Recently, the divorce web site, DivorceForce, published a thoughtful article concerning the effect that the discovery of an affair has on an individual in a (previously) committed marital relationship. It was quite insightful and we wish to share it with you.
The article discussed interviews with three experts in the field, Anne Bercht, co-founder of Beyond Affairs Network, Tammy Nelson, a sex and relationship expert, and Leslie Hardie, a licensed clinical social worker. All three agreed that discovering the affair is quite devastating and needs to be handled carefully.
Here are their recommendations: You must decide if you wish to save the marriage or institute a divorce. If you wish to save the marriage, there are three steps to be taken. First, do not “endlessly berate” your spouse for the affair. Second, do not try to compete with or even confront the paramour. Third, focus on your healing so that decisions can be made that are in your best interest.
Whether you choose to save the marriage or leave, it is important to “establish a perception of yourself apart from what has happened.” Understand that grieving is a natural part of the process of moving on and that you should not let the affair define you as a person. Your marriage may have had its share of problems (many do), but your spouse chose to have the affair. It was not a joint decision in which you had any say. Your spouse did not seek marriage counseling with you prior to the affair and likely never asked for your consent to seek companionship outside of the marriage.
It is important to ‘talk out’ your feelings and reaction to the affair with a professional counselor or, at least, with your confidential friends. Sharing your story and your response to the event will help you focus on how you will move forward.
Finally, understand that under Florida law we are a ‘no-fault state’. This means that adultery will only have a secondary affect upon the issues in the divorce case unless marital assets were used to further the affair. There are other considerations as well under our law but these need to be reviewed with a competent family law attorney.
There is life after an affair and you should not assume sole responsibility for its occurrence. You are now at a crossroads in your marriage and it is time to make some crucial decisions for your future.