Your marriage can survive an affair. Healing from infidelity is hard, painful work; both of you must be committed to repairing the damage, rebuilding trust, and reconnecting. The unfaithful spouse must be willing to stop the affair, provide all details honestly and completely, and take the steps necessary to prove his or her trustworthiness. The betrayed spouse must take the job of healing seriously—by not minimizing or trying to speed up the process and, at times, by setting aside overwhelming anger and despair in order to learn more about what’s happened. Stopping secrecy and building a more honest union are the keys. This is a very doable process when both parties are willing to do whatever it takes for their marriage to work. If both parties are not willing to participate at the same time, surviving infidelity is an IMPOSSIBLE task.
As we went through our healing for our marriage and sought professional help, there were tangible tips that we walked away with that we STILL put into practice today. Healing isn’t an event, it’s a lifelong process.
If you and your spouse are wanting to travel down the road of recovery and healing, here are a few tips that were helpful to us.
1. Promise to stop the affair—and to stop seeing your lover—immediately!
Agree to sever all contact. This lifts secrecy and creates a sense of safety for the betrayed spouse. Stopping an affair and surviving infidelity goes beyond no dinner dates or sex. All phone calls, in-person conversations, and any other interaction must stop. If you work with the person with whom you had an affair, keep your encounters strictly businesslike—and tell your spouse everything that happens. It’s also important to report any chance meetings with your former lover to your spouse before he or she asks about it. Talk about your conversation. If your former lover contacts you, announce that too. This will help rebuild trust in your relationship!
2. Answer any and all questions.
More marriage experts agree that couples heal better after an affair if the adulterous spouse supplies all of the information requested by his or her betrayed partner. You need to reach the point where you can talk about it without pain. If you never, ever discuss it, you cannot recover. Many spouses (and therapists) think that going over the details will only further upset the aggrieved partner. Truth is, willingness to talk rebuilds trust. The key? Not holding back—no more secrets. If you leave out details that emerge later, your spouse may feel newly betrayed.
3. Keep talking and listening, no matter how long it takes.
Though all couples should improve and strengthen their listening skills, it’s especially important in a situation of infidelity. You can’t speed up your spouse’s healing process, and you shouldn’t ever negate its significance. Be ready to answer questions at any time, even months or years after the affair has ended. And listen to his or her reactions without anger or blame—this is key for surviving infidelity.This tip takes PATIENCE!! Many couples don’t survive because they put a time limit on the healing process and therefore assassinates the work that has been done. Remember, the affair may be over but the effects.
There are many more strategies that we have had to put into effect. If you both make a commitment to follow these strategies with your whole heart, your marriage has a good chance of surviving infidelity—and emerging stronger on the other side.