Midlife affairs are common. Roughly forty percent of my midlife crisis cases are about working through the repercussions of a midlife affair. Just the fear of an affair can ironically destroy a relationship. Even worse most people aren’t prepared to deal with the aftermath of an affair. The turmoil of emotions between you and your partner creates a blizzard of conflicting problems. Let’s go through and help you pull together some answers for your most challenging moment ahead of you now.
Affairs have two sides, The person in the affair and the partner. This article is written to help the partner. If you are within an affair then start with this article: I’m in an affair. Be careful how you approach your partner, you are each in a very different state of mind. It’s all too easy to push too hard at a moment when your relationship is most fragile.
How Long Does the Affair Last?
A midlife affair typically lasts between 3 months to two years. Here are the numbers I see from my personal experience in helping people
- Roughly 1/3rd of these affairs tend to be short term. A moment of weakness which I use to help two people learn and repair their lives.
- Another third will be more intense but still, burn out roughly around 7 to 9 months of time.
- I find that 90% of midlife affairs will fail over two years time.
How Should I Approach the Affair?
You should first pause.
Often directly confronting the affair will do the exact opposite of your intentions and cause more problems. A midlife affair might seem to be the main problem for you to solve in a relationship breakdown. Ironically an affair is the symptom of deeper problems within a marriage. If you take a step back to focus on problems that led to the affair, it becomes possible to work in a nonconfrontational manner which has a better chance of repairing your relationship. When working with a person, I first address any issues of pain, emotional turmoil, and broken communication structures. Often just a fear of an affair causes overreaction and overly aggressive repair attempts. A light approach is most successful in dealing with affairs.
The second step is to avoid bad advice.
When you ask friends for advice, the advice you will get is what they would do in this situation. The biggest problem is that they’re not you and are in a different state of mind. Most advice from other people will not fit your timing nor situation and will cause more problems for you.
Even worse, most of the cultural common sense advice you have been taught in life is wrong (too confrontational, judgmental and not flexible) and creates more conflict. The average person isn’t prepared for dealing with being cheated upon by their partner.
Don’t underestimate the finesse you will need to approach this time. The fact is, once you are reading this, it means you have entered a difficult situation, with many consequences that will affect the rest of your life.
The third step is to get some experienced help.
It takes skill, deep patience and kindness to work thru the complexities of a midlife affair gracefully. Since you will likely be in deep emotional turmoil, finesse will be hard to achieve on your own. As a result, an experienced guide is often the advocate you will need to help you navigate the, all too often, counter-intuitive choices required to move through the overall process ahead of you.