What exactly is an affair? Many people have different definitions for this word. Some people believe an affair is having a sexual relationship with someone outside of the relationship, others believe becoming emotionally attached to someone else is considered having an affair, while some believe the act of watching pornography could be considered an affair. This is why it is so important to communicate individual expectations with your partner in where healthy boundaries and limits can be established in order to protect your relationship.
If an affair within the relationship does occur, it can be very detrimental to the relationship, as well as to the non-offending partner. However, just because damage has been done, does not mean it cannot be repaired! It won’t happen overnight, but with the guidance and support of a skilled professional, it can be done.
You may be asking yourself, “How?” A licensed therapist will be able to help the couple identify the underlying contributions to the affair. The shared responsibility of these contributions may not be equal; however, addressing each partner’s role in the relationship could provide clues on issues that weakened the relationship prior to the affair. This can help the couple prevent these circumstances in the future. A therapist will also help the couple with improving their communication patterns. They will learn how to “communicate more sensitively, how to listen with more respect, how to talk about sensitive issues without anger or criticism, and how to offer more positivity…” (Heitler, 2011). The most difficult aspects of surviving the affair are forgiveness and trust. Be prepared for the long haul while repairing these pieces. It can, however, be done while working with a therapist through the anger, pain, and fears.
Once the communication gate is open and flowing, and the partners have repaired trust, it may be time to explore restoring the couple’s intimacy. In the beginning, sexual intimacy may be compared to the intimacy that occurred during the affair. The therapist can help the couple come back together in order to achieve more enjoyable and pleasurable intimacy that may have been missing or lacking previously.
With all of this being said, in order for the couple to survive this rainstorm, both partners have to be willing to repair the damages together. This can all be done with the support and help from a professional therapist. Some couples even report developing an even stronger and more intimate relationship after surviving the affair!
Bloom, Charlie & Bloom, Linda. (2010, May 10). Is there (marital) life after an affair? [Web log post] Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stronger-the-broken-places/201005/is-there-marital-life-after-affair
Heitler, Susan. (2011, Nov 1). Recovery from an affair. [Web log post] Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201111/recovery-affair
McCarthy, Barry W. (2012, Jan 2). Sexual recovery from an extramarital affair. [Web log post] Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/whats-your-sexual-style/201201/sexual-recovery-extramarital-affair