approach the question with the view that you want to understand what part you may have played in the reasons for the affair and how to avoid this happening again in the future.
Many individuals surprised by the revelation of a partner’s affair insist on answers to a barrage of questions: who, when, where, exactly how many names and in exactly what ways. Think first whether you really need or want to know this. What purpose can such information serve beyond inflicting more hurt and drawing painful pictures in your mind’s eye?
Some questions you might well ask are: Is the affair over or still ongoing? That’s an important question for you to know in order to make some important decisions. So is how might your own behavior have contributed to your partner’s behavior. Is there something your partner needs from you that you have not provided? Is this something that can change? Do the two of you need to discuss making some alterations in how you relate to one another such as fewer work hours or opening the relationship?
Every relationship is as different from others as any two people are from other people. Don’t make the mistake of acting too quickly or on the basis of beliefs that may not be true. Having had an affair does not mean that the relationship is necessarily over or that it will (or will not) happen again. Circumstances do change. Some relationships really are strengthened by such adversity or by the honest discussions that follow.
In brief then,
Don’t act in haste. Take time to think what you need to know and what you want to do about whatever you learn.
If the two of you decide to try to repair your relationship what do you need to know first? What do each of you need to promise the other and what “checks and balances” do you have to ensure that you are sticking to your agreement?
Might you benefit from couples counseling?
Are you both clear on any agreement you reach about continuing in a relationship of trust and improved happiness? What are the consequences if trust is broken again and are you both clear on what happens if so?
An affair need not be the end of a good relationship. It can be the beginning of a better one if both of you do your parts to make it so.