No matter the circumstances of the affair, it is not wrong to want to stay with your partner. You have a shared history together, your lives are intertwined financially and emotionally, and you may have children that you still want to raise together in one loving household. You may still be in love with your partner. Perhaps you even blame yourself for the affair, if only you had been more attentive, available, or better fulfilled your partner’s needs. In some way, you may want to give yourself, not just your partner, a second chance in the marriage.
An affair is not an easy thing for a couple to survive, but it is not impossible. Before a couple is capable of moving forward in a relationship that has been tested by infidelity, some very important and sensitive questions need to be asked and answered.
What were the circumstances surrounding the affair?
The one who had the affair is going to have to answer a lot of questions, and answer them truthfully. Typical questions are: Who was it with? How long has this being going on for? Do you love this individual? Do you still love me? What is about the other person you prefer? What was missing in our relationship that you would do this?
If there was a sexual affair, avoid answering questions around sexual preferences and how the other individual looked or wore. If you are the injured partner, it is best to avoid asking these questions (despite a strong need to know). These images can create further emotional trauma and make it difficult to heal.
There may be a question of why did you do this? If you have an answer, you should let your partner know, but be careful in blaming them for the affair. Usually there is not one reason why and the why is very complex and this is where counselling can be helpful.
Are both parties willing to attend counselling?
Counselling is a vital part for both parties who are attempting to recover from an affair. It is not illogical to want to save your marriage after an affair, but it is also not easy. Willingness to participate in couples counselling will help both people heal and see if they can move forward in their relationship together as a team. Hesitancy to participate in counselling, especially on the part of the person who committed the affair, could show a lack of commitment to fixing the relationship and end up being a red flag.
How was the affair discovered?
The way the affair came to light is an important part of recovery. Did the guilty party come forward in a fit of guilt and confess? Or was the affair kept a secret and uncovered one way or another? Having the courage to step up to your partner and say “I messed up” and lay everything out in the open is one way you can hope to save your marriage. You may want to avoid explaining how long it has been going on or answering some tough questions out of fear of hurting your partner further. This will end up doing more harm than good in the long run. A little bit of honesty in the midst of deception is better than a continued pattern of dishonesty.
An affair is no small hurdle to overcome, but the desire to stick it out with the person you chose as your life partner can get you through the tough time. It is not wrong to want to fix a marriage even if it has been pushed to the breaking point. With hard work, the right support systems, open communication, and appropriate time to heal, it is possible for a marriage to survive through an affair.