When you have been married for several years, you consider the vows you spoke together to be sacred. To be something beyond love. But then you discover that your spouse has had an affair. Not only that, but the affair has gone on for months or years. Many people will tell you at this point that the marriage is upended and done, that you should never trust your partner again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
How do you cope with a spouse’s long-term affair? How do you move on from the pain? You are going to learn exactly how right now.
How To Cope With A Spouse’s Long-Term Affair
Coping with an affair isn’t easy. Learning that your beloved has been intimate with another is traumatizing. Therefore, the most important part of coping with an affair is to realize that none of the steps outlined below occur overnight. Nothing about dealing with something as jarring as your loved one betraying you disappears in the blink of an eye, and you aren’t expected to act like everything is peaches and cream.
Because let’s face it, the affair was a result of something being off about your marriage.
1. Accept That An Affair Is Difficult To Recover From
Long-term affairs are any act of infidelity that continues for 15 months or longer. This means that a long-term affair was more than a moment of temptation or a drunken one-night stand. It means that, over time, two people have developed feelings for one another. There is a physical and/or emotional connection that has the affair going strong.
As a result, coping with a spouse’s long-term affair is far more difficult than dealing with a short fling. While any kind of infidelity is horrible, there is something truly devastating about finding out about a lie that has gone on behind your back for months or years.
Since the pain can be too much to bear, many couples turn to therapy or couples counseling to work through the trauma together.
2. Cope With The Emotional Pain First
Somewhere between the initial shock of finding out about the affair, accepting that you have a long road to recovery ahead of you and that you are going to have to make a choice down the road, you’re going to be struggling with a hurricane of emotions.
You may feel anger, self-doubt, grief, emptiness, disbelief, frustration, and many other things.
Rather than trying to ignore what you feel, allow yourself to cry. If you need to take a day off from work just to sit in your room and process all that’s happened, that is what you do.
Finding a safe, neutral place to talk is also important. You may be tempted to go to your friends and family (and you should, eventually), speak with a marriage counselor or infidelity recovery specialist first. These professionals can help you speak your mind, receive feedback, and manage your negative emotions.
3. Decide How You Want To Move On
Next, you need to make a choice: Do you stay or do you go? Whatever you do, don’t make an impulsive decision. Weigh the pros and cons of staying. Ask yourself if you still love them, even after they had a long-term affair? What do you risk losing if you get a divorce? Do you have children? Are you afraid of living on your own after all these years?
Give yourself permission to live the life you want. If that means you still have love in your heart for them after the betrayal, if you believe that, with work, they can be forgiven, then that is what you do!
Just remember: They must want to keep the marriage, too.
4. Go To Counseling, Even If Your Partner Doesn’t Go
Even alone, counseling can be eye-opening. You may discover reasons for the rift in your marriage that you never thought about. Additionally, learning how to cope with trauma, even ones older than the affair, can benefit you in the future.
However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Your partner should want to go with you. Infidelity counseling or therapy is a tremendous step in coping with a long-term affair. Having inflicted you with such pain, a truly remorseful soul would join you in any endeavor—therapy included.
How do you cope with a spouse’s long-term affair? With patience and therapy, the wounds your spouse inflicted can start to heal. Work towards emotional and spiritual wellness in your journey to recovery after an affair, and nothing will stop you from moving forward with your life. Hopefully, this is together with your spouse.
Preserving the bonds of your marriage can be challenging after a betrayal like an infidelity, but it’s not impossible. Couples Academy can show you the tools to cope with a long-term affair, as well as ways to strengthen your marriage. Affairs end marriages, but sometimes those same marriages rise like a phoenix afterward—stronger than ever before. Contact us today to learn more.