Affairs and how to recover from it
A sexual relationship with a person(s) who isn’t your spouse is Adultery. This relationship could be emotional or not. An emotional affair with anyone who isn’t your spouse is also adultery in a more concealed form. This happens when a person turns to someone else usually of the opposite sex outside of their marriage for primary emotional support (e.g talking about financial difficulty, facing esteem issues etc.). This is more harmful than physical adultery.
Ladies and Gentlemen, at this point, i’d like to mention that if you have a married friend who you support emotionally, you are doing more harm than good to them and if you were honest to yourself, you should know that this isn’t your duty.
Marriage infidelity is now common among both sexes and after speaking to numerous clients who have either cheated or were cheated on, these six points below are some of the reasons most affairs happened.
- Little or no communication leading to distancing
- Lack of trust for a partner
- Unresolved conflict that is allowed to go on for too long
- Lack of value for a partner
- Expectations that were unrealistic pre-marriage
- Sudden financial worries.
- Retaliation or Revenge Affairs
All these needs that are unfulfilled will definitely look for satisfaction somewhere else. Couples, marriages are more at risk these days than ever and it’s important that you set wise boundaries with friends, colleagues etc. Most affairs started off as well meaning friendships but slowly evolved undetected until that first kiss, touch, groping, sexual thought or sex. Infidelity i have also noticed stems from childhood. Children who were deprived emotionally grow up seeking for constant attention and validation. These children grow to become adults who place unrealistic demands on their spouse. They feel let down if their spouse can’t fulfill this craving and then they look for attention outside of marriage.
Most clients caught up in adultery whom i have spoken to believed this was a quest where they were seeking for real love. At the end, it only turned out that for 80% of them, it was just a desire to feel better about themselves.
Retaliation or revenge like i mentioned earlier is one of the fast rising “star-reasons” many especially women are having affairs. On the flip side, many men begin affairs once money or their power positions increase because suddenly their sense of entitlement to life’s pleasures also increase. There are many reasons adultery occurs in marriages but it is overall a self-centered decision. A decision that is poised to satisfy selfish desires and sadly comes with a lot of deception.
There is good news and i want to tell you that even after YOU have cheated on your spouse or had been cheated upon by your better half both can still heal. So here are a few tips on adultery, affairs and how to recover from it.
ITS TIME FOR YOU TO HEAL
It mustn’t always end in divorce because what is the guarantee that the next relationship won’t have a repeat. I have seen cases where people who were hurt in previous relationship start to unknowingly self-sabotage themselves by triggering a series of abusive relationships after their first terrible experience.Healing after infidelity is not impossible. More and more couples are enduring the difficult healing process in attempt to restore their marriages.
- The magic question. A very hard question to ask especially by the partner who has been wronged. However, the moment you ask this magic question “Why did you cheat on me”, it suddenly balances you (the offended) out and in most cases creates an healthy environment for the adulterer to express themselves. This stage begins to show you how and where things went wrong and the part everyone played in the process. It’s a tough first step but it’s doable. Marriages that have stood the test of time have been able to learn this one skill but if you and your partner cannot initiate this step, then this is the point to seek out a really good counselor around you who can help you navigate through the emotional labyrinth.
- “Truthful and Accountable” become watchwords. It’s one thing to have been truthful enough to tell your spouse the reason you cheated on them but it’s another thing to become accountable. Accountability simply says “I am sorry for what i did and i’m making sure i put things in place to help me stick to my promises of faithfulness”. This for most offended partners is more important than the “I’m Sorry’s” At this point, i urge you to avoid trying to intimate anything sexual but concentrate on building trust through care and validation.
- Enrich & Restore. This is what i call “The Emo Eraser”. Something bad has happened and it’s fresh on the mind. How do you replace this? Simply look for a way to remind the offended about the good things about your relationship. If they still are not talking to you, you can do it through cards, a whatsapp message(if you haven’t been blocked 🤭), an sms, flowers with notes on them). This process is a humbling one that involves learning new skills that will make the bond between partners strong again.
You were the faithful one in this relationship, you gave it everything you had, your partner was everything to you until they messed it all up. Will i ever trust again?(Yes you will), where do i even start from?(you are reading this so you have started already). There is a sequence i noticed when counseling clients who their partners cheated on.
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For the faithful one who was let down, these are the phases they go through:
- The Denial and Shock Phase. They do not want to believe that Jeff was unfaithful after EVERYTHING they invested including themselves. Julie, why Julie ? oh my lawd! they cannot believe either that Julie could run game on them.Most clients look for opportunities to even prove that their spouse may not actually be cheating facts that are presented to them regarding their spouse’s activities.
- The Stage of Fury/Anger. It is now obvious that you have been violated. You hate your spouse, you feel like a fool, hurt is all so evident and now you resent them heavily. This stage is important because if the resentment isn’t dealt with, time may heal the hurt but not the resentment.
- The Recoil Stage. At this point, the faithful partner rather than face the true situation and how deeply it affects them begin to figure out ways to protect themselves from more hurt. This is not a solution but a self preserving move. It’s not in your best interest to withdraw or recoil rather you should move out and attack the feeling that you have been let down because the faster you do this, the faster you heal.
- The Mourning Stage. You already know that the infidelity hit your relationship badly and rocked your safe boat. Now you are mourning the loss of your former relationship before the unfaithful spouse shook it all up. It’s the healthiest stage and you deserve your time to mourn it.
- Stage of Acceptance. What is done is done and you have now come to terms with the infidelity, all it’s effects on you and the relationship. Now you are willing to move past it either with or without the unfaithful spouse.
We are all made up differently and for most of us, the way we experience these stages would differ from person to person. My job as a counselor is to recognize the stage the client is currently in, be sensitive to it and then guide them them through the process NOT advice them through which is the point most counselors get it wrong.
The “Mourning Process” is the point every one who has been cheated on MUST get to before they start thinking of taking any actions. It is the point of clarity and dire mistakes are made by people who were cheated on because they took rash/illogical decisions before getting to this point.
Many clients want to end the relationship but my advice is separation for some time to allow both spouses the emotional space and time to process their own thoughts and feelings. When i advice clients to separate for a week(s),month etc. after an infidelity incidence, the ultimate aim is always to allow the couples to reestablish trust as well as rebuild their friendship.
At this point, it’s important to mention that if after you separate from your spouse momentarily due to infidelity, you need to take note of every reason that makes you want to go back to them even before your healing process is completed because those reasons are very important and point to deeper personal issues we need to deal with (e.g Money worries, Missing Sex, Feeling Empty, Feeling insecure being outside, Fear of loosing them completely to the other woman/man).
After cheating on your partner, do not EVER think that sex and gifts will make up for this because they don’t. However, if your partner becomes fine when you do offer these, i suspect you may have bigger problems to deal with – Temple Obike
Everything here is not to judge you but simply to equip you because after you said “i’m sorry” i could bet you that if the same circumstances that led to your infidelity presented themselves AGAIN in a different country, different scenario etc. You may still do it again. So please read below and learn.
- If you are talking to a counselor or your spouse, you need to detail every step that led you into having this affair, GB whatsapp, Whatsapp for business, secret email, names saved on your device as aliases, where you met up, how you met etc. The reason you are doing this is simple. The more information you give out on this, the more accountable you become to your spouse because your spouse or counselor can identify those steps if you start slipping again and put you in order.
- NEVER think that it will be easy to cut off the relationship with the side-chick or side-guy. They are humans too and most humans will pursue when they feel the embers of your love (sorry lust) dying down.
- You MUST invest time in your spouse to enable you realign and bond with them. One of the most painful things after you cheat on a spouse is the part where you must remain accountable (you become a child again). You goofed after you were given freedom so now you have to personally submit your freedom to them in a strange way. You need to tell them where you are, who you were with, when you will be done with your activities,have a pass wordless phone in some severe cases etc.
- This entire healing process MUST not be forced by you because that by itself is a selfish-process. The same process that put you in this smelly, half-sunk boat you are in. Instead of concentrating on the time it’s taking, concentrate on developing new healthy commitments to understand yourself and your partner on a deeper level.
- Tell the hurting one that you are not only sorry about what you did or because you got caught BUT rather, you are sorry for destroying the amazing thing “trust” both of you had. That is why you are asking for forgiveness and looking to restore the depth of the love you had.
Now that both the hurting and unfaithful spouse both know what to do, Here are some things i believe both of you need to apply yourselves to during this fight to overcome adultery and all it’s effects.
BOTH OF YOU NEED TO DO THIS:
- The one who cheated MUST not contact the person they cheated with.
- The one who cheated MUST do everything within their power to get back your spouses trust.
- The one who cheated MUST be transparent, 100% honest and shouldn’t have any aspect of your movements/life that is off-limits to inquiry.
- The one who was hurt must commit to the entire tough process of forgiveness because the unfaithful spouse MAY loose hope of ever getting you back if it seems you are NOT willing to forgive them(yes i know you may just be doing it to make them suffer more before finally agreeing to participate but understand that this could easily have been you on the other side too. Everyone has a price, just pray that circumstance never touch your price)
- BOTH of you need to understand that though forgiveness is necessary, your reconciliation MUST be based on true repentance- some may never be able to heal.
- BOTH of you MUST commit to working with a professional (a pastor, an imam OR a counselor) YOU TRUST. This will help you recognize the patterns in your communication that led to the affair and block it in the future.
As always, i hope this piece helped someone somewhere. An affair doesn’t always spell doom to a marriage or relationship but can be navigated. Knowledge they say is power but i say in it’s right application lies real mastery.