An affair does not automatically mean that a marriage or relationship is over. Many times people who love their spouses find themselves in situations they never thought they would be in. A friendly co-worker, a Facebook friend, an ex-lover, or a complete stranger can be the temptation that threatens to destroy your marriage. Many partners who have cheated are in disbelief that THIS is the person they have become. Many love their spouses and cannot figure out why they found themselves going outside of their relationship to have their needs met. Considering these points will assist in your attempts to repair your marriage after your affair.
Face Your Grief, Shame, and Hurt
If you are interested in repairing your marriage after your affair you are probably very familiar with the guilt and shame of your decisions. Some unfaithful spouses fight back in defensiveness and blame when faced with the hurt the affair has caused. Some have been drowning in the pain of their actions and were secretly hoping the affair be revealed so that they can be released from the pain. Very few people will support an unfaithful spouse when an affair is revealed because the actions are difficult to accept. You never thought you would be "that person". You didn't notice the subtle changes in you that made you turn to someone outside of your marriage. Now you want to turn back to your hurting spouse. Acting defensively or blaming your spouse is almost as damaging as the affair itself. Resist the temptation to point the finger at your spouse. Owning up to your actions is a great first step to the healing that needs to occur in your marriage.
Affairs are kept alive in secrets. Revealing all of the secrets of how you deceived your partner is difficult and necessary if you want to rebuild trust. Saving your marriage may mean you will have to tell your spouse about the other bank accounts, how you covered your expenditures, where you were in the night(s) in question, etc. This requires complete transparency in a way that may make you uncomfortable. Know that every secret you tell (particularly if you volunteer it) will be a brick in rebuilding your spouse's trust and faith in you. The rewards may not be immediately apparent but they will have lasting effects. The betrayed partners is dealing with a host of emotions that may look like anger at first, but know this is part of the process in healing your marriage. If you need to better understand what you spouse is going through click here: http://www.reconnectingcolumbus.com/deidres-blog/my-partner-cheatedwhy-cant-i-get-past-it
Find Your "Why"
At this point you have at least considered why you cheated. Your spouse was either emotionally or sexually distant. You didn't feel loved or appreciated in your marriage. You needed to feel alive and find joy in life again. Spouses cheat for many reasons, but not all spouses cheat when they feel this way. When you have decided you want to repair your marriage, blame will destroy those hopes. Yes, it is important that your "why" for cheating is discussed. This discussion must take place when both of you have worked through the pain, resentment, disconnect, and shock of the affair. When first attempting to save your marriage, make mental note of your "why" or discuss it with a trusted friend. Discussing it with your spouse to early could end your marriage. First the two of you must work through the initial shock, disappointment, rage, and hurt. Once a safe space is created in your marriage, healing will come from a "why" conversation.
Build A New Marriage
Your marriage as you knew it is dead. The walls of trust and commitment that have held up your marriage have been destroyed. Both of you are attempting to pick up the pieces of your relationship. Honestly, putting your marriage back together is not an option. You have to build a new one. Building a new marriage means starting over with prior experience. It is making your marriage priority over other things in life. It is learning new ways to be honest, open, and transparent in ways you never were before. This is a time where you are shown your hurt partner's vulnerability and must respond with your own. If you want your marriage to work, you must lay out all of your cards.
"How do I know you will not do this again?" This is a normal question from a hurt spouse who is wanting to trust again but does not know how. This question is a good sign that you are working toward reconciliation. No one can (truthfully) promise they will never cross a boundary that could be considered as cheating. Being honest, volunteering information before being asked, revealing all of the deceit, and conveying your commitment to the marriage will help to provide your hurt partner with the answers they need to this question.
Infidelity is a complex human experience and recovery cannot be contained in a blog post. Many couples assume their marriage is over or are too scared to ask for help because the shame of staying together is too great. Recovery feels impossible when each day seems to present more worry, hurt, and anger. The truth is with focused, committed, feverent perseverance a marriage can recover from infidelity. The irony is that many couples find the affair was a symptom in an already dying marriage and recovering from the affair is the catalyst to creating the marriage they have always dreamed of. Realizing that your marriage is worth the work is the first step to saving it.
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