An extramarital affair can have devastating effects on a marriage—and even more so when the other woman is your best friend. After you discover the affair, you may be feeling a combination of hurt, betrayal, anger and even numbness toward both your husband and best friend. All of these feelings are normal, but losing control of your emotions can be detrimental to both your emotional well-being and hinder you from having a constructive discussion with your husband about the direction of your marriage.
The shock and anger of finding out that your husband cheated on you with your best friend may leave you too emotionally raw to discuss the issue with him right away. In the early hours—or even days—following your discovery of the affair, it may be helpful to distance yourself from both your husband and your best friend to give yourself time to process all of your emotions. You might choose to spend the night with a relative or by yourself until you feel you can approach your husband with relative calmness.
Foster Honest Discussion
Once you approach your husband about his adultery, talk honestly about how his behaviors have affected you and what led up to the affair. Although knowing all the details of your husband and best friend’s liaison may not lessen the hurt, understanding why he cheated may help you begin to understand the situation, which can help you begin to heal and make more reasoned decisions, explains marriage and family counselor Ondina Hatvany.
Although some extramarital affairs are spontaneous and unplanned, in many cases, they happen after years of unaddressed marital problems. When you discuss the situation with your husband, look carefully at your marriage. Ask yourself whether you have been happy as a couple, whether the marriage has been meeting your needs and whether you and your husband are able to communicate effectively, especially about physical intimacy.
While your husband is ultimately responsible for his own behavior, name-calling, blaming or attacking will do little to help you make an informed decision on whether to try to repair your marriage or separate. If you are unable to restrain your feelings, it may be helpful to talk to a professional counselor, who can help you learn relaxation and effective communication strategies. Likewise, in the aftermath of an affair, a marriage counselor can help you and your husband explore the issues that led him to cheat on you with your best friend.
Deal with the Friendship
In addition to feeling complex feelings of betrayal, sadness and anger toward your husband, you will likely have similar reactions to your friend who had the affair with your husband. As with your husband, it may be useful to limit contact with your best friend until you are able to discuss the situation calmly. This will also give you time to assess whether you want to try to repair this friendship, suggests natural and spiritual health author Jane Alexander. Additionally, Alexander recommends sitting down with your friend and talking to her honestly about your feelings and use her response to help you decide whether you want to try to maintain ties with this friend.
Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images