Being an injured person provides an opportunity to claim a moral high ground for having been wronged. This lasts for a very short time. If you are victimized by an affair, the victim role allows you to define the next steps. Such as telling your partner to end the affair, get counseling, change behavior among other things. Use that role to set boundaries for reform. However, if the wronged party uses this position too long by lashing out and punishing their partner it can be detrimental to the relationship. Remember for your own sake it is important to work on forgiveness and let go of the bitterness.
For some couples a separation can be helpful especially when there is a lot of verbal arguing going on to cool things down. It is meant to create stability. The problem is that trust issues tend to increase when the couple is apart early on so it can sometimes cause more strain.
After disclosure of the affair the involved partner needs to commit to the process and avoid further damage. It is a difficult process going from lying to truth telling and this causes couples to experience relapses and new crises after discovery. The new information can be hard to handle. With regards to snooping, direct communication is best. For example, “Honey, when you went to the other room to make that phone call it reminded me of the affair and I felt insecure, can you please tell me who you called and why you left the room?”
After the affair the goal is to build trust again. The betrayed partner needs to make sense of their reality and will need some significant facts: Who, what, where, and when. How long has it been going on? When did it start? Where did you meet? Who else knows? When was the last time? Getting into gory details is not recommended. If you can set limits on late night talks about the affair to avoid overwhelming the betrayed partner. Wait until the relationship is more stable before discussing the meaning of the affair, why did you do it? and What did I do to cause it?
A flashback is re-experiencing a painful memory or image from the affair. The betrayed partner sees something or thinks of something that is a reminder of the affair and the betrayed partner experiences it as if it was happening in the present moment. This is very common.
To cope with flashbacks, recognize that you having one, tell your partner and ask them to help you. Be specific about what you need help with, do you want to be heard and acknowledged? Avoid potential triggers, if possible.
If you are the involved partner, try not to get defensive. Remember there is really nothing to do to fix it, just be with your partner and provide comfort and support.
Since it is not possible to sever contact completely in these situations the involved partner must keep all future contact short and restrict it to a business format. The communication sent to the affair partner must be polite but distant. No other contact, such as coffee, story sharing or office/neighborhood gossip. It is important that the involved partner NOT talk about the marriage with the affair partner. A good way to build trust in the marriage is to tell your wife/husband if you run into the affair partner before being asked.
Since this is the most injured part it takes the longest to heal. It can feel natural and spontaneous or it can feel dreadful or it can alternating between both. Respect whatever you are feeling and remember that touch is important.