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Getting over an affair and falling back in love with your husband are related but slightly different processes. Getting over an affair is a grieving process. Falling back in love with your husband or partner begins with acceptance and strategies of renewal. All these processes take commitment and work.
Getting Over Your Partner's Affair
Your partner confesses an affair and agrees to end it. Psychologists find that what follows for you are often the five stages of grieving first described by David Kessler and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
In Kessler's book On Grief and Grieving, he emphasizes that moving through these stages is essential for recovery, but that individuals do so in their own way and time. Kessler points out that the grieving process is as unique as you are– you may experience several of these stages at once or you may find yourself cycling back and forth between them. Some stages may pass quickly and others may take a long time.
Getting Over Your Own Affair
Affairs happen for a reason. Seldom are they as simple as physical attraction and opportunity. Before you can move on, you need to understand why you had an affair in the first place. While taking responsibility for what happened is crucial, once you've done the work of understanding why, you then need to work to forgive yourself. Lingering guilt isn't productive.
The Recovery Process
At some point, moving past the affair has to involve you both; recovery is a mutual process. Once you've both agreed to move on together, you'll need to rediscover why you both fell in love in the first place.
Marriage counselors counsel that specific actions or attitudes led to the affair. Moving past the affair requires both of you to examine those actions and attitudes and to work together to find ways of changing them. Often the pressures of work can overwhelm a marriage and leave you feeling abandoned. Sometimes, the way each of you treats the marriage may be unhelpfully influenced by your parents' marriage. Seeking counseling can help you both to untangle those assumptions and habits formed in childhood.
Finding the right counselor is critical. Take your time to find one that works for you both. Counselors are human, too, and may sometimes bring their own relationship issues into the counseling session. While you may be initially gratified if the counselor seems to be more sympathetic to you than your partner, that's a good indication that you need a different counselor.
Falling Back in Love – Or Not
Recovering from an affair isn't the same thing as falling back in love, which generally doesn't happen spontaneously. You first may have to renew your friendship and explore the reasons you initially liked your partner. At some point, you'll need to renew your sexual relationship, which, itself takes time.
At some point, once you've worked through the recovery process you'll need to consider what comes next. Not every recovery leads to a continuation of the relationship. If you determine to stay together, discuss what your future will look like and how you'll work to achieve it.
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