How to talk about the affair and affair therapy
For many people the discovery of an affair is traumatic, the world in which you have invested so much time into is shattered and your future becomes shaky and uncertain. It is like some-one has pulled the supports from beneath you.
People have different ways of coping. Some people can come to terms with the affair within a few months, while for some it may take years on end. One of the most stirring discussions you or your spouse will ever have is about an affair.
For those who have been betrayed, not addressing the affair creates more problems in the long run, such as remaining bitter and resentful by being unable to move on with the relationship after the affair.
Support for coping with the affair
Some people choose to talk about the affair on their own, others realise that talking with an experienced and impartial counselling psychologist would be most helpful. Counselling can help you understand the betrayal, grieving and healing process and also rebuild your relationship so you can move forward from a stronger position as a couple or as individuals.
To talk about the affair or not to talk about the affair?
For some, discussing the affair is very relevant for the post affair mending though for some it is not so critical. For many who have been betrayed, not addressing the affair creates more problems in the long run. You may feel bitter and resentful by being unable to move on with the relationship after the affair.
If you think and feel that discussing the affair will help you move past the affair then you should talk about it.
Anything opened must be closed, Anything started must be ended, In that context healing can only take place once all cards have been laid. Questions in your mind need to be answered, facts accepted, and misunderstandings finally understood.
Talking about the affair can bring up the past, how there was a lie one day about a meeting or business trip. How one has been deceived and cheated. One must really be prepared to be truly open and honest when answering all of these questions.
For those who try to bend the truth, they are better off not talking because when the partner discovers these additional lies they’ll realize even more how much they have been cheated lied to and deceived. Lying will undermine the healing process.
Often getting more facts and details can bring aggravated rather than favourable feelings. Hearing details about the clothes that they wore, the places they kissed and sexual positions they used is not useful.
Talking about the affair creates a special opportunity for understanding to be developed, trust to be rebuilt on that common understanding and ultimately it is the foundation for healing to occur.
So what should you focus on as a couple?
When talking about the things that occurred, it is important that partners reach a distinguished understanding about why the affair occurred, generally what was involved, and the possible implications.
Below is a guide to how to process the affair, you can try to do it on your own but if you are finding that the conversations are very strained and difficult it is best you see a trained therapist who can help you process the affair and deal with the issues that led to the affair in the first place.
Questions to explore when talking about the affair
- When did the affair start? Is the party involved someone you know or even close to you?
Did you like the person before or you were somehow drawn to him or her? Who came on first? Was the
relationship intimate and how far did the intimacy go?
- Who started it? Did either of you try to cease the relationship?Is the other party attached or bonded? Is the partner aware of it? How did the person’s partner react? If not did anyone of you attempt to disclose it?
- What places have you gone together? and when was it? Till when did it reach? Were sexual activities involved? How often was it?
- Did you both invest emotionally? From time to time how often did you and the other person talk or get in touch with each other? What other activities did you engage in?
- Where you certain that the other person is free from any STD’s? How did you know and we’re both of you tested for STD’s before engaging to any sexual relationship? Have you used any protection method or birth control barrier?
- Did you often exchange presents? What do you do with those presents or souvenirs? How much money was consumed on the affair?
- Has the affair concluded? If yes, when was it and what came up for you to decide to finish it? Is this short or long term? Have you gotten in touch with the person since then? What strategies have you done to prevent communication from taking place? What does the other party want? How will you deal with it
once the person gets in touch with you again?
- Does anyone know about the affair? How much do they know and how did they know about it?
- Are there any problems we need to consider ahead? Are there any issues involving job’s or anything concerning the law? Could the other party makes things worse or complicate us in the future? Are we of any harm or at risk physically?
How can affair therapy help?
Counselling can help you make meaning and sense of the affair and support you to make decisions about where you want to go next.
As a psychologist with many years of experience helping couples to improve their relationships and recover from affairs I recommend the following book from Snyder ‘Getting Past the Affair’ . Many of my clients love this book, reviews can be read here.
The feedback I get from clients is that they often wish they came to therapy earlier and wish they started using the book. I help clients keep clients focused on working through the affair in a constructive way, facilitate difficult conversations, process the difficult emotions, resolve conflict and heal.
Heidi Smith – Principal Psychologist read more
If you would like to book an appointment with an A resolution psychologist phone 08 6555 7786 (Applecross, Perth WA).