Moving Forward Alone
- Get rid of all mementos and reminders.
- Make the farewell Final — the partner needs to hear it and send the letters.
- Answer all unanswered questions: complete disclosure. If you are not sure you can handle the answer to the question, do not ask it. Explicit sexual details may do more harm than good.
Moving Forward Together
- Work as a couple together to repair the old wounds and flashbacks. The unfaithful one should not minimize the other’s pain or avoid talking about it.
- The offender needs to put the betrayed partner on the inside. Be completely open and do not leave room for your partner to fill in the blanks about details of the affair — the imagination will always go to the worst case scenario.
- Cement the wall with the affair partner: concretely end all contact.
- Keep no secrets: do not try to protect a partner from pain or hurt by keeping secrets. Any mistruths or “white lies” can sabotage the healing process and put you back at square one.
- Prove that it is over with concrete evidence.
- Accountability is important: the unfaithful partner needs to answer, for a while, to the other person. i.e., phoning the partner on the hour or giving a specific breakdown of the day’s events.
- Respect boundaries. Behavior must change — create new safer patterns around the opposite sex.
- Loosen the cord — do not keep them on a short leash forever. Autonomy is a must again, and the offended partner needs to learn to trust again and give space. No one can guarantee anything, however one still needs to trust for their own sanity. This is the paradox in life. You have to give trust to get trust.
Remember: In order to get someone back, do not chase or grovel and promise to be better. This creates a sense of “no challenge” for the partner, and gives your power away.
Address the issues in the relationship:
- Is the marriage too child-centered?
- Deal with incompatible sexual interests.
- Build fun into the relationship with common interests.
- Excusing or condoning
- Giving permission to continue in the behavior
- A gift you give to self
- A choice
- A process
- Letting go of obsessive bitterness
- Letting go of pain to free yourself without minimizing the injury
- Letting go of revenge
What is unforgivable?
- Has the affair stopped?
- Is there regret and remorse?
- Beware of quick promises to change.
- Sex Addicts/Repeat offenders? Watch out for the addictive cycle.
Do not forgive too soon: The unfaithful person must know why they had and affair, and create new boundaries in their world to prevent future affairs from occurring.
- Acknowledge your own pain.
- Understand the personal weakness and emotional vulnerabilities.
- Be specific about what you expect and what you cannot tolerate.
- Be specific about what you are forgiving your partner for.
- Perform an overt act of forgiveness verbally, physically, or in writing.
- Stop blaming and start living.