There is perhaps no bigger sting than the shock of infidelity. Knowing your spouse was unfaithful severs the bond of trust that is so vital to the strength of a marriage. It is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to threaten marriage and it is often fatal to the relationship. Some people simply cannot move past the betrayal and they find the marriage to be beyond repair.
Many people wrestle with the decision to save their marriage. Some affairs are long and drawn out with strong emotional ties. Others are simply one-night flings that have little or no meaning. Deciding whether to save your marriage will depend on how you feel about your spouse and if your spouse is willing to stay. If you decide to try to stay together remember that it will be a long and exhausting venture, but it can be done.
Most affairs begin to fill an emotional void. Married couples can sometimes drift apart in some areas of their lives and this leaves the door open for someone else to step into the middle of the marriage. Often the cheater is seeking to fill some emotional need that is not being met at home. Cheaters start out just looking for someone to understand them.
In the end, it’s the way the other person makes them feel that keeps them emotionally invested in the affair. This can happen in even the best marriages. People often get so involved with their personal pursuits, their jobs, and in raising the children they forget that their spouse still needs them.
The very first thing the faithful spouse must do is face the fact that the affair happened. Ignoring it and moving on will not work. This only builds resentment and delays the inevitable. If your spouse has cheated you have to keep in mind that your spouse it suffering too. People who end long emotional affairs often fall into deep depression. Even if you can feel no sympathy for your cheating spouse’s pain, it is important to realize that it is very real.
If the cheating spouse has decided they would like to remain in the marriage they must completely cut off all ties with the other person. This is sometimes hard but it essential if the marriage is to be saved. If the other person is a friend, coworker, or even worse, a family member this part can be disruptive to your life. In extreme cases, you may have to move or the cheater must find a new job.
If the cheater is still exposed to the other person it is likely that the affair may resume at some point in the future. This is also extremely important to the faithful spouse. If the cheater agrees to end the affair and never go near the other person again, this will help to rebuild the trust. It also lets the faithful spouse know that the cheater is serious about fixing the marriage and moving ahead.
After all contact between the cheater and the other person has been severed, the cheater will go into withdrawal. This is much like an alcoholic that has gone sober. They need time to mourn a part of their life that is over and may have meant a lot to them.
The affair filled a need for them and this is now gone. This will be hard for the faithful spouse to accept but it is important for this stage to happen uninterrupted. This phase may take anywhere from a few weeks to many months. The time involved depends on the depth of the emotional loss for the cheater. The cheater may feel frustrated, angry, and sad during this time.
It is important for the faithful spouse to allow this stage to happen in its own time. Many times a spouse will try to fill the void that the other person has left in their partner’s life. This leaves the cheater confused and frustrated all over again. Only after the withdrawal period is over can the healing really begin in earnest?
Repair and Move On
Once the withdrawal period is over the real healing can start. The faithful spouse may find that the cheater does not feel as much remorse as they think they should. This is hard on the faithful spouse and should be directly addressed. This is when the deep conversations should take place. The cheater should apologize and answer every question the faithful spouse asks them.
They must show understanding and a willingness to be completely open and honest about everything. The faithful spouse should give himself or herself all the time they need to ponder the situation and decide how they wish to proceed. They should ask every question they have until they are satisfied that they have all the information they need.
Making It Work
As long as both spouses remain committed to reconciliation, anything is possible. Spouses should show each other compassion and understanding, be patient with each other, and learn what is needed to avoid another affair. Seek counseling together and separately if needed.
This may be a crucial and healing exercise for both parties involved. Sometimes couples must learn how to love each other and relate to each other all over again. With love and hard work, the marriage can survive and last a lifetime.