Is Your Marriage Over After an Affair?
Infidelity Doesn't Have To Mean Your Marriage is Over
Once infidelity is revealed in your marriage have no doubt that your spouse is nothing short of devastated. While it used to be that when the word "infidelity" was heard it was automatically linked to the male, that is no longer the case. Both men and women are sharing an almost equal role in committing adultery.
Putting the Pieces Back Together
Exactly how you or your partner found out about the breach of trust in your marriage doesn't really matter. What matters is giving a fair shot to at least attempting to put the pieces back together again, as long as both of you are wanting to and willing to work authentically toward that goal.
If you are in this situation, either as the cheater or the betrayed, you probably already know that you are in a situation similar to someone in the grieving process after the death of someone close. In this case the trust in your relationship was breached and something very valuable died.
Example Scenario of Infidelity
Consider the following scenario of learning of an affair and the immediate aftermath:
Kathy found out that Jeff was cheating on her when she came home from work one night. Some neighbors were gathered outside; it was a beautiful summer night. They had all been drinking and a couple of the ladies had found out about Jeff's infidelities and decided with a little liquid courage that this was the time that Kathy should find out.
Kathy was devastated and her initial reaction was shock. Jeff still didn't know that Kathy had found out. Kathy did not confront Jeff until the next morning when they were alone.
What made it worse was that the girl that Jeff cheated with was a friend of Kathy's and it happened more than once according to her neighbors.
When Kathy confronted Jeff, he lied. He continued to lie during several weeks of an unremitting barrage of questions and accusations - first admitting to secretly talking with her, then to some "friendship" hugs, and then to kissing. Finally, he admitted that they had a sexual encounter together, but "only once".
The way Kathy had to painfully draw every new revelation made her question everything Jeff said. Now Kathy wanted to confront her so-called "friend," too. After all, this was a double betrayal.
Kathy felt shocked at first, then broken hearted, then angry and confused. She began to deny aspects of what she found out as if they hadn't happened. At some point, she even wanted to justify the situation, taking the blame that was thrust at her. The barrage of feelings that came unbidden had to be dealt with before anything else could happen.
One of the Worst Parts is Dealing with the Past
If you are in a situation like Kathy's, you probably know that one of the worst parts of your experience is dealing with the past. With the confusion you feel and the mistrust you experience, these become like a weight of bricks on your heart.
After a time, you start to question if your spouse ever loved you. You may start to re-color all of your past together. How can you ever trust your spouse again?
There are Many Styles of Affairs
Some marital affairs last for years; other infidelities are one-night stands. Some involve sex; others are relationship only - in some cases the two have never even met (think of internet dating). Some are deep love affairs, others are relationships of convenience. Some are the first and only experience; others might be one in a string of affairs.
Each kind of affair involves a different kind of person and different relationships. One commonality is that the cheating spouse has the affair for selfish reasons.
Will You Save Your Marriage?
Will you save your marriage? That depends on many factors including your motivation and your spouse's motivation. It also depends on how well the cheating partner works to earn back your trust. This is going to take time but it can happen. I know because I help couples put their marriages back together after infidelity.
For the Cheating Spouse
If you are the cheating spouse and your situation is like most couples, you have built up resentments and bitterness over years and this made you vulnerable to having an affair. There will be time later to work through your anger and resentment, but for now, you have to earn back your position of being trusted and loved. You do that by being trustworthy and accountable for your actions - being trustworthy and acting trustworthy - you need both.
Don't make your spouse follow you around to make sure that you aren't cheating; prove yourself. Do what you have to do. When you are out somewhere call from a landline phone rather than your cell phone to record your location, bring receipts, leave your cell phone out in the open while at home.
Just like you covered your tracks when you were cheating, uncover them now.
When your spouse wants to talk about what you did, keep your mouth closed and take the tongue lashing. You are the one who caused this mess. If you are both committed to saving your marriage, with time it can work.
When thinking about the future, instead of thinking about putting your marriage back together like it was when it was broken, you have to think about putting your marriage together so it will be better than ever.
My best warm wishes for creating your own happy marriage.
Marriage Help to Survive Affairs
I have been counseling couples in difficult situations like this for over 35 years. I can probably help you fix your marriage too. I offer marriage counseling and marriage retreats at my office in Maryland to couples from all over the world.
Please call 410-654-1300 or toll-free 866-654-1300 to learn more.