GET HELP NOW: Avoid Destructive Mistakes in the Aftermath of Infidelity
Infidelity is the single most hurtful and destructive thing that can occur in a marriage in which monogamy is the stated goal.
Because it is so devastating, it is often not handled very constructively in relationships. Infidelity does not have to mean an end to the relationship. In some cases, however, people may make that choice because they don’t know what else to do or because everything they do or say does not help or even makes matters worse. Or, they just stay stuck in the misery for way too long – feeling paralyzed, unable to either move forward or to make any definitive decisions. No one has prepared any of us for dealing with this trauma.
Getting help from a professional is often one of the most important steps you can take. A major reason for this is that often what happens AFTER the discovery of an affair can be more destructive to the relationship than the affair itself and harder to heal from. Things that needlessly prolong the trauma are: lying, telling partial truths, handling anger in destructive, injurious ways, ongoing deceit, destructive or false accusations, asking inappropriate questions [although answering appropriate questions is a major part of the healing], non-stop raging, and asking the same questions over and over. These are just a few of the things that prevent healing from affairs in the most healthy and timely way. It can take 2 years or so to completely heal but some couples heal much faster. Usually that is because they seek professional help immediately.
Research / statistics on infidelity indicate that receiving counseling after the discovery of an affair is the single best predictor of a successful and timely recovery. Usually, the sooner that assistance starts, the shorter the recovery time. I find that starting with couples within the first week, or certainly within the first month after discovery is optimal. But, even starting later in the aftermath process is better than not getting help at all. Mistakes can be “cleaned up” and new healing can get started.
by Judith Barnett, PhD