How do we repair our relationship after an infidelity?

Rowan Burckhardt

Affairs are typically very hurtful experiences. Part of what makes a relationship so special for many people is that we share certain things only with our partner, such as secrets, intimate thoughts and feelings, and physical intimacy. When one partner breaks this exclusivity we can be left wondering why it has occurred and if it is possible to ever heal from this and repair our relationship. Below is some information that may help with this question.

What is an affair?

An affair forms part of what is called an 'attachment injury', sometimes also referred to as an emotional wound or relationship injury. An attachment injury occurs when we are particularly hurt by someone that we are close to (while this can be with any person who is important to us such as a father, mother, or close friend, I will use the example of a romantic relationship in this article). Attachment injuries can also be created by many other events such as betrayals of trust, our partner not being there for us when we really need them, a partner ending the relationship, or saying something particularly hurtful (e.g. about leaving). Infidelity, a common cause of attachment injuries, can be sexual or emotional in nature. An emotional affair is when we form a competing close bond with another person who could be a partner. A sexual affair is when we are physically intimate with another person. While most people would agree on certain things that constitute an affair (e.g. that having sexual relations with another person is an infidelity), there is a 'grey area' with affairs (e.g. looking at pornography or watching strippers may feel like an infidelity to some people but not others). What is important is how it feels to the partner and each couple need to determine their own limits in this respect.

The consequences of an Affair

An infidelity will usually create a tremendous amount of hurt, shock, anger, and many other feelings. The impact is often so great that it creates an emotional wound. Emotional wounds have some similarities with physical wound and some important differences. The similarities is that we will try and protect ourselves from being hurt again. This might involve not re-engaging with our partner, surveilling them more than we did in the past, 

Why did it happen?

 

How can we heal and repair our relationship?

- What the healing process looks like

- Many couples report relationship is better after they have healed than it was before the infidelity

- Importance of a coach to guide through the process

Will my partner just cheat again?