I have received enough questions from people over the years asking about how to get past an affair that I wanted to write about it. There are so many intricate details of your personal relationship that factor into this decision that it is challenging to make generalizations but I will provide a list of five general steps to help you determine your best course of action in this moment.

So you’ve just learned your partner was having an affair. Whether you suspected all along and just received confirmation, or you were suddenly confronted with irrefutable evidence, you are likely hurt, disappointed, angry, and devastated. These emotions are flooding your brain with chemicals, making it difficult for you to think clearly.

Steps for Recovery:

1. Calm down so you can think clearly.

Research shows that when you are in a highly emotional state, you are unable to engage in higher order thinking. Your brain goes into reflexive mode, allowing you to either fight, flight or freeze. You need to gain control of these emotions by letting them go so you can be intentional about the decisions you need to make.

2. Get Clear about Your Options.

I always say there are three options when experiencing relationship problems—you can change it, accept it, or leave it.

a. If you want things to change, there are two ways to go about attempting this. You can attempt to change your partner into doing what you want him or her to do. Or, you can attempt to change the situation by changing yourself. You can decide to do something different, change your perceptions, or change your expectations.

b. If you decide to accept it, you need to recognize what happened, know your partner is not perfect, and then decide to move on. This option means you have given up the idea you are going to change the situation. So, again, two options exist: you accept the affair as a mistake and together decide to rebuild your relationship or you recognize your partner may always be unfaithful but you get enough other benefits from your relationship you decide you can accept infidelity.

c. If you want to leave, you can leave emotionally or physically. Emotional leaving involves staying involved on a day-to-day basis but having little to no emotional investment in the relationship. You have built a wall to protect yourself and you don’t let your partner in. The other option is to leave the relationship physically. This means you end the relationship and each go your own separate ways.

3. Once you make a decision about the direction you want to go, know that in most cases it does not have to be a permanent decision. You may choose to try changing your partner’s behavior and your own, and then later decide to leave the relationship. Or you may decide to leave the relationship emotionally, and later invest in changing your own perceptions and behavior. There are any number of possibilities.

4. After you make your decision, stay true to your desires. Don’t allow other people to sway your thinking. Remember, they are not you. They have not lived your life. They may not have the same value system you have. They can only know what’s best for them, not you. Only you can truly know whats right for you so once you get clear, stay true to your inner knowing.

5. It is always helpful to get the unbiased support you need to intentionally, consciously implement your chosen option. You may have many people who will be willing to support you in their way but their way may not be the unbiased support you need. Find someone who will support you in following through on what you want, who doesn’t already have preconceived ideas about what might be best for you. A good life coach or counselor can help you move through these steps.

Remember, if you find yourself in the situation of feeling betrayed by your life partner, you are not at the mercy of his or her actions, or your emotions. You can make conscious, intentional decisions to move yourself in the direction you most want to go.

Author's Bio: 

Kim Olver is a life coach and public speaker who has a graduate degree in counseling, is a National Certified Counselor and a licensed professional counselor in two states. She has worked in the helping profession since 1982 and has spent her entire life helping people get along better with the important people in their lives. Kim works with couples, parents and children, and individuals seeking to improve their lives.