our everyday life

Getting Over Extramarital Affairs

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

Devastation and betrayal are common feelings for many couples following extramarital affairs. Trust shatters as you may find out the person you share your life with is not who you thought he was. Often blind-sided, feelings of shame and failure may arise. You may wonder what others will think of you and where to turn. While some spouses refuse to reconcile, there are couples who want to give it their all to rebuild their relationships. According to Janis Spring, a clinical psychologist and author of "After the Affair," a sense of hope is essential to beginning to recover and rebuild your marriage after an affair.

Choosing to Work it Out

If both people are willing and able to acknowledge the problems that led to the affair and work through it together, they can survive it, says Spring. This process may require therapy, as it can feel like a lengthy emotional roller coaster. Just as the betrayed spouse needs to feel heard and have her pain acknowledged, the spouse who had the affair needs his wife to hear the reasons why he committed adultery and what he needs to prevent this from happening again.

Dealing With Emotions

The duration of healing and rebuilding trust requires strength, love, patience and devotion. The feelings of guilt and remorse the unfaithful spouse likely has may make him attempt to push it all away. Wanting to believe it is a nightmare, the betrayed spouse may have difficulty with ongoing feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal, which may also make it difficult to listen to her spouse, even if she wishes to repair their marriage. Empathy is essential for both parties while healing. Even when it is extremely difficult to do so, it is necessary to listen actively to rebuild the trust and to move forward in an emotionally healthy manner. It may be helpful to begin to open up communication by setting side thirty minutes to talk to one another twice a week where you can both take turns speaking and listening while not allowing your emotions to overwhelm you recommends Rona Subotnik, a marriage counselor and author of "Healing From Infidelity and Depression."

Accepting to Move Forward

Doubts will arise for the betrayed spouse. Acknowledging that the affair happened and can’t be erased can help some women accept the affair, even if they are unable to forgive. In this situation, you are able to be true to yourself as you work through all of your thoughts and feelings regarding the extramarital affair, which can, over time, enable you to rebuild trust and remain married, according to Spring. The recovery path can be slow, painful and overwhelming.

Moving Forward

As you are better able to accept the extramarital affair for what it is, you are better able to see the part both of you play in your marital problems. The affair may have opened both of your eyes to deep communication problems that you can now begin to work on. Perhaps, you have resentment from the past and can get past it and heal. Understanding the reasons your spouse was unfaithful is important to your personal and marital well-being, says Subotnik. While it is important to talk about how the affair has affected you and your marriage, avoid ruminating, because this will work against repairing your marriage and will continue to foster resentment.


  • PBS.org: Healing From Infidelity and Depression
  • After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful; Janis Abrahms Spring
  • How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To; Janis Abrahms Spring

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images