Surviving An Affair Involves Forgiveness & Rebuilding Trust
Research studies show that 41% of marriages have been affected by either a physical or emotional affair. Some marriages do end up in divorce but many marriages can overcome and survive an affair.
Most people don’t really go out looking for an affair. It just sort of happens. It could be a co-worker or a friend of the opposite sex that a spouse turns to during a bad patch in his or her own marriage. This new relationship can become so exhilarating that he/she doesn’t seem to be able to stop. They start sneaking off to be together and sharing things together that they don’t share with their spouse or that they used to share with their spouse.
Marriages often become so overwhelmed with kids, career, and household responsibilities that the couple loses that feeling of being in love that they felt before they married. The affair sparks that “being in love” feeling and the adoration that they used to feel from their own marriage partner before the marriage became routine or difficult. Eventually though, something happens that causes the affair to come to light.
The key to a marriage surviving an affair lies in the couples’ good marital history and both spouses willingness to try to make it work. If you marriage is going to survive, both of you must feel that the marriage is worth saving and that there is still some love left. Often times the spouse that cheated will admit that he/she still loves their spouse. The spouse that was not involved in the affair will likely have a difficult time dealing with the feeling of betrayal and loss of trust. It will take time and work to rebuild the trust and respect that a marriage relationship requires.
In order for your marriage to survive an infidelity, it will require forgiveness, rebuilding trust and respect and love. That is a lot of rebuilding, which will not come easily or immediately. Rebuilding means regaining trust. The partner that cheated must show that they clearly understand that they have betrayed their partner’s trust and hurt them deeply and they are willing to change and work to earn back their trust. The partner that has been betrayed will need a lot of proof that the partner that committed the infidelity is reliable and safe to love again before they will be able to trust them.
The affair has to end. There is no way to continue to see or be around the person that you had an affair with and restore your marriage. Cut off the relationship completely. You must take full responsibility for your actions and choices.
Don’t try to do this alone. Find friends, a support group or a counselor that can come alongside of you and that you can open up to and share your feelings with. You need a safe haven to work through your feelings with and that is not your spouse.
Stop recycling the problem. The affair happened. Continuously rehashing the affair will only escalate the hurt and pain and not move you toward a resolution. While neither of you will forget the affair, you don’t need to drag it into the present at every opportunity.
Forgive your partner. Forgiveness does not mean condoning your partner’s infidelity. It means you are not holding it against your partner and holding it over their heads as ammunition for the rest of your relationship. The partner that committed the infidelity must work hard to rebuild that bond of trust that has been broken. Do not lie, hide anything but be completely open and honest with your partner.
Set and respect Boundaries. For both partners, this will be a long healing journey.
Give your partner time and space to vent their feelings. You have deeply wounded your partner, so it is natural that they react with pain and rage. While they work through that, you need to continue to apologize and be compassionate and understanding with your spouse. Provide them with affection, attention and appreciation every day. In short, love them through the healing process.
Be Dependable and keep your promise. Call when you say you will call. Be home when you say you will be home. Do what you say you are gong to do. NO lies. No excuses. No exceptions.
An affair does not have to be the end of your marriage. Your marriage can survive, the trust can be rebuilt and your bond of love may even grow to be stronger than ever.Learn more about our Couples Therapy Exercises