Infidelity is one of the worst things that can happen in a marriage. The cheating spouse has let go temporarily of their marriage vow to be faithful to their partner, and has sought pleasure or even love outside of the marriage. Some affairs are one-time things, but others go on for weeks or even years.
The other spouse is left to think what they have done wrong, and to question the future. Is this it for them? Is the marriage over? Is there anything left to rebuild?
Of course, there are many different ways to commit infidelity, and that may or may not factor into the spouses trying to work things out. There are typically two types of affairs—emotional and physical. Sometimes a spouse will do one or the other, or both.
One of the biggest issues of the event is the loss of trust. If the spouse is capable of doing this, can they be trusted again? Can love exist when the trust has been broken? Many times, an affair is the result of other issues in the marriage, but sometimes even when things are good, infidelity still happens.
The good news is, many couples are able to survive after infidelity. Though not an easy process, if both spouses are committed to each other, they can do it together. Here are some tips on how to survive cheating in your marriage.
Getting over the initial shock of the affair
Maybe you found out on your own—you had suspected something was going on, and you caught your husband or wife in a lie. Or perhaps your spouse has decided to confess to cheating on your before you find out some other way. However you find out, even if you have had an inkling that something has been going on, just hearing the words will be a shock to you.
How do you get over that? Before in your marriage, you identified yourself as the spouse of your husband or wife. Never did you think you’d be “that couple” with an unfaithful partner. And yet, here you are. Acceptance is one of the hardest parts of the process. It means facing that your marriage has not turned out the way you had envisioned it.
Which details do you need to know?
After an affair occurs, the other spouse may have some questions. Who did their spouse cheat with? How many times? Do they feel love for them? Why did they do it? The spouse should write down questions and take a moment to figure out if knowing the answers to these questions will help ease their mind or make things worse. Be honest with yourself. Will knowing details be better or not? If so, then the offending spouse should answer your questions. It is a chance for both spouses to be open with each other.
Starting marriage therapy
If you both are set on working things out, then you need a third person with experience in this situation to guide you through it. You each will face things you may not realize will come to the surface. Denial. Anger. Bitterness. Resentment. Loss of respect for yourself or your spouse. Blame. Guilt. So many emotions can be hard to deal with, especially when each of you are experiencing so many at any given time. A good marriage therapist can help.
Take your time and find a marriage therapist you can both be comfortable working with. Ask the therapist other couples they have helped in similar situations, and if they feel your marriage has hope of working out. Realize that things won’t wrap up in a few visits. This is a long-term commitment.
Letting go of the past
One of the hardest things to do will be letting go of the past. But how do you forgive yourself or your spouse for this level of mistrust? First, spouses need to accept that this has happened. No more denial. Then, they have to work on forgiveness. At first, the thought of it may not feel possible. Don’t expect to just be able to grant forgiveness all at once. It’s a process—sometimes a long process. The only thing you have to do at the beginning is be open to forgiveness. Believe that you can just start the process.
Rebuilding trust with your spouse
This is where the big time work really starts. If you both truly want the marriage to work after infidelity has occurred, then the rebuilding process must begin. But how? Things can’t be the same as they were before, can they?
Sometimes spouses get so caught up in wanting to make their marriage to be “like it was before,” they miss real opportunities for growth and change. Don’t wish for old times. Hope for new times. Yes, even better times in your marriage. That belief will be hard at first, but if you can both have that thought process, then anything is possible.
Start small. Even just day by day. Rebuild trust as you deal with day to day issues. Show that you can be there for each other. As each spouse shows up, emotionally and physically, things can go in the right direction and maybe even develop into something even better than before.
Avoiding divorce as you rebuild your marriage
It’s impossible to truly “divorce-proof” your marriage, but when two people are committed to their relationship, amazing things can happen. Divorce is less likely to be on the table when both people are happy and having their needs met. That means putting your spouse’s needs above your own, but also being honest with your spouse about what you truly need. It means being loving and accepting love. Show each other each day that your marriage is more important than anything else.
Infidelity in marriage is a big deal. This couple, who made a promise to each other on their wedding day, is now on shaky ground. One of the spouses has gone outside the marriage and had an affair. While many marriages don’t survive infidelity, there are many that do. When both partners are committed to getting past infidelity and rebuilding the marriage, with a lot of hard work and a lot of love they can do it together.