So you’ve found yourself in the situation where you have either had an affair or you found out that your partner has had an affair what do you do next? Well that will be entirely up to you. Sometimes people have used affairs as an exit strategy from a unhappy relationship and decide they have to leave the relationship. Others feel that as their trust has been broken so badly from the affair that they can never forgive. In either situation the idea of reconciliation is never even considered. Why do affairs happen in the first place is varied, each one had a reason behind it but can you ever have reconciliation when your partner has had an affair?. Yes is the short answer. But there is no shortcut to success, reconciliation, forgiveness and the rebuilding of the relationship takes time and patience on both sides.
What Reconciliation is not.
- In order to even contemplate reconciliation the affair must be finished completely and the wayward partner should have no contact at all the the other party.
- Unlike forgiveness, reconciliation requires that both partners cooperate and be at least willing to try to reconcile the relationship.
- Don’t try and sweep it under the rug it will only build resentment. Reconciliation requires honest communication from both parties. Recovery takes time and both parties need time to heal.
- Doing Nothing. You need a plan of action to tackle the issues that gave rise to the affair and for you be to be able to move on and rebuild your relationship.
- Get caught up in victim mode. Yes you have been hurt, you’ve had your trust broken You do need time to grieve but if you keep feeding this victim mode you’ll never move on. This is why you need to have a counsellor help you and your partner.
- Blame. It’s about helping each other heal not getting stuck in blaming one another for the issues in the marriage. You need to realise this in order to move on.
- Not Take responsibility. Both parties have to be willing to take responsibility for their part in what has happened.
- Don’t try this on your own. Your relationship needs help, you need help! A counsellor will be in the best position to help you both as individuals and as a couple.
How do you reconcile?
Firstly there are no shortcuts or quick fixes. It takes time to rebuild the relationship, it requires forgiveness firstly, then reconciliation and then you can build your relationship back up again.
- You need a plan of action. As I’ve said already you need to speak with a professional. So picking up the phone and asking for help is your first step. They will help you to eventually formulate a plan of action that can: help you work through the issues in the relationship and help you to prevent your relationship from slipping back into old habits, routines that allowed you to take each other for granted. You need to be able to build on the successes in your relationship which will help sustain that relationship.
- You need patience. This process takes time and you need to rebuild your trust in each other and your level of intimacy again. Patience can be be hard at times as there will be days when either of you will feel like giving up, feel too much pain, have doubts, and need to spend some time just crying. That’s okay a counsellor will help you work through these days and they will pass, you will heal if you are willing to try.
- You need honest communication. Don’t hold stuff in, allow yourself to grieve, get angry and take responsibility for your part in this relationship. Holding in stuff or trying to sweep it under the carpet will only lead to resentments building. They won’t stay buried for long and will not be conducive to a good relationship long term. Building honest communication within any relationship will help it grow in the long term and help rebuild trust and intimacy again between both parties.
- You need to find forgiveness. As I’ve already said in a previous post forgiveness only takes one person, reconciliation takes two. You need to reach a level of forgiveness for your partner, you need to be able to let things go and find happiness and serenity within yourself. Part of this will be rebuilding the trust in the other person. They will have to do their part in helping you do that. For example: So if that involves you at first being able to look through their phone and other devices then that’s what needs to happen. But after a while you will have to let that go and be able to trust that when they are on their phone for example you don’t need to monitor it anymore. (For post on forgiveness see link below)
- Self-improvement. Take time now to work on yourself too. Individual as well as couples counselling is recommended. You both need to work through your internal issues, maybe childhood experiences or other relationships from the past need to be put to bed or maybe it’s something else like self-esteem, confidence etc. Whatever those issues are you need to start to deal with them now and begin to feel happy within yourself again too.
- You need to realise you can’t change the past but you can change now and build for the future as an individual and as a couple. Remember though you can’t change anyone but yourself.
- You can of course – and we all do it – read books/websites on reconciliation or surviving after affairs. But please don’t fall down the rabbit hole. In that I mean if your counsellor recommends something for you to read great go for it, but don’t, I repeat don’t, read one book after another looking for a solution. You need help outside a book for this problem, you will not find it within the pages of a book. You both need to work on this relationship and that takes place in the real world.
I hope you found this post useful if you have any comments or questions please leave them below. I’ll try and answer them for you.
If you need couple or individual counselling we offer these services in our office in Ferns & Wexford Town. Please call 089 4373641 for an appointment.
Blog Post on Forgiveness https://deborahbyrnepsychologyservices.com/2017/05/15/forgiveness/