Video: In this video, relationship and sex expert Esther Perel delves into what happens after the end of the affair, when a couple is deciding how (and if) to move forward.
If you’re the person who did the cheating, Perel recommends expressing serious guilt and remorse, and acknowledging what you did to hurt your partner (hopefully you knew that one anyway). Similarly, if your partner feels the need to keep re-visiting the issue, don’t get frustrated and snap at them that you already apologised; it’s your job to continue comforting your partner while they work through their emotions.
For the cheated-upon party, instead of isolating, talk about your feelings with friends and loved ones, and seek meaningful new experiences to help repair your damaged sense of value.
Also, while it’s important to get an understanding of why the cheating happened, Perel recommends sticking to “investigative” questions (“Why did this happen? Were you looking for something that you were no longer getting in our relationship? Did you think of our children, or of me?”) versus “detective” questions that just address the hurtful, gory details of the affair (“Where and how often did it happen?”).
Ultimately, the goal is to determine if you can heal and your relationship can come back together after an affair, into what Perel calls “a second marriage with the same person”.