BAM! What happened?!
You just learned your partner has been cheating on you: I’m injured! This hurts! I’m angry! I want to cry! Why did my partner do this?! They wrecked us! This was all their fault!
Now that everyone involved knows, you have to try and make sense of the who, what, when, where, and why of the affair that just happened. Your emotions are all over the place. You have a lot of questions as you try to understand why your partner drove your relationship into another, resulting in an experience that makes this moment feel very much like a car crash.
Prior to the moment of truth, you and your partner may have stopped focusing on keeping your relationship on the road. Priorities may have shifted to work, kids, personal interests, etc. Think about how often car accidents happen due to a distraction. Perhaps you and your partner were distracted and your relationship was at risk of experiencing an affair. Or maybe your relationship had a systemic problem. Without proper maintenance, a car with bad brakes is likely to get into an accident. Were you and your partner doing proper maintenance on your relationship? Did you ever truly understand each other’s emotional needs? Did you know how to practically meet their emotional needs? If you stop maintaining your relationship, it’s likely to crash into something; it could be stuck in the swamp of a loveless relationship. It could have driven off the cliff of divorce or even crashed into another on the road.
Regardless of why the affair happened – it has happened. You and your partner now have to decide if you will work on building a new relationship together from the ground up or take the loss and walk away completely. If you do choose to rebuild your relationship, several things must happen.
Assess the emotional injuries of both people
You can’t work on a relationship if you are both in critical condition and not tending to your emotional health. You need to take time to assess the emotional injuries of both partners involved. This will help you get back to driving in any relationship.
Identify the faulty mechanics
It doesn’t make sense to work on building a new relationship if you and your partner are still distracted or don’t know what maintenance needs to be performed to become roadworthy. Keep in mind that most people wouldn’t attempt to build an actual car without guidance. Don’t try to rebuild your relationship without help. Find a therapist who can help you identify the issues that led to the affair so that you can begin to rebuild in a healthy way.
Do the hard emotional work that is required to rebuild your relationship. A therapist can walk with you and help you navigate the steps. Be patient with yourself as you rebuild. You just experienced an affair and you are still healing.
The pain of an affair can be traumatic and life altering. An affair marks the end of a relationship as it once was. But there is life after an affair. You can heal. You can build. And you can know love again.