Surviving infidelity in marriage: Big Question is it possible?
Believe me, surviving infidelity is difficult but not impossible. Your marriage can survive an affair! When you discover that your partner has had an affair, you feel as though your whole world has caved in.
The shocking news erodes every shred of trust you had in your spouse.
It destroys the rock solid foundation of the marriage because it calls into question all of the Big Seven Bond Builders – love, honesty, trust, integrity, respect, loyalty and your sexual intimacy.
It evokes strong feelings of shock, uncontrollable anger, sadness, and betrayal.
The “wronged” partner will experience self-doubt and doubt in the strength of the marriage. They may have no hope for the future of the marriage.
While infidelity in marriage, is one of the greatest destroyers, it can also be overcome, and can even result in a stronger relationship.
I’m sure if you are the “wronged” partner and are reading this, you clearly doubt that I am correct, but it’s true, if the two of you work hard to restore and build trust.
It will take a long time – longer that you think – and it will be hard work, but it can be done.
Statistically, marriages in which the person who had the affair “comes clean” are more likely to survive than marriages where the “wronged” person discovers the affair.
That makes sense when you think about it.
If the person who had the affair (let’s call them the “strayer”) tells their spouse about the affair, they maintain a thread of honesty and integrity – a tiny foundation upon which the marriage can be rebuilt.
If the “wronged” person discovers the affair, the attempt to deceive was continuing, and the road back to trust will be longer and harder.
Some marriages won’t survive infidelity, but many will if both partners are willing to work long and hard on restoring the “Big even” bond building traits that will strengthen their relationship.
Let me say it again for emphasis. The road back to a solid, trusting relationship is a long and difficult one. It will be fraught with anguish, sorrow, tears, sadness, doubts, fears, embarrassment, and anger.
The two of you will need to work hard, and work together, on finding out why the affair happened and resolving those issues while working hard to rebuild trust.
Professional counseling can be extremely helpful for couples recovering from infidelity.
While the couple will need to do the hard work together every day and all day, a therapist can help you understand the reasons for the situation and help map out a recovery plan.
Now, read this if it is your situation and even if it’s not.
“What if my spouse is cheating on me?”
It can be hard for someone on the outside to understand the reasons for wanting to save a marriage in spite of infidelity.
You will probably get a lot of friends and family telling you not to - if you have shared the information with them. But the most important consideration is whether you want the marriage to last, not what others think.
If your partner is cheating on you and you know about it, but still want to work things out, then there has to be a big injection of honesty.
The cheating will have to be addressed, brought out into the light, in order to get resolution and healing and move on to other issues in the marriage.
Betrayals such as cheating are like injuries. When you were a child and scraped your knee on the playground, more than anything you wanted to protect that injury.
You wanted to cover it, hide it from the adults, and not let anyone touch it. But the loving adults around you could not let you do that.
They had to allow you to hurt a little more in the short run, by washing, medicating, and bandaging your knee, in order for you to heal more completely in the long run.
When you have been hurt through another’s infidelity, it does not work to hide it away and hope the hidden wound will heal on its own.
You have to prepare yourself to talk to your spouse, lovingly share your hurt and fears, and express your commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Today, is the day your marriage changes!
You Can Save Your Marriage (Even If Only You Want It) Read How!
Most therapists work from the assumption that, if only one person wanted to work on the relationship, it was impossible to fix. Marriage Crisis should not be approached that way...
Instead this approach works like an algebra equation. If one side of the equation is changed, the other side must change!
Incredibly, this approach achieved an 89.7% success rate. . . even if only one spouse starts the process! (Findings based on surveys. Individual results can vary.)
You can then ask for your spouse’s help in solving the problem. But don’t assuming you have all the answers yourself.
You may also benefit from participating in some individual counseling to help with your healing process.
If you and your spouse are in couple’s therapy, then ideally you would have a different person to be your personal counselor.
Nothing about surviving infidelity in marriage is likely to be easy, but just like washing the dirt and blood off of a scraped knee when you were 6 years old, it is for the best.
Recovering or Surviving an affair
Step one of recovery is to stop the affair if it is still going on. This requires the “strayer” to be dedicated to completely ending the affair and committing to the marriage.
There is no room for doubt about wanting that, and there’s no room for the third party in the recovery.
The “strayer” needs to be forthright with the other person, explaining that they are committed to saving their marriage and as a result will be cutting all ties with them.
All ties means all contact – no more phone calls, texts, meeting for coffee or any form of being “just friends”. If it were possible to be “just friends”, then the affair would not have happened.
The third party needs to be completely cut off for two reasons. The first is obvious – to remove all temptation from the “strayer”.
The second reason is equally, if not more, important – the “wronged” partner needs to be able to believe, beyond any doubt, that the affair has ended.
This is the beginning of the long road back to trust, and the “strayer” will need to do whatever is necessary to build trust.
Making a complete break may be easy if the affair was short and based more on circumstance than attraction, or if the third party resides in a different town.
If the third party is a family member, friend or colleague, however, it may be far more complicated.
What lengths you need to go to will depend on what the “wronged” partner needs.
It is possible that to cut all ties might mean moving, closing off all contact with a family member or changing your job.
Regardless of the degree of difficulty, it is critical for the “wronged” person to see and believe that the affair is completely over and will not be re-started.
Step two is to put the “wronged” person in the driver’s seat, so to speak.
Recovery of the relationship will depend completely on their needs being met so that trust can be rebuilt.
They will be riding an extreme emotional roller coaster for a while, and it’s important that they be allowed to feel and express their feelings.
Repression of the emotions would be very unhealthy both for the person and for the marriage, so it’s important for both parties to meet the needs of the wronged person.
Now that the “wronged” partner is in the driver’s seat, their needs will dictate what happens during the healing process.
If you are the “wronged” person, you should describe to your partner your feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal – whatever you’re feeling.
Obviously, since the goal is to recover a healthy and strong marriage, you should be sharing your feelings in a non-hysterical, factual way without reprisal.
Revenge and retaliation have no place in the healing process, but it is important for the “strayer” to understand how much you have been hurt and what it will take to recover your trust.
Sharing your feelings and fears will give the “strayer” an opportunity to reassure and comfort you. The “wronged” partner may also want to ask questions about the affair.
This is a tricky and painful area for both of you, but it’s important for the “wronged” person to be allowed to ask anything they want and to receive honest answers.
The “strayer” will need to swallow their pride and embarrassment and answer completely honestly, otherwise the deception will continue and trust won’t build.
If the “wronged” person wants details, and is prepared to deal with their own emotional response to them, then it is not the “strayer’s” place to withhold information, even if they think they might be protecting the other person from painful information.
The role of the “strayer” in the healing process is to be remorseful, honest and reassuring.
At times it may feel like you’re doing penance, but it’s critical to regain your partner’s trust in any way possible.
This will mean being honest at all times and in every way. It will mean being patient and understanding - listening empathetically and reassuring constantly.
It will mean spending more time and attention on your partner during the healing process. And of course it means committing to never having another affair and meaning it!
The “strayer” should be far more attentive and reassuring to their partner during the recovery phase.
This includes multiple daily expressions of love and reassurance as well as spending much more than the usual amount of time together.
It means phoning to say you’ll be late, even if it’s only 5 minutes late, so that the “wronged” person is not left to wonder and panic about where you are and what you’re doing.
It might also include taking a vacation together if you can manage it. Patience, honesty and reassurance are critical during this time.
It will ultimately be the “wronged” person’s choice whether or not to forgive their partner.
Forgiveness is not critical to staying together, but it is critical to rebuilding a loving, trusting relationship.
Once the healing has begun and trust is being built, it is important to examine the reasons for the affair and try to eliminate them from your relationship.
While it might be tempting to just assume that the “strayer” is weak and succumbed to temptation, the reason for the affair is probably deeper than that.
If you can identify what has led to the affair, it is possible to make changes to eliminate the reason(s) and avoid repeating the problem.
Reasons for having an affair can range from boredom, through lack of sex in the marriage, to a last-ditch effort to get your partner’s attention.
If these issues are identified and repaired, it is possible to end up with a stronger marriage than you had before the affair.
Again, a professional counselor can be very helpful in creating a safe environment and guiding these discussions.
Once again let’s discuss a situation
“What if I cheated on my spouse?”
In spite of what the movies tell us, cheating is not exclusive to bad people or even bad marriages.
Both men and women are unfaithful for a variety of reasons - loneliness, opportunity, intimacy, anger, sex-drive, impulsivity, attraction, etc. etc. etc.
While the stereotypical case of the commitment-phobic man or the faithless woman can certainly show up in real life, infidelity is usually a lot more complicated than that.
That means that even you, reading a article about how to save your marriage, may be guilty of cheating.
If you have been sexually or even just emotionally unfaithful to your partner but want to save your marriage, the first step should be obvious but isn’t to some: Stop it! The behavior must end.
The cheating must end. Whatever outside relationship you were in must end. You cannot hope to save one relationship while maintaining the alliance that betrayed it.
Of course, this is not as simple as it may sound because not all affairs are characterized by the anonymity of Adult Friend Finder or Ashley-Madison.
You may have had an affair with someone at work, an old friend, or someone close to your partner. Regardless, you truly must choose between the two.
How you go about this will be up to you, though it may depend on what your spouse needs.
If the “other man” or “other woman” was part of a larger social group or someone from work or school, you and your partner may have to discuss how much of a separation needs to happen.
Should it involve spending less time in a certain activity or even looking for a new job? That is not something someone outside the situation can decide for you.
The pain caused by the infidelity may lead your partner to want the separation from this person to be rather immediate and complete.
Because you were the person who crossed the line with that individual, it is up to you to protect your partner and relationship even if it is awkward, embarrassing, difficult or painful.
In other words you need to understand that surviving infidelity in marriage is not a JOKE.
Do not allow yourself too much leeway on this; if you were capable of remaining “just friends” then the infidelity would not have happened in the first place.
A final consideration is the situation in which you have ended the affair, but you strongly believe your partner did not suspect it. Should you tell your partner or not?
There is not complete agreement among experts.
Some experts feel that disclosing an affair for the sake of honesty but in the absence of other reasons (e,g. healthy and safety, minimizing hurt if the affair may be discovered anyway) is likely to cause unnecessary hurt and damage.
Other maintain that a relationship that is continued on a basis of continued dishonesty cannot be one of true trust and respect. Because a strong part of this question is moral or ethical.
If you put your spouse at risk through unprotected sex or other behaviors related to the affair, then his or her safety comes first.
To be honest there’s a lot to discuss and there’s no end to that discussion. What matters is surviving infidelity in marriage and in most peaceful way possible.
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