Relationships can often survive the greatest challenges but what about recovering a relationship after one or both partners have had an affair. Relationship counsellor Martin Hogg shares a few thoughts on the starting points to recovery.
- You cannot save the relationship on your own. You both need to want it to survive, and to commit yourselves wholeheartedly to the work involved.
- If there is one word to hold in both your minds at all times, it is “communication”. You really must keep talking to each other, however painful this might be. And you need to put boundaries in place: don’t talk when one or other of you is very tired, and do set a time limit on any serious conversation.
- Don’t assume that there has been one single cause of the affair. Many factors are likely to have contributed, like external pressures on both of you.
- You are responsible for your own fidelity in the relationship. You cannot take responsibility for your partner’s infidelity.
- However hard it may be for you, you must be able to trust that your partner really has ended the affair, and it really must be over.
- Put some safeguards in place around how you live your lives: don’t make it easy for either of you to become too close to someone else. This might involve some significant changes in lifestyle, a real test of commitment.
- Make time to spend together on relaxing and enjoyable activities. Start building some new happy memories.
- Don’t forget that what has happened will have had an impact on your family. Children might be aware that something is amiss without understanding the details, and be feeling very insecure without knowing why. Their behaviour could easily change for the worse. In-laws might find themselves taking sides, which can be very unhelpful if you and your partner are trying to heal the breach. These will be extra stressors for you and your partner at what is already a very difficult time.
- Do be prepared to ask for help. Relationship counsellors have had specific training and will be able to work with you as you address this painful issue.
- It is not always possible to save a relationship. An affair is rarely the cause of the breakdown, but rather a symptom of something that is already going wrong. If you have gained insight and understanding into what happened and your personal response, this is a plus. Really.
At Birmingham Counselling Services we have a number of counsellors who can help you with relationship issues. Give us a call on 0121 314 9903 to find out more.