Affairs: The Death of a Relationship?


“Honestly, it is safe to talk openly about affairs. It saves lives and marriages to do so.”.

So stated Frank Pittman in his book, “Private Lives: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy”. That said, there is perhaps no bigger change in a relationship than the period after an affair is discovered.

Affairs are a Seismic Wake-Up Call in Your Relationship

However, the standard initial response is often to reach for the nuclear button and “go ballistic”. As such, many couples never get further than the initial crisis that the affair creates, and choose to leave their relationship,wounded and with the relationship ripped apart. It doesn’t need to be this way!  Indeed, the road to recovery is richly paved with opportunities to see the depths of meaning in your relationship with your partner that you were probably unaware.

How is this Possible?

First you need to feel in a place of emotional safety and you make an agreement together not to make any immediate decisions about the relationship. You recognise that it is a moment for you to address the painful impacts of the affair on the relationship and also a time to allow the powerful emotions to vent. Furthermore, you need to recognise that affairs cause an erotic injury and that this needs to be dealt with in your erotic lives. Reclaiming your sex life is central to relationship recovery.

” Why would otherwise sane people – people who buy insurance, who stop at traffic lights, who brush after every meal – risk everything in their lives for a furtive moment of sex?” Pittman

Don’t Lose it in the Detail of the Affair

Trying to reconnect intimately is very tough and can feel like pouring salt on an open wound. Being able to deal with the insecurity and uncertainty of this painful time is the essence of allowing yourself to reconnect emotionally. If you spend most of your time looking at the detail of the affair: the Who, How, What, Where, When that is often where you end up – stuck in the detail. Allowing yourself to let some of this go is important in the healing process.

Successfully working through the emotions is linked to deep attunement between you and your partner. It allows the difficult questions to be asked and answers to be given and heard – such as why the affair happened and its meaning to each of you. Even exploring what your partner might have learned about him or herself. And how it felt for them to betray you whilst at the same time as they were getting some of their needs met is where you can rediscover yourselves at deep level of intimacy.

Betrayal: Beyond Anger, Guilt and Shame

Tapping into your partners erotic needs and desires and being able to reveal your own is where a new passion can be born: one rich in sexual energy which can grow from the ashes. Seeking or granting forgiveness is not the whole answer; you will only achieve this when you have re-engaged intimately and erotically with your partner.


Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.


Private Lies:Infidelity and Betrayal of Intimacy; Pittman, F.; (1990), Norton.
This is a classic book on infidelity. Very useful.

Counseling Today has some interesting articles on relationship.

More resources can be found on Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy Couples page:Couples Counselling Resources

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