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Relationship Betrayal: Therapist Tips After Discovering An Affair

Upset couple separated on white couch

The earth-shattering moment of discovering an affair is a devastating blow that can damage the foundation of trust in a relationship. Relationship betrayals are not always physical affairs, it can also be emotional affairs where you or your partner are having emotionally intimate moments with a person outside of your relationship. No matter what type of betrayal has happened in a relationship with effort, and a willingness to heal, there is hope to rebuild what was broken. In this blog, I offer tips and insights from working with hundreds of couples over the years in a couples therapy called affair recovery. Affair recovery can help couples go from relationship devastation to restoration. I have often found what a couple chooses to do in the days and weeks after an affair can lead to more relationship damage or can help move them towards repair and restoration. Here are my therapist tips for the days and weeks after discovering an affair.

Self-care- An affair is often experienced as a trauma. Often bringing image and emotional flashbacks, anxiousness, nightmares and other trauma responses. The affair betrayal changes so much about one's life, relationship, and family in an instant; many describe it as their world shattered. Couples can become so consumed with emotions, conflict, and getting details they forget to even eat, shower, sleep, and do other basic daily tasks. While this is completely understandable given the trauma that just occurred; couples can intensify and likely create more damage by neglecting themselves. Make sure you are eating meals even if it is grabbing easy food and try not to talk about the affair close to bedtime.

Handling the details- the partner who was betrayed often wants to know the details of the affair. Be selective in what details are discussed; once you know details you can’t rewind and not have the information. Some details are more harmful than helpful in trying to rebuild trust in the relationship and can even become intrusive images in your mind. If you are unsure how to navigate talking about the details of the affair a counselor who specializes in affair recovery can help.

End the affair- to move towards healing your relationship; the partner who betrayed the relationship will need to take steps to end the affair. This could mean some life changes at home or work to make this possible. While ending the affair often seems simple to the partner who was betrayed, this often comes with many complexities.

man talking to woman counselor

Find a counselor- a counselor who specializes in affair recovery can help to make sense of

what has happened and develop a plan to restore trust in your relationship. Couple affair recovery therapy can help you to end the affair and discover with your partner why the affair started in the first place to bring trust and emotional safety back to the relationship.

Rebuilding trust after an affair comes with many complexities but it is possible. How a couple interacts the days and weeks after an affair can cause more damage or start to set the stage for rebuilding trust and finding a better partnership together. A counselor can be a great resource to help you navigate the trauma and crisis that is often experienced after an affair to develop a plan forward.

Written By: Jennifer Wilmoth, LMFT

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