Building trust after an affair is one of the most daunting challenges a couple will ever face.
Think of a relationship as a savings account. Every moment you spend together from the instant you meet, you’re making a deposit. Those shared experiences, both good and bad, are gradually building your bond, padding your balance. Learning about an affair, then, is the equivalent of discovering your account’s been hacked. It’s an abrupt vulnerability compounded by profound insecurity. One moment, you feel immune to almost any hardship. The next, everything’s falling away.
All is not lost, though. Not as long as you don’t want it to be. Healing after infidelity will take time, but it is possible. And not in some partial, superficial way. A complete restoration is within reach when both partners are dedicated to achieving it.
Angela Winslow’s treatment starts with a four-session assessment, first with both partners and then separately. This is going to be a gradual process, and one that’s never guaranteed, so it’s critical that her understanding of your relationship be as thorough as possible. If you don’t embark on the treatment from an honest place, there’s little hope that you’re going to reach any meaningful inroads.
So, you’ll start together, the three of you. Angela will ask each of you to describe your relationship before and after the affair. For the next two sessions, she’ll meet with each of you individually to learn more about you, including your relationship histories and any experiences that may have influenced your behavior in them. Then you’ll reconvene for the fourth session. There, she’ll share her observations and outline a course of treatment.
Affairs aren’t strictly limited to physical acts. In this day, with such easy access to anyone and -thing, they can catch even the offending party off-guard. A simple, otherwise meaningless conversation on Facebook, for example, triggers a dangerous progression that may not extend beyond words on a screen, but it still signals trust problems in a relationship.
Regardless of its form, an affair can be an opportunity for personal growth and a more fulfilling relationship. It won’t come easily. In fact, it may be one of the most trying experiences of your life. Which is why you’ll need guidance, a professional marriage counselor to steer you through the crisis, uncover the insight and enable you to use it to forge an even stronger bond.
The ultimate goal of therapy is to plant the seeds for the kind of intimacy that was lacking even before the affair. A kind that felt possible in the beginning months of your relationship, but, in recent years, you’ve been drifting further from. Once, you could tell each other everything and hardly speak a word. Now, you talk all the time, but it rarely means anything. So, a crucial phase of the recovery involves an unflinching analysis of your relationship in an effort to better understand how and why it came about. Straightforward as it may seem—innocuous flirting spiraled out of control—the affair is always more deeply rooted than that. What felt like years of status quo was something closer to distraction. But it only becomes decipherable through the magnifying lens of infidelity.
There are no easy answers to how to get over an affair. But the ones that do inevitably come, when properly utilized, will equip you to lead the marriage you always wanted. You’ll never look back on the experience with fondness. But you can see it as a turning point.