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One of the biggest betrayals in a relationship is when one partner steps outside the relationship and begins an affair.

Affairs Causing Relationship StressDecades ago infidelity and affairs were defined very differently. In the past, the definition of infidelity was when a heterosexual married man had sex with someone other than his wife. Times have definitely changed and so hasn’t the definition of infidelity.

Today infidelity encompasses all sexual orientations and is not limited to physical sex but emotional & virtual infidelity as well.  Bottom line is, if you are in a relationship, infidelity is how you and your partner define it, in the contexts of your relationship.

Healing from an affair can be both painful, healing and ironically can make a couple closer than ever before. I know you might not believe what I am telling you especially if you have dealt with an affair and it didn’t turn out to be a positive experience, but when a couple is committed to one another restoring their relationship CAN happen.

For clarity and to remain gender neutral let’s identify each party.  The “Involved Partner” is the one who stepped outside of the relationship and had an affair.  The “Affair Partner” is the one outside the relationship that the “Involved Partner” had an affair with, and the “Hurt Partner” is the one in the relationship who did not have an affair.

Not talking about or not dealing with the affair is like having a puppy that goes to the bathroom in the house where no one wants to pick it up. Family members walk around it, don’t’ look at it, act like it isn’t there, and often blame each other for it.  They avoid it, so they don’t’ have to touch, smell, or deal with it.  Well, we all know what happens if we leave it there… it starts to stink and gets worse!

So, let’s talk about some first steps and key ingredients for people who want to remain together and work on their relationship.  If you are on the proverbial fence of whether you want to stay with the Affair Partner or just end your current relationship this recipe isn’t suitable for you.

1. RECOMMITTING

To move forward with Affair Recovery both people need to recommit to the relationship. They need to identify for themselves why they want to be in the relationship.  Recommitting to the relationship just for the kids or finances is probably not the best reason to work on the relationship nor will it have long term lasting positive effects.

2. CEASING CONTACT

The Involved Partner MUST be willing to cease all contact with the Affair Partner.

3. BEING TRANSPARENT

Transparency is key. The Involved Partner must be willing to allow the Hurt Partner to begin to have some reassurance by having access to things like passwords, accounts, phone, etc. when he or she wants to without fight or argument.  These actions begin to rebuild trust, the main factor in building a stable foundation to grow upon.

4. TOLERATING & COMMUNICATING

The Involved Partner must tolerate the emotions of the Hurt Partner. The Hurt Partner also must learn new communication skills on how to express himself or herself without constantly blaming or criticizing the Involved Partner. The Hurt Partner’s feelings are absolutely valid, but constant and chronic berating of the Involved Partner can create further distance in the relationship. This is something that a therapist skilled in working with couples can assist with.

5. BEING RESPONSIBLE

The Involved Partner needs to take full responsibility for the ACTIONS of the affair. This means that the Involved Partner needs to accept 100% responsibility on how he or she chose to deal with the negative things occurring in the relationship. As a couple begins to re-establish the trust, communication and connection they can then begin to explore what led up to the affair occurring.

This is a tender process with a lot involved and if you are trying to heal from an affair I suggest you find a professional with an expertise in affair recovery. If you live near or visit the Ft. Lauderdale area I would love to support you and your partner through this process.

Katie Lemieux, LMFT

Katie Lemieux, LMFT is the proud Owner of Lemieux Solutions Unlimited, LLC a private practice with locations in both Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs, FL.  She is also super excited about the launch of her new company with Dr. Kate Campbell of Bayview Therapeutic Services. Their new company is called K2 Visionaries, LLC, a personal and professional development company with a mission of providing both an engaging and rewarding experience.

Although Katie has many varying areas of expertise she is most passionate about the work she does with couples, teens & families, individuals, professional development and providing licensure supervision helping other therapists navigate their way to becoming well-rounded clinicians.

Katie is always willing to lend a helping hand as she believes doing the right thing by and for people.  When not helping others change and transform Katie loves to experience life by trying out new experiences, foods, adventures, and travel.

What Do You Think?

6 Comments | Join the discussion

  • Hotmomma May 12, 2016 at 5:07 am

    My husband had an affair with an officemate 20 years younger than him. I just knew about it after a year. There were a lot of struggles, gave him chances, left him but still acceptedvhim. Now I thought that everything is ok but just discovered that they are still in contact. My husband said that he is confused and can’t find himself but he keeps on saying that he loves me. The other woman never stop pursuing my husband still. I did all ways to restore our marriage for my 4 kids but he seemed to not have enough effort at all. Thinking that I will always forgive him.What will I do?

    Reply
  • Maryk Oct 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I know from experience that virtual affairs can be just as devastating as a physical ones to the offended party. My husband had a 6 month texting/phone sex affair with a girl younger than our daughters. When I found out I was hurt so bad I was numb for 3 days befoe I could figure out how I really felt towards him. One second I hated him the next I felt lost and alone and I really wanted him to stay. We talked things over for days with many tears shed and decided we did love each other enough to fight to put this marriage back together. But the one thing that still annoys me is the fact that he said that our marriage had been shakey from the beginning and that he was never sure if I really loved him. Weve been married for 25 years and it hasn’t always been easy but it seems like he was trying to put the blame of his indiscretion on me! What do you think?

    Reply
  • Simone May 5, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Why does having an affair always refer to sexual betrayal. I recently discovered through FB that my (now) ex had reunited with his former partner and for 7 months they had been catching up behind my back. He claims it was not sexual so why the secrecy? As far as I am concerned it was still an ’emotional affair’ and a betrayal as such.
    That said I agree with all the steps listed above except perhaps the password thing. The hurt partner needs to demonstrate they now accept what the involved partner says to show they forgive, retrust and respect them.

    Reply
  • mommyof4 May 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Just hv a question . Someone that i know had an affair bout 9 yrs ago they hvnt over come it . Its really gotten crazy fighting alot . He cries she cries blah blah .. so, as a family friend how can i help them get that candle fire bck they use to hv long ago . They hv 4 children now .. please help me help them

    Reply

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