1 In 5 Marriages Will Experience An Affair: Here’s What Experts Say To Do Next

We asked the experts in family counselling whether it’s possible to come back from betrayal.

When it comes to relationships and trust, we all draw our boundaries at some point. We ask ourselves the question: would we leave if they were to send a flirty message to another woman? Maybe only if they kissed someone else?

However, as time goes on and you bring kids and finances into the equation, the ‘cheating line’ becomes a little blurry. Maybe it’s worth staying no matter what?

It’s a reality that David Beckham and Victoria Beckham have had to confront face on, and recently rehash in their chart-topping Netflix Beckham documentary. While they haven’t admitted to the affair actually taking place, they did speak candidly about the rift that affair rumours created in their marriage.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was. And how it affected me,” Victoria said. “It was the hardest period for us because it felt like the world was against us. And here’s the thing, we were against each other, if I’m being completely honest.”

So – is it possible to come back after outright cheating (or cheating rumours) erode the trust in your relationship? We asked Dr Aileen Alegado, clinical psychologist and director at Mindset Consulting whether it’s achievable.

Is It Possible To Get Over An Affair In A Marriage?

(Credit: Image: Match Point)

Good news for couples currently dealing with this difficult position – it is possible to overcome the betrayal.

“Research shows that it’s not the number of times a couple have conflict that matters but rather how effective they are at resolving and repairing breakdowns,” she explains.

“No one is perfect, and we can all make mistakes. It’s how we deal with it that is important in any relationship.”

So, yes, having an affair may break the trust in your marriage and cause life-altering arguments. But, if a couple knows how to deal with these conflicts, they stand a better chance at resolving the issues.

What Do Couples Need To Do To Get Over An Affair?

According to Dr Alegado, both members of the relationship need to be willing and open to work on the problems that led them to the affair.

“They need to rebuild trust over time,” she explains. “Couples also need to be willing to do the work which may involve communicating their feelings and having difficult conversations.

“It’s not a simple solution and rebuilding trust can take years to do. They need to have a commitment to make it work.”

Why Do Some Couples Struggle To Get Over An Affair?

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There’s no denying that finding out a spouse has been unfaithful can often come as a shock, and there are a lot of emotions involved.

“In this situation it’s often the betrayal that be difficult to let go of,” Dr Alegado explains. “Sometimes it can also be hard for the person cheated on to look at their partner the same way again. It takes time.”

While partners may think that promising not to do it again can help, often when trust is broken, promises are met with scepticism.

Dr Alegado suggests that couples try to move forward with both action and words. “It is possible to overcome,” she says.

Can You Move On From Cheating Without Forgiveness?

There’s the old adage that you can ‘forgive, but not forget’. However, some couples try to continue on without ever choosing to bestow their forgiveness.

While Dr Alegado says this can work for a short time, it will set the recovery journey back.

“Holding on to grudges or anger can build into resentment over time which can often lead to problems in the relationship,” she says. “So, in the long-term, no. Forgiveness or rather an understanding of what led to the behaviour or betrayal is key.”

How Should You Approach Sex After Physical Betrayal?

When and how you choose to launch back into physical intimacy after an affair will differ depending on the individuals. Dr Alegado says that communication is key to managing this transition.

“Talking to your partner about your feelings and working out a plan moving forward is really important. Also, patience on the side of the person who cheated,” she suggests.

“They need to work hard to build trust and let the other partner feel ready to be intimate again. Also, an understanding it may not be smooth sailing this may take time and will never truly go away.”

Is It Worth The Effort To Make A Relationship Work After An Affair?

(Credit: Image: The Other Woman)

With cheating and affairs not exactly uncommon these days, this is a question many Australians may need to ask themselves over the years.

For Dr Alegado, the answer is yes, it’s worth it, but there are caveats.

“Consider whether this incident is a result of something bigger happening in the relationship and address those underlying issues,” she says.

“All relationships require effort and [it can be] worthwhile if this is a once off. Be honest with yourself and whether this is a healthy relationship and something you want to stay in for the long term.”

Sage words of advice, we say.

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