This is part three of the eight-part series on how to save your marriage after an affair. If you haven’t read the first two parts of the series, the links are below! Before reading Andrew G. Marshalls book, How Can I Ever Trust You Again?: Infidelity: From Discovery to Recovery in Seven Steps (affiliate), I didn’t realize there could be so many different types of affairs. Today we are going to be talking about the “Retaliatory Affair.”
- The Accidental Affair
- The Cry For Help Affair
- The Retaliatory Affair
- The Self-Medication Affair
- The Don Juan and Doña Juna Affair
- The Tripod Affair
- The Exploratory Affair
- The Exit Affair
The Retaliatory Affair
If you’ve come this far, you probably didn’t relate to the other types of affairs like the one you are experiencing as a couple. So let’s see if this type of affair sounds like what’s going on for you.
With retaliatory affairs the goal is revenge, and often these types of affairs are quick. The unfaithful spouse in this scenario might feel justified in having an affair because they feel as though their partner had been neglecting them, or, maybe this affair happened because their partner had the original affair and wanted them to experience the pain they went through. Most often times these affairs are a reaction to an original affair.
Often times, the unfaithful in this situation has been holding in lots of hurt, or not allowing themselves to adequately express their pain, and so they have an affair to deal with those feelings. This type of behavior is the definition of passive aggressive, but this person might not be able to directly confront the issue, hence the passive aggressiveness.
The unfaithful is usually struggling from low self-esteem that might have stemmed from the original affair their partner had, and so by having a retaliatory affair, the unfaithful might think they will accomplish feeling sexy and wanted again when in reality, it’s quite a superficial way to attain those feelings. Often, the feeling won’t be as good because it’s not their partner wanting them and making them feel sexy.
This type of affair is revealed almost instantaneously by the unfaithful who is filled with deep regret. If the unfaithful does not confess, then they leave suggestive signs of the fact that they’ve cheated.
How To Save Your Marriage
If this is the type of affair you’ve experienced or are going through, there are ways to heal. Firstly, acknowledge that revenge can be a normal feeling in reaction to severe pain, but that does not mean a person should act on it. When healing from a retaliatory affair, you either forgive or can try to get back (which, clearly, doesn’t help). Forgiveness takes time and happens in stages. Forgiveness is for you, to let go of the anger, and be able to move forward.
The individual who had a retaliatory affair demonstrated passive-aggressive behavior, so that is something to look out for when trying to heal from this affair. Passive aggressiveness just means an individual struggles to confront issues head on and goes about addressing the issue in an unhealthy way. So when resolving issues, if the individual gives in too quickly, or just simply agrees, try to engage them in expressing the feelings they might be hiding and afraid to show. Engage in open conversation, which can be a big challenge if there have been affairs on both sides, but make sure you both are honestly communicating, that is the key to starting the healing.
In the rare cases, the unfaithful having a retaliatory affair will keep the affair secret. If this is the case, this type of affair has a way of becoming an even bigger monster by turning into a Tripod Affair or Self-Medication Affair. So do be aware of that.
Only you and your partner can decide whether you will make it through this as a couple. Usually, couples can find strength and work through this affair, or they often feel hopeless, and communication continues to crumble until there is nothing left in the relationship. I always recommend couples therapy if an affair has taken place. There are times where couples are not equipped to manage situations without help, and this is one of those times.
Given that communication is so important in healing after an affair, you can subscribe to get my two-part series on communication with 7-tips (one I created myself that I use in my marriage daily), or, sign up for the waiting list for my course on how psychology can benefit relationships. In the course, we address some of those root issues, like your childhood, attachment styles, communication patterns, love styles, and more. Save your marriage now, don’t wait.