The wedding day is always like a fairy tale. The bride looks amazing and the groom cleans up nicely. They exchange their vows, showing the people around them how much love they share. They dance, they eat, they drink, they celebrate. It’s an incredible day for most couples; one to remember for the rest of their lives together.
The wedding day is enchanting, but it’s life lived in a harmonious bubble. To quote Brad Paisley, “It’s easy to take forever for granted with tin cans tied to your car.” The trials and tribulations await outside the bubble of the weekend of the weddings activities.
All couples experience highs and lows as they walk through life together once they transition from bride and groom to husband and wife. It’s inevitable. The list of things that could happen to a happy couple is long and unpredictable, but some missteps and mistakes are more common.
One particular event that shakes the foundation of most any marriage is infidelity. It happens to a good amount of lifelong partnerships, but each couple reacts to it differently. Some stay together, some part ways, some do a little bit of both.
The rest of this article will be focused on those that choose to stick it out and what can be done to make it work. A marriage is built on trust and honesty, and infidelity takes a bulldozer to both of these. With trust and honesty getting knocked out, anxiety gladly fills the void. In each section that follows I’ll offer up some advice to curb that anxiety and ultimately help bring back the trust and honesty that is necessary for a long and healthy marriage.
“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you.”
When I first heard the quote above, I found it to be a little condescending to the person who had been wronged. Like, “Oh really? It will make me feel better when I forgive this jerk for what they did?”
As it turns out, yes, yes it does. Forgiving the person that has done you wrong removes a burden that you weren’t aware you were carrying. The whole time that you were cursing your wife or your husband, you were holding onto tension, anger, and frustration. By forgiving someone–and I mean authentically forgiving them–you are releasing that negative energy from yourself.
If you want to continue your relationship with the person you love and avoid the anxiety that is inevitable after an affair, forgiveness is essential. The storm of anger, distrust, and frustration exacerbates your anxiety and will turn you into an unfamiliar version of yourself. Lift the burden and forgive your partner if you want to live a less anxious life moving forward.
Open door…ahem…Open phone policy
Our cell phones have become an extra appendage at this point, but they can be a tiny little storage space of secrets; at least they can be perceived as such. If you or your partner has stepped out on the relationship, but want to fix the situation, there can’t be passwords or locks on each others phones. You should keep them out in the open and use them freely in front of each other to avoid any shady implications.
Let me make one thing clear here: I’m not saying that this becomes open season for going through each other’s texts, Tweets, and Facebook messages when they’re not looking. That’s not healthy at all.
I’m suggesting that you both do away with password protection and stepping away for your phone calls as a sign of good faith. It can help to repair the broken trust and decrease the amount of anxiety for the party who’s been cheated on.
Learn to meditate
When trying to repair a relationship after a bout of infidelity, not only do you need to work on the relationship itself, you need to work on you. If you were the person that was stepped out on, you need to find an outlet to relieve your anxiety that doesn’t depend on the person you’re with.
I’ve found meditation to be an excellent treatment for anxiety in all forms. It forces you to sit still, focus on your breath, and work on healing yourself. It’s not a quick fix strategy to your anxiety and pain, but it as an amazing long term solution. If you make it a daily practice, for just about 10 minutes a day, you’ll find that you will be more mindful and aware of your emotions as you move through your day.
The gift of mindfulness that you give yourself is a worthy combatant to the stress and anxiety that is likely paired with the work that you’re putting into your marriage. Download a Timer app on your smartphone and you’ll have access to thousands of guided meditations that can help you get started. I promise you it will be worth it.
This advice seems taboo to some, but it is essential to your long term relationship success after an affair. The objective advice and thoughts that a mental health professional can bring into your lives can alter how both of you see your relationship moving forward.
Having the extra set of eyes on your situation can also give you perspective that relieves some of your anxiety about everything. They can tell you what they’re seeing given the information and provide feedback about how you’re feeling and why you might be feeling that way. Anxiety is nothing more than the fear of something that could happen. A counselor can teach how to see your relationship for what it currently is and how to reframe your mind to not get caught up in worry and anxious thoughts.
Like I said before, affairs and infidelity strike the foundation of trust and honesty that is the foundation of a strong relationship. From the ashes of that action, anxiety is bound to arise. If you truly want to make your marriage last in the most healthy way possible, use the tactics listed here to ease your anxiety and repair the most meaningful relationship in your life.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.