Discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful can potentially be the most devastating thing that one could ever experience in a marriage. Regardless of the context or nature of the affair, in most cases, it is extremely difficult to know how to handle the cascade of thoughts and feelings that follow such a discovery.The good news: There is hope.

The following first steps are crucial to follow for both individuals and for the marriage:

If you can – before any confrontation occurs, find a licensed and trained therapist that is specifically trained in dealing with infidelity. This allows the process to begin in the most healthy and productive way. Each therapist may have their own way of addressing betrayal, but I personally start with these very important first steps:

Confrontation

As the betrayed partner, you may think you want to know every single detail of the offense. This will not help you! Individuals asking “what” and “why” questions most likely will find the answers are more painful and devastating. Stay away from these questions. Focus on “who,” “when,” “where,” and “how” questions. These questions will still be painful, but need to be answered. The “what” questions can and will cause the betrayed partner more harm now having the actual image of their partner with someone else (more on trauma and PTSD symptoms later). If the participating partner is unwilling to answer transparently and honestly, it is best to seek counsel with a trained professional. It is extremely important to the success and recovery of the relationship to have all of these questions answered.

Express Emotions of Hurt

Some therapists assume that it is best to control the betrayed partner’s emotions and how those feelings are expressed. However, it is best for this partner to express any and all emotions without the use of any blame, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling which is unhelpful for the overall process.

There Are Answers

This is the starting block of a potentially long recovery process. Couples can survive and not just simply get back to “the status quo” or back to “normal,” but they can truly thrive in their marriage. The shock of betrayal can send you spiraling and grasping for survival – take action! The above first steps can allow the long process of recovery and rebuilding trust to be the most constructive and productive pieces to a full recovery and fulfilling marriage.