Feelings of shock, confusion, rage, guilt, jealousy, numbness or despair are all normal reactions to the event in both, an individual who acted unfaithfully and their partner. Infidelity often bring up feelings of unlovability, inferiority or not being good enough, because the event is mistakenly perceived as a statement that there is something wrong with you. However, infidelity is rather a sign that there was something important going on inside the partner engaging in the activity. Perhaps the person who sought the attention outside the committed relationship was going through a personal crisis that was expressed in the acute need for freedom, needed to experience a different self or pretend to have a different kind of life. It is possible that the unfaithful party suffered from confusion about their values, life goals, sense of self, belonging and needs, resentment towards their partner or reawakening of early trauma.
It is more likely that the infidelity is a sign that at least one of the parties have given up on the relationship in its current form, and are unable to admit it to themselves or their partner. The decision to end relationship often comes in many ways and enacting an affair is one of the ways to state that the relationship is no longer working. Some people have difficulty taking responsibility for such decision or talking about their feelings openly and this may result in acting out by having an affair.
Affairs rarely come truly out of nowhere. There are often signs that something is going wrong within a relationship but one or both parties refuse to face the fact. The signs can often be missed whenever one of the partners is fully absorbed in their own life.
To stay with your partner or not post the affair, will depend on whether you value your relationship enough to go through the process of healing. The decision will also depend on your personality. It is more likely the case that someone with previous history of trust issues and being betrayed will find it extremely difficult to overcome another betrayal. On another hand, if your personality is such that you are familiar with compartmentalising areas in your life, trust and jealousy have never been your emotional wounds, you have secure attachment pattern and able to forgive easily, then you may find that your relationship is revived after an affair. Perhaps you will experience a healthy sense of competitiveness and desire to be better for your partner. It is important that you do not take the decision based on whether you have children together. Latest research suggests that children are doing much better emotionally and educationally whenever both of their parents are happy and this does not necessarily mean staying together.
It is not uncommon that the partner who was unfaithful is confused whether they want to go back to their previous life. Your psychotherapist can help you to get in touch with yourself so that you can answer this question in full confidence. This can be done by exploring your values, needs and life goals. It may be that one part of you feels devastated about losing your partner and this is often based on habit and the amount of time and experiences shared together and another part is aware that your lives point into different directions.
Cognitive psychotherapy can help you by providing tools for regulating your emotions and examining your thoughts for any possible bias or erroneous conclusions about the event or your partner. Whether you feel unsure about telling your partner about your infidelity or feel lost in the assumptions about why and how could infidelity possibly happen, CBT will help you to work through your doubts. Your psychotherapist will help you to make sense of the event and clarify contributing factors. Filling the gaps in your understanding of the event will result in the coherent narrative that can then be integrated into your psyche. This is the crucial step to healthy moving on. CBT will help you to devise a strategy for overcoming your feelings and design a new life, with or without your partner alongside you.
With the help of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, you may want to spend time reflecting on any learning points acquired as a result of your experience, that could serve you well in the future. You may choose to reflect on yourself within your relationship. Since it always takes two people to create a relationship, you may want to reflect on your choice of partner, your behaviour towards your partner and your reactions to the behaviour of your partner, or your early experiences that may be making the event even more painful.
Your personality, level of commitment, length of a relationship and the way the event occurred will decide on the type of therapy that will suit you best. If you prefer to reflect on what occurred as little as possible and move on as quickly as you can, then CBT is recommended in order to get you back on track as soon as possible. If you would like to decide on whether you would like to stay in the relationship or reflect on the concept of trust, then psychoanalytic psychotherapy is recommended. If you would like to remain in the relationship, you are welcome to bring your partner along for a relationship therapy session. You will be invited to have a very intimate conversation with the help of your psychotherapist. Unless you have a preference, you will be recommended the most suitable type of therapy at your assessment.