Frequently asked questions
Q. I’ve just discovered that my partner is been unfaithful. How can I ever come to terms with what has happened, let alone get over it?
There are few things more upsetting than discovering that your partner is having an affair. You are not only coping with the pain and anger but also the sense that your partner is a stranger. How could someone you love, and thought that you knew, treat you like this? Not only do you have no idea how to get through the next few days but your whole future seems blank: How can you ever trust your partner again? Don’t panic. Millions upon millions of ordinary men and women have trodden the same path and come out the other end with not only their love restored but a significantly stronger and better relationship. My aim is to help you become one of the winners from adultery; it might sound strange but you can turn this from the worst thing that ever happened to your relationship into one of the best.
Q. How can anything positive come out of something so painful?
Infidelity might be a terrible crisis but the Chinese symbol for crisis is made up of two words: danger and opportunity. At the moment, you will be only too aware of the danger. My aim is to open your eyes to the opportunity. Infidelity turns life upside down and makes you question everything. The fear that it could all happen again, shines a spotlight on all the murky corners of your relationship and provides the impetus to change. Sometimes clients moan: ‘I just want my old life back.’ That’s not possible, but if you seize on the opportunity part of crisis, you can find a deeper, more durable and ultimately better relationship.
Q. How common is adultery?
Almost one in five couples who come to my marital counselling office are dealing with the fall-out from an affair. In fact, it is the fourth most common reason for seeking my help. According to the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project, 55 per cent of the adult population have committed adultery at some point; while Kinsey’s ground breaking research in forties and fifties America found that 26 per cent of married women and 50 per cent of married men had cheated on their spouses. Subsequent research has produced similar findings. When you throw in all the couples who have been living together or dating, the numbers are even greater. At times, it feels like a tidal wave of misery, betrayal and hurt is flooding my therapy office.
Q. Who is this book for?
It is mainly aimed at the Discoverers of adultery – because they are generally most hurt and most in need of answers – but each chapter has a box addressed specifically to the Discovered. (The tone of my book is compassionate because few people set out to have an affair.) My hope is that couples will share the book and find the exercises provide a bridge to understanding each other better. If you are the third party in the affair triangle, there is less of direct benefit. However, I hope this book will provide an insight into the dynamics of adultery and if your affair has ended to help in the healing process.
Q. What are the seven steps from discovery to recovery?
When working through my recovery programme, face-to-face with my clients, this is the idea that people find the most helpful. Whatever happens, whether your partners stays or goes, whether you decided to fight for your relationship or run for the hills everybody goes through clearly defined stages. By setting out the road map, I aim to give you a sense of what made be up ahead but keep you focused on the main issues and main decisions at each stage. This will not only reduce the panic (which is natural after discovering an affair) but stop you making mistakes which make recovery harder.
Q. How do I know if my relationship is worth saving?
It all depends on what kind of affair your partner has had. There are eight different types including: Accidental, Cry for Help, Retaliatory, Self-medication, Exploratory, Tripod (long-term with a lot of emotion invested in the affair partner) Don Juan or Donna Juana (multiple affairs) and Exit. The last three are the most serious and hardest to recover from. However, any affair will climb the infidelity ladder and become more serious if not discovered. The book has more details about each type, how to recognise them and tailored advice on what to do next.
Q. What else is covered?
It is not always a straight-forward journey from discovery to recovery. So I also cover diversions, derailments and dead-ends. Some of the questions I covered : What if the Golden Window has passed? What should I tell the children about the affair? What if my partner wants the package (home, children and security) but not me? What if your partner has left? Does this mean the end of hope? Other subjects covered include: Gay relationships and infidelity, coping with a yo-yo partner (shuttles between partner and third party) and children born from affairs.
Q. Where else can I get help?
Go to the ‘Ask Andrew’ button on this Website. There is section about ‘Adultery’ where I have posted questions from people struggling to come to terms with infidelity and my suggestions on how to move forward. I also recommend reading another of my books: ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you: Seven steps to saving your relationship’ This will explain how love changes over time, why some relationships get derailed and has lots of exercises for improving your communication. It works hand-in-hand with ‘How can I ever trust you again? to provide a comprehensive understanding of how relationships work and how to step back from the brink.
Q. When does it come out?
The book is now out and Psychologies is publishing an extracts in their next edition which outlines the Seven Stages that everyone travels through from discovery to recovery.