What NOT To Do After An Affair
By: Kathy
April 29, 2012

There is little less painful than witnessing the devastation people suffer in the wake of an affair.  Handling it the wrong way, however, will most likely lead to the agony of a repeat offense.  Here’s what NOT to do after an affair:

Stay Under The Same Roof – If you stay, or don’t make the cheating spouse leave, they do not feel the depth of their pain about what they did.  It may feel as though witnessing you in crushing pain is worse, but it is not.  You are reactive and that gives their already twisted up logic a hook to hang the blame for their behavior on.  Sitting alone in a dingy hotel room staring at blank walls and unable to see you or their kids whenever they want, allows the cheating spouse a clear view of the very real consequences for inappropriate behavior.

Too Much Contact – I know you are hurting, but it is best not to reach out to them or answer calls/texts/emails unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e., the kids, bills, etc.).  The person who hurt you is not the best person to comfort you.  You are vulnerable and too susceptible to their manipulation in this wounded state.  Also, when you engage with them about feelings, they are removed from their pain and fail to see themselves and their mistakes in full color.  Allow them to hear the deafening silence; it will speak so much louder than any words you can say.

Keep Their Secret – Because it is absolutely mortifying to find that your spouse has been with someone else, you may be hesitant to let others around you know what has happened.  I’m not suggesting that you take out a billboard, but people close to the family who know something is up, should be told the truth.  Once again, by keeping their secret, you prevent them from suffering the natural consequences of their own actions – having to face their parents, children, neighbors, etc. and answer to them for their behavior.

Not Hold Them Accountable – If you are trying to repair the relationship, you absolutely HAVE to hold them accountable.  This means full disclosure – passwords, phone access, all accounts, credit reports, everything.  If they refuse, then you need to re-evaluate how serious they are about stopping their behavior and committing to the relationship.  Those with nothing to hide, hide nothing.

When you cower to their victim mentality or threats of leaving because you are “on their back”, you are not being true to yourself.  You deserve to be loved by someone that cares enough about you to want you to feel secure.  If you feel like you have to conduct an archeological dig to find out the truth, something is broken in your relationship.  If they are truly repentant, they will be an open book.

Make It About You – This is an all too common mistake.  It’s humiliating to be cheated on, but please know it is not about you.  They did not cheat because you are not good enough.  Young, skinny, pretty women and handsome, good men get cheated on, too.  When you let yourself get caught up in thinking that their cheating was because of you, you take the focus off of their bad behavior and put it on you – again taking them out of their pain and minimizing the amount of work they will be able to do on themselves.

Let Them Pressure You  – Can we just go ahead and agree that if they were cheating on you, their judgment was already distorted?   I’ve heard these arguments coming out of the cheating spouses . . .“How can we work on our marriage if we’re not living  together?”  “How long do I have to get beaten up about this?”  “If we can just have sex again, we’ll be okay.”  They will try to use their illogical logic to convince you that your next move should be what is best for them not for you.  The cheating spouse is the LAST person you should be looking to for guidance on what to do next.

Not Insist That They Get Into Recovery – If you plan to work on the relationship, you simply must insist that with the help of a counselor they figure out what was going on inside of them that caused them to cheat.  It could be sexual addiction, unresolved grief, not being in touch with their own needs, a victim mentality, or any number of things.  If you want to salvage the relationship and not be the victim of a repeat offense, you need to insist that they keep working on themselves until they have a complete understanding why they did what they did.  You need to work with a good therapist as well to help guide you through the grief.

Whether you plan to continue working on the relationship or not, your spouse’s recovery is in large part dependent upon what you do after you learn of the affair.  Making these mistakes halts the natural course of events – pain.   Feeling pain is what drives people to really work on themselves.

While I know it is much easier said than done, your actions need to be swift and severe.  Their promises to not do it again will only go so far.  You owe it to yourself to take action, and your partner’s ability to learn and grow depends upon it!