Doormat or Detective? What To Do After An Affair
By: Kathy
October 20, 2014

female_detective1If your relationship has been through an affair, you know how difficult it is to rebuild trust. I have had so many couples come to me wanting to repair their marriages after an affair, but is hard to know what to do when a betrayal has occurred. Should you reinstate full trust, risking that you’ll be hurt again? Or should you become an expert detective??

I’ve witnessed just about every possible level of response you can imagine. Some people trust their partner’s apologies and promises and then are shocked when it happens again. Others become expert detectives and are constantly scanning the horizon for any potential threat – real or perceived – and blast with heavy artillery every time the wind blows. As terrifying as it sounds, someone who has been cheated on has got to find a mid-point and stand there. They can’t turn a blind eye, but they also have to let their partner cheat if that is what they are going to do.


Reinstating trust too early, i.e., pretending that a betrayal didn’t happen, might feel better in the moment, but it does not protect you from further pain. Yes, facing the feelings associated with it hurts ~ badly, but the truth is that it did happen and your spouse needs to explore why it happened. Denial will help you through the initial stages, but if you don’t eventually come to terms with the fact that it occurred, you are leaving the door wide open for it to happen again. You must feel the pain about it and your spouse must be held accountable for it in a healthy way. You both can learn and grow from this experience, if you let it.


This side of the coin is not any healthier. Please keep in mind I am not saying don’t ever check up on your mate. You must be aware that it could happen again. What I am saying, however, is that check, check, and re-checking does not prevent your mate from being unfaithful! Sometimes, it becomes like feeding a hungry monster; the anxiety will be satisfied for a moment or two, then it demands to be fed again. You will live in a constant state of anxiety, and worse, it will keep you from feeling all of the feelings associated with the betrayal. Further, consider this downside: if your spouse’s fidelity depends upon you checking up on them all the time (i.e., preventing the cheating), then you really don’t have a relationship, do you? You actually have a prisoner.


Surviving an affair is an excruciatingly painful experience, but marriages can be saved if handled correctly. Finding a place of peace afterwards takes time and emotional work. Being a doormat certainly won’t serve you well, but becoming a master detective isn’t healthy either. A good friend or counselor with some experience in handling affairs is the best way to help you find the healthy middle ground – and hold you up during the discomfort while you grow.