9 Things to do after discovering infidelity

Reader's Digest Editors

You want to scream and rail at your partner. You want all the details about the affair. Above all, you want the secrecy to stop. These strategies can help you find what you need to heal, to repair your marriage, and to move forward with your life.

1. Ask lots of questions

At first, you may want all the factual details: How often did you meet? When did you cross the line from friends to lovers? What sexual acts did you share? How many times? Where? How much money did you spend on him or her? Who else knows about your affair?

Later, your questions may shift as you think about your partner’s emotions, about the reasons he or she was pushed and pulled into the affair, about whether the affair has turned a spotlight on a hidden weakness in your own relationship.

Read more: 3 Signs your relationship can survive an affair

 

2. Balance your rage with your need for information 

You want to scream, cry, and lash out—but big emotions may prevent your partner from making the full disclosure that leads to recovery. To get the truth (and form a tighter connection), be compassionate about your partner’s emotions.

“When you get all the facts, you’re not obsessed anymore,” affairs expert Peggy Vaughan says. “The only way your partner will be willing to answer is if you can manage not to lash out and attack every time. People who’ve had affairs are afraid to reveal everything because they’re worried it will become a marathon, with a downward spiral of out-of-control emotions.” 

If one of you becomes upset, it’s time to stop the discussion for now.

 

how to discuss infidelity

 

3. Set a time limit on affair talk

Restrict yourselves to 15 to 30 minutes. Don’t let the affair take over your lives. Do ask questions as they arise instead of building up resentment and long lists of questions.

“Don’t let your worries go underground. Keep talking,” Vaughan says.

 

4. Expect curveballs

The partner who had the affair may become angry or even accuse you of betraying him or her. Keep the focus on the affair itself.

 

5. Talk about how the affair has affected you

Discuss your doubts, disappointments, feelings of betrayal and abandonment, anger, and sadness.

As your partner builds a wall between him or herself and the former lover, help open a window of intimacy between the two of you. Don’t hold back.

 

how to move on from infidelity

 

6. Don’t forgive quickly or easily

You must grapple with your pain and anger first and rebuild trust.

 

7. Find support

Reconnecting with family and friends, and even finding a support group to join, can help you feel less isolated.

 

8. Spend time together without talking about the affair

Connect as friends and romantic partners by doing the things you’ve always enjoyed.

 

9. Forgive only when you’re ready

You’ll never forget an affair, but the painful memories will fade with time. Forgiveness allows you to move past the pain and rage and to reconcile with your partner.

Take this important step only when you feel ready to let go of your negative feelings, when your partner has been completely honest and has taken steps to rebuild your trust.