Repairing Your Marriage After An Affair
So You Had An Affair and Want To Repair Your Marriage
In order to lie to your spouse and cheat on your marriage vow, betray your spouse's trust, and risk losing your marriage and children, your character had to slip into a shameful place. If you are still interested in holding on to your marriage, then these steps can help point you in the right direction.
Understand that it may not be possible. Some marriages do not survive infidelity. However, if your spouse is willing to move forward with you, it will almost completely depend on you and your actions. To get into this awful place, your character took a deep dive and now you must take the necessary steps to rebuild your character. You have to become a better person for the long run.
3 Steps To Begin Healing After An Affair
Now that you've been discovered, here are some beginning steps you can take to help you and your spouse heal.
1. End the affair and sever all contact with the lover.
Why does this even need to be mentioned? End the infidelity? Of course!
There are good and bad ways to terminate with the paramour; I recommend a specific way to end this extra-marital affair. I hear of so many mistakes made at this juncture, even by well-meaning and experienced therapists whose incomplete instructions contribute to keeping the extra-marital relationship alive. These are therapists I respect for their general work with couples, but not with infidelity.
The instructions are too detailed and delicate for me to discuss here, but are available in my self-help program, Survive an Affair, or I can help you work through the instructions in marriage counseling or a marriage retreat.
2. Listen to your spouse express hurt feelings about the infidelity.
This can be especially difficult for you men, but you women can have difficulty with this, too. The difficulty in listening to the hurt feelings you caused is not necessarily from indifference, which might be hurled at you, but because it is so painful for you to think of yourself as being "the bad guy."
Nonetheless, it's part of the process. Your wounded spouse will most probably need to express deeply hurt feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness, and others about your betrayal and you need to listen and understand the full impact of your misbehavior.
If you're guilty of infidelity, accept the fact that, for the time being, your spouse is going to resent you, feel betrayed by you, and needs to tell you this.
If you are able, listen without being defensive. Don't try to justify your infidelity and avoid comments that throw the blame on your spouse such as "You never paid enough attention to me" or "Who could blame me the way you treat me?" Remember that you always had choices and you chose to break your vow.
3. Meet your spouse's emotional needs in ways you haven't before.
You have to improve your marriage, hopefully to become better than ever but don't set unreasonable expectations such as sending a bouquet of flowers every day. Find ways you can be your spouse's companion, conversational partner, family, and parental partner if you have children, financial partner, and, at some point, your spouse's sexual partner.
Help your spouse feel more loved than ever before. The way to think about this is that you did something awful, but out of the ashes of the affair, your spouse will get a better marriage and a better partner, and then you will, too.
This may be one of the hardest parts of surviving an affair. Together you need to rekindle the trust, regain the love, and you must show your spouse that your behavior has permanently changed for the better.
Better Marriage Through YOU
If you are going to do your part, you have to contribute to making your relationship better than it ever was. No one will truly know if you are making the internal changes except you, and you have to want to make the changes for yourself because you want to repair your character and become a better person. No one else can do that wanting for you, just like no one else can make those internal changes for you. If you would like to know more please see my article What to Do After the Affair.