Crisis Management: What to do immediately after you discover the affair
Upon discovering that a partner has been unfaithful and committed affair in the marriage, many things happen to the betrayed person. Often they go into a complete state of shock which manifests itself in disbelief, fear, panic and anger, after discovering affair or infidelity in marrage. It is terribly distressing and frightening to learn that your partner has broken the marriage contract and stepped outside the marriage.
The betrayed person is often feeling so out of control and unsafe that the immediate desire is to feel back in control and safe. However, with such overwhelming information and effects of shock, it can be hard for people to think rationally. Understandably the betrayed person is feeling very strong and overwhelming emotions. However, during this initial shock and intense period of emotions, couples need to make some immediate SHORT-TERM decision. Medium decision making and long term decision making will come later after the crisis has settle down and rational thought has returned.
What To Do:
When the betrayed person learns of the affair the immediate response is to investigate and often confront their betraying partner, especially if they have evidence. If the betrayed partner has clear undeniable evidence they often want a full disclosure, all the gory and often unhelpful details and a sense of control.
However during the immediate period following the after, people make decision that may greatly affect any attempts to repair or improve the relationship. Here are some things to consider when deciding what to do:
· SLOW DOWN. Often there is this rush to solve this quickly to get out of the pain. However, this will be a journey not an event. There is no realistic way to resolve information quickly. There are a lot of decisions to make but immediately following the discovery, a person needs to slow down and get to a more rational place to think and make decision. There will be plenty of time to get the relevant information needed.
· DO NOT MAKE MAJOR LIFE DECISION: Even though your partner has betrayed you, you are still a married couple with the responsibilities. Do not attempt decisions that are life altering such as kicking the person out of the house, cutting off their credit cards or money, burning or destroying things. Yes, you are understandably hurt and in great pain, however, doing such things may irrevocably alter your ability to repair your marriage should you chose to do so.
· Do NOT disclose the details of your betraying partner’s activity to your children. Your children do NOT have a right to know what their betraying partner did. Telling them harmful things that the partner is sleeping with people or is horrible, only hurts the children and will frighten them. This is an adult matter that is to be handled between the adults
· DO NOT TELL EVERYONE WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Often when a person finds out, especially for women, they want to reach out and call everyone they know to tell them in an effort to get support. However, this can have serious implications in the future should the couple decide to repair the relationship. Once you start telling people in your community they can apply pressure for you to leave the marriage or stay in the marriage making it harder for you to decide. Other people will put forth their agenda and opinions. It may make it harder to reconcile because once you tell people about what your spouse did, and should you decide to repair the relationship and stay, the people you told in the beginning may not support you or may not choose to forgive or support the betrayer. It can dramatically alter the course of family, friendships and recovery. If you need support you need to decide who you can trust enough to listen, not judge and not gossip about your issues. If you do not have anyone, seeking a professional counsellor can help.
· Continue to eat and sleep: After such traumatic information, people may have difficulty eating and sleeping. However, if you do not sleep and eat it, it will compromise your ability to get back to rational thinking and well being. If you are finding it hard to seek, you may consider seeking medical attention for a sleep aid. Lack of sleep further distorts thinking and rational though, which you will need lots of in the common weeks and months to make all the decisions.
· It will be a process not an event after the affair: For many people they are in so much pain and feeling so safe they want things to go fast fast fast. However, the journey to see if a couple can recover from infidelity is just that, a journey. It is not an event that can be quickly smoothed over with forgiveness and sweeping it under the rug. In the immediate aftermath of discovery, it is most important to return to a state of rational thought and relative calmness so that steps and actions can be taken. There will be time for disclosure and seeing if the relationship can be repaired.
Infidelity counselling is a process. Relationship counselling can be effective for helping couples along any stage of the infidelity process from the crisis stage of discovery, to help couples evaluate if the relationship is worth saving and is there one version they both want to process how the betrayer viewed the relationship and was able to make the decision they made to harm the relationship in such a way. There are many issues in a relationship that were ignore or avoided that come to the front after infidelity. Couples counseling can help clients work through these. Relationships can survive and be better after an affair but it does require commitment from the couple. If you want information about this please contact us.
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