Long-term infidelity is a kind of betrayal that isn’t easily fixed. Emotions are going to run rampant because you think of all the ways the cheater has betrayed you throughout the years. All the times they weren’t there because they were with someone else. Once discovered, a long-term affair brings you to an ultimatum: Do you stay with the cheater, or do you tell them the marriage is over? Is reconciliation even worth it?
Forgiveness might not seem possible while the wound is fresh, but reconciling and forgiving can help you save your marriage and recommit to your relationship.
What is a Long Term Affair?
Also known as long-term infidelity, this is a kind of affair that lasts for about 15 months on average but may extend for years. Unlike a one-night stand or even a round of cheating that lasts for a couple of months, a long-term affair develops over time, just like a normal relationship. Therefore, when a long-term affair is found out, both parties are devastated, uncertain, and sometimes angry with one another.
What to Do When You Discover a Long-Term Affair
The first thing you need to do when the affair has been brought to light is to give yourself time to feel everything. Your emotions are entirely valid. Whether you are furious, shocked, confused, scared, flustered, or a combination of all those and more, you don’t have to tell yourself to hold it together. An affair that lasts two days pales in comparison to a lie that has been going on for years. You’re going to be shaken.
But there is one thing you can’t do: Jump the gun on ending the marriage.
You have to consider a few things:
- How happy you were in your marriage. Do you love your spouse, even after the betrayal?
- Issues that may have arisen within the marriage. Were you communicating your grievances well enough?
- Issues that would stem from getting a divorce. How would this decision affect your household, family, children, work, school, and finances?
- Your willingness to stay together. Is the marriage dead? Or would you be willing to work through the pain to keep your marriage together?
If you can acknowledge that there is still love in your heart after the betrayal, you may be able to work together to save the marriage. Triumphing over such a challenge could even strengthen your relationship for the better, rekindling any passion that may have been absent in recent years.
Working Towards Forgiveness After a Long-Term Affair
Is forgiveness possible after such a horrendous breach of your trust? Yes. Right now, it might seem like the end of the marriage, like the end of normalcy, but you can move past it.
If you don’t forgive your partner, you might feel resentment and seek out revenge.
If you forgive too quickly, you might not reconcile. You might end up carrying that pain around all over the place.
You need to work towards recovery. Even if you decide that the marriage isn’t going to work in the long run, you should still aim for understanding and forgiveness. This can be attained through a couple of steps:
1. Visiting a Counselor or Specialist
Forgiving your spouse for their long-term affair is going to be difficult if you don’t have someone unbiased to speak with. An infidelity recovery specialist or marriage counselor can help you two come to terms with what happened in a healthy way. This is also a step towards the cheater confronting their actions and being responsible for the hurt they have inflicted upon you.
Alone, you might have a difficult time getting the reasons out of your partner for their infidelity. With an infidelity recovery specialist by your side, you can begin to comprehend what led to the affair, what facets of your marriage need work, and what you can do to start getting back together.
2. Communicating With Your Partner
Talking about the affair is important. Infidelity happens for a range of reasons, but most of them revolve around four emotions: hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. Perhaps your partner was hungry for something new, or they were tired of the routine, or they wanted the emotional availability of another.
Getting to the root cause of the affair isn’t providing an excuse for why it happened. A betrayal is a betrayal, and there is no getting around it. But when you understand why it happened, you gain clarity. You see where your marriage was struggling, and you can begin to envision what needs to be done to ensure your partner’s needs are taken care of, and that they feel heard and loved.
This goes both ways, too. Your spouse, if remorseful, should want to discuss the reasons behind the affair. If you’re going to work on this together, you need to be open about the reasons and begin communicating with one another more openly.
3. Working Together Through the Pain
Forgiveness is a challenge, but as you begin to recover from the long-term affair, you should begin to feel whole again. Coming together to overcome the challenge will bring back the love that had you swear vows to one another in the first place. In time, the pain and grief that you went through because of the affair will fade, and you will find it in your heart to forgive the infidelity.
It won’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Love, after all, heals.
Get Started on Rebuilding and Forgiving
When a partner has been unfaithful behind your back for so long, it’s going to feel like an earth-shattering crisis. But when you still love that person and want to have a life with them, reconciliation is always an option. Working through the pain together is the first step toward forgiving the long-term affair.
With Couples Academy, you and your partner gain access to tools used by infidelity recovery specialists to help you get past an affair. You learn how to normalize your feelings and how to revitalize your relationship in a healthy manner. Fill out the contact form to see how we can help your marriage.