12. What would work?

Sometimes, a hug will work if offered with compassion. Just knowing that the other is willing to sit through listening to the feelings of hurt and outrage can make all of the difference.

In the past, the person who went outside of the relationship would not listen to anger. So now “just being with” the other in times of deep emotion will give a sense of hope.

13. How do I deal with such intense feelings?

Know that these feelings related to the cheating have a beginning, middle, and end. Challenge yourselves to ride the wave with confidence that they will pass. Knowing the intensity has stages will help you ride through them together. They will recur, but slowly they will be less intense and occur more infrequently.

14. How will I ever be able to forgive?

Forgiveness when you discover your partner has been cheating requires enormous psychological and spiritual maturity.

Let us say that forgiveness comes as you trust yourself again. You need it as much as your partner does. Not to forgive is like swallowing poison and hoping someone else dies. Trust me, your emotional well-being depends on working through it.

If you come to realize that you want to take the risk of trusting again, make a promise to yourself. Commit to knowing it was a calculated risk, but you will forgive yourself if your partner regresses and betrays again. You know what you will do.

You are making a decision now about yourself. Nothing that your partner has done in the past defines your worth as an individual now. Trust that you are acting with courage to attempt to rebuild the bridge of trust. You cannot know in advance the loving attachment you will experience if you have new tools and tips to relate.

15. I would feel like such a fool.

Our culture teaches you to feel you should divorce anyone who has an extramarital affair. You may sense that you are not respecting yourself. If you know in your heart that in you still love your spouse, you owe it to yourself to see what the two of you can work out together to make your relationship work.

16. Why is the pain so intense?

The feeling coming from becoming aware of cheating sometimes feels worse than death. The brain cannot handle the magnitude of trauma. It stores the memories of the pain in the body. As a result, they keep popping up in the form of flashbacks.

Deeper down, the pain may overlay previous betrayals in your childhood or other relationships. So the sense of helplessness and injustice pile onto the immediate feeling of hurt and rage.

17. I don’t understand how anyone who loved me could do cheat on me.

Of course, this does not make sense though most partners will feel that they did still love the other.

When someone falls in love with an outside person, they throw caution to the winds and do not weigh how much they may hurt the partner to whom they are committed. Neither of you could anticipate the devastation this has created.

18. So what caused the affair? I felt we had a good relationship.

Many factors can underlie the decision to be unfaithful. For example, the two of you may not have noticed that you had become distant. Often, partners feeling distant from the other and begin to imagine that the other does not care.

Many factors can contribute to this sense of distance. Many couples trace their losing touch with each other to the arrival of their kids.

Long hours at work or travel can trigger the feelings of abandonment, even though both of you have committed to the long hours or travel to support the family

Besides, sickness or illness of a parent or child can add to the sense of one of you not being there for the other. Difficulties with one’s job can lead to a fear of losing the other.  So any of these can lead to the distance in a relationship that leads to cheating.

19. Did the process happen in a way that neither of us was paying attention?

Yes, as couples begin to have trouble through fighting or not having time for each other, they lose themselves in other things. So our screens, devices, and games become significant distractions that allow couples to sense that the other doesn’t care.

As you can see, when the two of you have been arguing a lot, you may not want to spend time going out to have dinner together.

20. So what can we do now that would make a difference after the discovery of the affair?

Long before the cheating began, recall the activities that you enjoyed when you were dating and having fun. Put some new energy back into playing in that way.

Establish conflict-free times when you both agree you will not focus on the pain or the details. Turn your attention back to sharing the joys and conflicts during your day.

Express gratitude often for what is right about the relationship. If you both are comfortable with hugging again, do make that a part of your daily rituals. Lack of physical touch increases a sense of distance for some couples.

21. What can we expect from our work together through relationship or marriage counseling?

Let us tell you the good news. Couples have said to us after their counseling is complete that they know the infidelity was the worst thing that had ever happened in their relationship.

However, at the end of marriage counseling, they will assert that it’s the best thing that has happened to them. The hard work of growing from the experience and learning new tools and skills has opened them to a sense of intimacy and joy they never expected.