1) What are five steps that you can take to forgive him/her fully and move on together?
- Get all the information about the affair from your partner that you need, so that you are dealing with the truth.
- Tell him/her how you feel and all that you feel
- Take responsibility – a relationship is a dance between two people, so ask yourself how you contributed to the final outcome
- Learn the lessons that need to be learnt from marriage and the outcome
- Start doing some couple counselling to strengthen your relationship
2) How do these steps help?
- One helps you build from the bed-rock, a solid foundation, so that there are no subsequent disclosures that rock the foundation
- Two helps you deal with your feelings to some extent; the information given may ultimately bring you closer
- Three helps you to avoid being a victim, and helps you to find a level of personal agency in what happened and what is happening
- Four helps you and your partner to better understand the dynamics in your relationship
- Five helps you to regain control of the situation by re-orientating yourselves and building a better partnership
3) What are some of the things you will face and feel during this time and how can you overcome them?
Kubler-Ross’s classic symptoms of a trauma can apply; these include:
- Denial: Feelings of disbelief and incomprehension that such a thing has happened.
- Anger: Feelings of anger and even hatred to your partner and co-accused. Also anger and self-hatred, and more generalised feelings of anger/hatred to those around you.
- Bargaining: Questioning what you could have done to avoid this happening, the ‘What ifs…?’.
- Depression: Overwhelming sadness and a sense of loss.
- Acceptance: Finally coming to a place of accepting that the events have taken place, that lessons have been learnt and that your life can somehow go on.
You can overcome these feelings by realising that they are a normal part of the process and that you are on a journey to recovery. In the meantime, you will be subject to an emotional roller-coaster ride of highs and lows, and feelings which are largely out of your control. Perhaps working through many of these feelings with a therapist or joining a support group of similarly affected people may help.
4) How can the following things help to rebuild the relationship after the cheating?
- Counselling – There may be a case for both individual and couple counselling. Individual counselling helps us to explore deeper hidden issues in our own personal journeys, as well as assisting us with acute emotions that may be arising from a traumatic event. Couple counselling can help couples better understand the dynamics of relationship and develop their communication and conflict resolution skills.
- Communication – Communication is the key to unlocking the potential of any relationship. This is often an underdeveloped area of relationship which when developed, can help couples overcome many of the challenges and problems they face.
- Understanding what he/she did and why – There are lessons to be learnt, and trust cannot be re-established without full disclosure. This would also facilitate personal responsibility in both partners, as a relationship is a dance between two responsible ‘able-to-respond’ people.