The disclosure of an affair usually turns people’s worlds upside down for a time. You’re in a situation you hoped you would never be in. You’re in a situation you’d give anything to get out of. Whether you’re the one who participated in the affair or the one who just found out, catching your breath and figuring out how and in what way to move forward is going to take some time.
Needless to say, you’ve got a lot of hard conversations in your future. However, there is one conversation I hope you don’t have in the immediate aftermath of discovering an affair.
Don’t decide if you’re going to end the relationship.
It will certainly come up. But avoid the hell out of making an actual decision about this. You likely don’t have enough information to truly understand what happened, what it meant to everyone, what it means now, or how this was even possible. You are likely so disoriented by discovering the affair or being discovered that you are having trouble making good decisions for your life long term. The time following the disclosure of an affair is usually terrible. But it’s terrible whether you decide to leave or you decide to stay. You need to have time to gather information, process your own experience and reflect on what rebuilding the relationship would require of each person before you can make a thoughtful decision that usually has far-reaching implications. The pain from going through this will make you want to call it quits to avoid the pain, but unfortunately, there is no real avoiding the pain from this. Moving through it thoughtfully, healing and making sure you don’t make decisions you regret is the best case scenario for this awful situation. You may decide to end the relationship, but now is not the time for that decision.
But here is what you can and need to do:
Each partner needs at least one person in their personal life that they can tell. If possible, I recommend communicating to one another who these people are so both partners are in the loop.
Slow down and make sure the basics of your life are managed. Caring for kids, eating, sleeping, making sure everyone is safe. Lean on the people you’ve shared this information with to help with these tasks if you aren’t able to manage them on your own.
If you have kids, do not tell them. If you can barely deal with this, they sure as hell can’t.
Seek out professional help. It’s really easy to make this bad situation worse by trying to address it on your own. Get recommendations or do some homework to find someone that can help.
Whether you ultimately end the relationship or work to rebuild, remind yourself you will get through this, one way or another. There is life and happiness on the other side of this. You just have to get there.