Humans are imperfect. Since marriage joins two humans for life, it is also imperfect. There’s no denying that people will make mistakes within their marriage.
There will be fights. There will be disagreements. There will be days when, as much you love the person you’re with, you don’t particularly like them or how they’re behaving. It’s natural. It comes with the ebb and flow of every marriage or relationship. Overall, these moments of discontent with your partner won’t end your marriage.
Infidelity, however, is a much different story. Affairs and unfaithful behavior are polarizing subjects in the world of marriage. Chances are that you feel very strongly about it, whatever your stance may be.
You may hold the act of marriage as sacred; a bond that should never be broken no matter the circumstance. Therefore, regardless of any infidelity, you would choose to stay married and work through the issues in house.
Or…you may see the act of infidelity as a complete betrayal of the vows recited on your wedding day. This would lead you to likely leave your spouse if they were to be unfaithful to you.
There isn’t much middle ground on the subject. This is because infidelity is extremely damaging and traumatic. Whichever stance you take, you’re attempting to save something: either to save the marriage or save the dignity of the individual wronged by the behavior.
Let’s say that you opt to save the marriage. What can you do? How can you change the dynamic that has settled into the relationship? Whom can you talk to, to help the emotional wounds mend? How long will it take to get back to normal?
You need a gameplan. You need some advice that you can lean on. Luckily, you you have come to the correct place
Find a marriage counselor or therapist…Fast
These professionals play the role of confidant, referee and safe space provider. You can’t try to wade the troubled waters of post-infidelity marriage on your own. It’s no secret that either one or both of you were unhappy within your relationship, leading to the unfaithful behavior. Allow the objective counsel of a therapist to see you through this trying time. They will offer insights to help you heal and can be a consistent form of support in such shaky times.
Get the truth in the open
Within the safe space that your therapist can provide, be sure to get all the facts of the affair on the table. If you are the adulterer, answer any questions that your spouse might have. If you are the person that was cheated on, ask as many questions as you need. Insecurity and anxiety are an inevitable byproduct of an affair, but by getting the ugly truth out in the open, both parties can begin to build up from the rubble of the relationship. If there are secrets or topics that stay undiscussed, the anxiety will skyrocket. You may not want to know all the dirty secrets, but you probably need to if you’re the victim of adultery. You can’t get peace of mind from something you know little about. Ask the questions that you need to hear answers to.
Practice forgiveness and patience in equal measure
If you and your spouse choose to stay together after infidelity strikes, you need to work towards a place of forgiveness.
If you are the adulterer, show unlimited remorse. If you’re not truly sorry about what you’ve done, you don’t deserve to be in the relationship.
If you are the victim of the affair, you need to forgive your spouse bit by bit. You don’t have to wake up the next day and wipe the slate clean. That’s unnatural and unhealthy. But if you want to eventually get back to some semblance of a loving marriage, then forgiveness needs to occur.
As the process towards forgiveness carries on, patience needs to be practiced. You can’t expect to experience infidelity one day and be fine the next. If your spouse has cheated, they need to understand that you will need time to forgive. If you are the adulterer in your marriage, you need to give your spouse the respect, time, and space that they ask for.
Forgiveness can’t be rushed or forced. Be patient during the time that it takes to get there.
It will never be the same
You can’t choose to stay in a marriage after an unfaithful act in hopes that it will “get back to how it was”. It’s not realistic or possible. Infidelity is a major disruption not only to the relationship, but to the two people’s individual lives. You will both be different people once the dust has settled.
Trying to hold on in hopes of rekindling what once was is a fool’s errand, causing you to waste many years waiting for something that can never come back. Your only hope is to work towards something that resembles the love that was shared, but from a different perspective. Before the infidelity, everything was fresh, new, and untainted. It’s easy to see how being cheated on could leave someone jaded, and there be some remnants of it that lingers after the fact.
You’ll never be able to hit a rest button and start over. You will, however, be able to accept the reality of your relationship and agree to move forward in a positive fashion.
Infidelity is one of the scariest things that a couple can come to face. It’s not impossible to work through that deceit and find a way to love each other again. But it will take time. It will take patience. It will take hard work. It will take finding a counselor that help guide you in the healing process.
When this nightmare of unfaithful behavior becomes reality, know that you have options. If you want to stay and fight for the person you love, just be ready to fight like hell.