21 Things That Will help You Survive An Affair

By David Small •  Updated: 12/24/15 •  12 min read

After knowing your spouse is having an affair, it becomes a horrible gut-wrenching feeling which is a poison that infects every part of your life.

Overcoming infidelity is difficult, painful work where both you and your spouse must be fully committed to refurbishing the damage, rebuild trust and reconnect.


It is painful and a difficult situation to survive an affair for any couple. Anne Bercht author of the best-selling book My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me’,  says that the first stages one seems to be literary teetering between life and death which is not just any situation that one will just get over.

A lot of things at this time are running through your mind; there is anger, sadness, distress, and scare.  However, it does not have to be this way. There are strategies to survive an affair that is possible to help a couple go through this difficult time.

 I want to share with you the 21 strategies to survive an affair;

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1. Is the relationship salvageable?

You and your spouse should decide whether the relationship or marriage is worth saving. It is important for both of you to agree if there is more left that could be worked on to save the relationship.

The spouse cheated on should be willing and ready to forgive and the other spouse is remorseful and willing to sever the other relationship.

2. Breaking all contact with the lover

At this point is likely that the lover has already been approached by the other spouse in the midst of anger and agony. When your spouse has declared he or she does want to work on the relationship, it is important to break all contact with the lover.

It is not easy to achieve a common goal when there is still a strong side temptation, mostly when working together within the same organization. When the distance is created there is a better chance for the reconciliation and survives an affair.

3. Give yourself enough time to grieve

If you want to survive an affair successfully, you have to move on after honestly examining your feelings and your marriage.

If doubts will keep coming back to thwart your happiness and marriage, time and time again. It’s time to move on. It is important to take the time to heal as you will allow yourself to process the situation for as long as it takes.

4.Ensure you have all the information you need


As you give yourself time to grieve, this is also the time for both of you to understand the reason why the other spouse fell out from the decision he/she made and deeply regrets it. The cheated on spouse will be needed to be shown and convinced that this will never happen again and why it happened in the first place so that they can fix the problem.

There is the call for reassurance as to your desirability and trustworthiness. When needs are met and there is an understanding, it is much easier to proceed with other tactics to survive an affair.

5. Find out what type of affair is going on

In Drs Harley’s and Chalmers’s Surviving an Affair they describe the most common types of affairs, the reasons they begin and end, the best way to end them and approaches to restore your marriage after an affair. Affairs happen for different reasons just as people lead different lives and want different things.

Each reason or excuse requires different ways of being dealt with. It could be ego, complex undercurrents, different careers or aspirations or any other matter. To survive an affair, you need to know exactly what you are facing.

6. Know the affair is not your fault

According to Linda J. MacDonald in her book, How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair, she says that it’s the cheating partner task to attempt to win back their partners’ trust. It is an obvious thought for the other partner to feel that he/she may have done something wrong that may have drove the partner into the arms of the lover.

Many are times where both of you may have made mistakes and truth of the matter is that it takes a choice to have an affair and the cheating partner is at fault no matter the circumstances. It is the role of any spouse to solve a problem instead of running from it by cheating.

An affair is a temporary indulgence in an emotional and physical neediness that never amount to anything solid between the two people. By doing this it helps to maintain self-esteem and builds respect between the two spouses.

7. Identify what is internally driving him to the affair

We are all human and prone to making mistakes; however, a repeated mistake becomes a behavior which ends up being a character. Without solving the key problem that caused the affair chances are high that he/she will continue with the affair or eventually start another one.

In order to survive an affair, your partner needs to be open to how his/her past affected him/her decision making, how he/she copes with relationships and more. Give him room and the environment to open up for both of you to develop effective strategies with better decisions.

8. Center on counteracting negative feelings with positive ones

There will be hard conversations between the two of you which should not be repeated as it will make it feel like a toll after a while and can turn out to be antagonistic. Since you will have understood why it happened and why it will never happen again, is to hinder it from becoming a third party in your marriage that never leaves.

Spending quality time together, besides, romantically, will help you focus on your being together instead of focusing on the affair that could turn every occasion about your marriage into a negative one. Partake in activities that give both of you peace and joy to survive the affair easily.

9. Develop Strategies to forgive and restore trust

Dr.Janis A. Spring author of the book  After the Affair discusses how it takes an extraordinary combination of clarity, wisdom, spirit, and heart to survive an affair. As you heal from the pain, you need to focus on rebuilding trust when your partner has been unfaithful. It is one of the hardest tasks when it comes to dealing with an affair.

Let it be a freewill decision for your partner to prove to you that he/she needs to be trusted again. This is not the time to follow him/her up with endless phone calls when you are not together or stalking him/her. The relationship should continue to be flawless and effortless from your side but with assurances that you are still in for it.


10. Develop guidelines to renew and revive the relationship

Marriage is teamwork and unfortunately prone to experience such circumstances as infidelity. When both of you have come to a solid agreement on working on it after an affair, it will both efforts for it to be successful. If your spouse is remorseful and is showing effort, it is only fair you show that you are up for it as well.

Sometimes it’s the boredom that drives away the love and excitement in marriage, and by having new guidelines to change the layout of your relationship it may actually bring a difference. This includes every angle of your relationship, from how you communicate, handle finances, your romance and other matters in your marriage.

11. Create Transparency

Extraordinary precautions must be taken to assure that there will be no relapses. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage  Dr.Willard Harley said, Affairs thrive on secret second life as it is what is done under the radar. Many spouses end up cheating by doing what their spouse would not approve and end up having part of their lives hidden from their partners.

To survive an affair, the cheating spouse should end their secret second lives by being transparent in the way they live their lives. It can be a bitter pill to swallow for your spouse but it is better for him/her to know your desires that you may have hidden them from her/him.

12. Meet each other’s Basic Emotional Needs

After experiencing infidelity in your relationship, there is a feeling of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is way more lethal than any other kind of abuse as it lessens the sense of identity, self-worth, and dignity. Emotional abuse could be experienced by both partners either after or before the affair.

After the affair, the other spouse has hopes to learn the needs met by the lover as it will be easier for him/her to take the place of the lover. The couple needs to work on meeting each other basic emotional needs for them to survive an affair.

13. Keeping it between the two of you

It is unfortunate that in the beginning after the affair has come out in exposure; there will be close friends and family who will be aware of the situation. However, if both of you have agreed to work on it on your own, it’s best to keep it to yourselves.

This is not the time to share your every progress with your friends or close family members. If you want to seek help, you need to seek professional help from a marriage counselor instead of amateurs.

14. If there is no progress, seek professional help

Having a third party who will know everything about the two of you is not something everyone is comfortable with. When a couple wants to seek professional help, is not advisable to rush there immediately without trying out on your own.

When you are both willing to work on it and it is not working, you should both come to an agreement to see a professional who can guide you both in every step.

15. Try and create consistency

By now you should have created new guidelines and strategies to help you survive the affair. For a couple that has been together for a longer time, it will be easier to forget to do what you had promised each other. The biggest challenge is to be patient and know it takes an effort to overcome the affair to succeed.

16. Lower your expectations on quick or easy forgiveness

Your partner may still be in deep pain or shock that will involve a lot of tears, rage, and anger. This can still happen after coming to an agreement on working on the marriage.

Nevertheless, the other partner should try and show progress on the forgiveness in order to keep his/her partner motivated and feeling of acceptance.

17. Take Responsibility

Initially, it’s expected to have a lot of blaming from both partners. Though it is not your take to blame yourself on why your partner cheated, it will take the two of you to refurbish the relationship if the blaming stops.

Take charge of what your partner could be missing from the relationship and him or her should also give whatever is missing out.


18. Be ready to invest

In Understanding, the five love languages by Gary Chapman shares the five ways to express love emotionally. Every person has a primary love language that the partner must learn to speak if they want them to feel loved. The languages include:

By knowing and understanding what your partner’s love language is, you will be able to survive an affair by investing in each other’s love language.

19. Keep the questions coming

Relationship and marriage are all about an endless learning about your partner. To survive an affair is not an overnight or fortnight solution that will make everything better.

You are both learning each other and in the process, it’s good to ask questions subtly about what your spouse wants or is all about. Never let the questions be directly based on the infidelity since it could make the spouse feel mistrusted leading him or her to raise his/her guard.

20. Predict the future

You will be armed with an important skill; foresight, after gathering all the necessary information. You can easily predict what is to happen with the affair or your marriage, by using the acquired knowledge of your spouse’s desires, shortcomings, and needs. Foresee what kind of affairs he is likely to have, mental, emotional or physical. Apply this knowledge to see the future then know how to act on it.

21. Forgive but never forget

This may sound corny but it is significant and factual. A Couple can be together for a long time, leading them to reach a comfort zone. When people relax too much, they easily get bored. To avoid a reoccurrence of another affair, both couples should always remember that it takes work. Never forget why and how the affair happened.

Through this, the couple has fewer chances to experience infidelity in their marriage or relationship. They should both remember that it takes to successfully survive an affair.

By applying the above strategies to survive an affair, the couple is assured to build a more honest, stronger, committed and loving relationship than what they previously had.

 To get over an affair, it needs everyone to be heard, understood and all needs to be met going forward so that there is no fear that it will happen again.


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David Small

is the founder and editor of relationshiptips4u. He is a dating, marriage & relationship coach, speaker, and author. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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