When couples have made an agreement to be monogamous, the violation of that agreement will usually be extremely painful for one or both of the partners. One of my areas of specialty as a Christian counselor is to help couples and families navigate the healing and recovery process following a breach in the monogamy agreement.
Affairs can be very messy to deal with and bring tears, anger, and damaged trust. When couples choose to stay together after an affair has occurred within their relationship, they will have a lot of hard work to do. Yet what I have seen time and time again is that recovering from an affair can actually improve life for a couple. As counterintuitive as this sounds, it can be true.
A Realistic View of Your Relationship
The disclosure of an affair and the recovery process following it can create a rather somber view of your spouse and your relationship. It can be very sobering to face and accept the culpability that you both share for creating an environment in which an affair became possible. But this can also create a much wiser, more realistic view of your partner and your relationship. You can both begin to see each other for who you really are – and learn to accept each other as you really are. I have seen that true intimacy can begin to grow between couples after an affair has occurred. Many of the post-affair couples I work with have commented that, while they thought they knew each other prior to the affair, what they have learnt as a result of the healing and recovery process is that they were both hiding parts of themselves from each other. Through this process, they were able to both come to develop a more realistic view of themselves, each other, and the relationship.
Addressing the Unhealthy Parts of Your Relationship
Healing from an affair will require couples to face and deal with the unhealthy aspects of their relationship. Relationships in which affairs occur are often marked my deficits in one or more core relational areas. Couples who chose to recover will be forced to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. They will be required to define and implement healthy boundaries. The best in each person will have to stand up and they will be required to become more assertive and to increase their own personal differentiation. In many ways, an affair can be a powerful impetus for moving people forward towards maturity in their own adult development.
Experiencing and Displaying the Redemption of God
As a Christian counselor, I find this one of the most inspiring aspects of working with post-affair couples. For the Christian, concepts such as repentance, forgiveness, and redemption are at the core of our worldview. We hold these ancient ideas very dear. And there are very few circumstances that highlight the power of repentance, forgiveness, and the subsequent reconciliation like a relationship in which there has been an affair. When couples experience affairs, the “offending partner” is confronted with the need to repent and seek forgiveness. The “resolute partner” (who has usually kept the monogamy agreement) is confronted with the decision of whether or not to forgive. When repentance is met with forgiveness, the result can be a very beautiful process of creating a relationship that is far better than it was before the affair took place. What’s more, the couple that reaches the redemption phase of recovery has a powerful story of hope and healing to share with other couples in similar circumstances. Affairs can be powerful opportunities in which to experience and display the redemption of God.
Obviously, I am not saying that couples should engage in affairs as a means of improving their relationship. But I am saying that if you find yourself confronted with the choice of staying in or leaving a relationship in which an affair has occurred, there can be hope for a possible future together. And it doesn’t have to be a dark future. God is good and He is faithful – there is hope.
Christian Counseling to Start Healing from an Affair
Christian Counseling is an excellent place to start the process of healing from an affair. With the help of a good Christian counselor, you (and your spouse) can begin to find the answers and direction you are seeking.
“Through the Forest,” courtesy of Dustin Scarpiti, unsplash.com; “Looking Up,” courtesy of Iswanto Arif, Unsplash.com