Affairs hurt. Betrayal is devastating. The pain sears from the moment you found out and over time, it might weaken, but it still lingers.
Should I stay with my partner?
Here is this person that I love, who hurt me very badly. They engaged in a sexual/emotional relationship with someone outside of our relationship.
I didn't sign up for this!
Our culture reduces to absolutes - the perpetrator and victim, good person and bad person. And perhaps it's not that simple. "She has an affair and the man is saying, 'You cheated on me, you slut, you bitch.' I'm thinking, 'Mister, you may think you have the moral high ground because your partner breached the contract but the contract has been breached many times. If we just pretend that this betrayal tops all others ... I think we do a disservice to honesty and to the marriage," says renowned sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel. Working through the aftermath of an affair takes reflection and humility, but a divorce isn't always the superior choice. Often there are other considerations at stake, like children and other family members.
So what are you to do? If you decide to stay, you're put in a double bind - If I speak to others about what has happened they'll shame me for staying, so now I have to lie to protect him. Now I can't talk to anybody.
This is where therapy comes in. A therapist can help you sort through difficult emotions like resentment, hurt, distrust, and shame, leading to a stronger sense of self and relationship.