Adultery occurs in over 1/3 of marriages, according to the website Trustify. If you are part of that unfortunate third, be assured that your marriage can survive adultery. The path towards healing is long and painful, but it is possible to rebuild a trust-filled and fully honest marriage if that is what both of you wish to do.
Here are some tips to survive adultery in a healthy way.
Don’t try to navigate this rocky time alone
Seek professional marriage counseling. Not sure if you want to stay married after discovering your spouse is a cheater? The best way to figure this out is under the guidance of a marriage counselor, someone trained in helping couples who are going through the most painful of times sort out what they want their future to look like. As you contemplate different scenarios, it is worth discussing options in the safe space of a counselor’s office. Adultery is too big of an event to try and figure out a path alone, especially with one of you hurting so deeply. Taking time to unpack the situation with an expert is key to helping you figure out where you go from here.
The adulterous activity must stop. Right now
The first step towards rebuilding trust begins with ending the affair. This has to be done immediately. It doesn’t matter if it was just an internet affair or a real-life adulterous situation. If you are serious about staying married, stop the affair now. If your extra-marital lover continues to email, text or phone you, refuse all contact and, most importantly, tell your spouse about it. Being transparent is part of rebuilding the trust you forfeited when you were cheating.
The cheating spouse must be willing to answer any and all questions the betrayed spouse may have. Now, and in the future. If you were the cheating spouse, sorry, but you don’t get to opt out of this obligation. While it might be painful to have to face your spouse’s questions, this is part of the marriage-healing process. Do not say that you don’t want to talk about it (that won’t make the questions disappear). Do not tell your betrayed spouse that her questions are tiresome or they annoy you. She has the right to know all the facts. She needs to know the what, when, how of it all in order to help her own recovery. Don’t think that not talking about the adultery will help you both get over it faster. Like anything traumatic, betrayal needs to be addressed out in the open in order for the betrayed party to begin feeling whole again.
The adulterers must own what they did
The adulterers must not blame their spouse’s appearance, inattention, lack of sexual interest, or any other perceived fault that might have tempted them to justify their philandering ways. That attitude would not be a healthy way to bring the couple back together. If you were the cheater, you should behave like a grown up and take responsibility for breaking the sacred bonds of marriage. Begin with a heartfelt apology and be prepared to keep apologizing for as long as it takes.
Work on your communications skills
Have your marriage counselor help you acquire better communication skills. As you work your way through this life-changing passage, it will be vital to know how to talk respectfully to each other. Be prepared, however, for some blow-out fights. It is natural that your emotions will take the upper hand, especially at the beginning of your road to marital recover. The point is to know how to move past those incendiary moments and use language that leads you to productive conversations.
Healthy healing from adultery follows a jagged timeline
If you are the one who was cheated, you are going to have days where you wake up and can’t believe that your spouse was intimate with another person. And this is going to set you back to ground zero, again. But trust that as you move forward with open and honest communication, these days will be fewer and fewer. It is natural for the affair to appear to have taken over your lives when you learn of it, but time will help these painful feelings diminish, especially with a partner who remains committed to restoring trust in your marriage.
Surviving infidelity makes a marriage stronger
The open wound can lead to a healthier marriage if first-aid is performed correctly.One thing couples say who have survived adultery and gone on to build a healthier marriage is that the affair helped them speak truthfully to one another for the first time in years. Since there was little to lose, long-held resentments were finally voiced which allowed the committed couple to work on the buried issues. While no one wants to have to confront cheating in a marriage, using this pivotal moment to clean house and fall back in love with each other is one way of turning lemons into lemonade.