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You Found an Affair, Now What?

Maybe you were looking through your husband’s phone and you accidentally came upon an undeleted text. Perhaps you were already suspicious and you were intentionally accessing your wife’s facebook account. Whatever your motives were, what you found is unmistakable evidence your spouse is having an affair. Now what?

First, don’t get hung up on definitions. An affair is a betrayal. My favorite definition of betrayal is: to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling; to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to; or to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence. This can cover everything from flirtations on Facebook to one night stands. In fact, we are finding that financial infidelity is outpacing sexual and emotional affairs when it comes to leading causes of divorce. Bottom line, if you feel that what you discovered meets the criteria for a betrayal, then you get to define it as an affair.

Next, take some time. An affair does not mean your marriage has to end in divorce. What you feel right now is grief. This grief can feel as sharp as grief you would feel if you lost a loved one. You will go through the stages of grief: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, depression/sadness, and acceptance. If your discovery is recent, you may be in shock. In seconds you could feel angry, then sad. Making major decisions right now is probably not a good idea so call a friend, go on a walk, take the weekend and go away for awhile but don’t pull the plug on your marriage.

Finally, after you have taken the time you need, decide if you want help. An affair is survivable. There are lots of great books including Harley’s “Surviving an Affair,” and MacDonald’s “How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair,” that can guide your next steps. If you choose to get professional help you must find someone who understands the process of recovery. Affair Recovery must come before ‘marriage counseling’ and any therapist who confuses the two may damage things further.

One last thing: an affair is not your fault. Every married person feels lonely, abandoned, frustrated, or angry at some point, but not everyone steps out of the marriage vows and betrays a spouse. An affair is a choice just like robbing a bank.

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