Marriage is the process by which two lives become one. All assets are shared and the couple commits to a monogamous sexual relationship. If your spouse has cheated on you, he has violated your trust and your marriage vows. Most states consider adultery a misdemeanor crime, which means that virtually any divorce court in the United States will grant you a divorce based solely on the grounds of adultery. However, with time and hard work, it is possible to save and heal a marriage after your husband has cheated on you.
The person who has been cheated on is never to blame for the indiscretion. The first step to healing a marriage shattered by adultery is the refusal to accept responsibility for your husband's affair. If you absorb your husband's guilt and blame, you will not be able to confront him and his behavior effectively. See a counselor or join a support group if you feel that you need help to refrain from taking on responsibility for your husband's actions. It is not your fault; it is his fault. Underlying marital issues can only be addressed and dealt with after your husband has accepted full responsibility for breaking your marriage vows.
When you first learn of your husband's infidelities, you may experience shock. Very soon after this initial shock passes, most women that have been cheated on struggle with their sense of self-worth, self-respect and desirability. If you are serious about healing your marriage after an affair, take as much time as necessary to work through your personal wounds before attempting to do the hard work of restoring your marriage. See a therapist, schedule counseling with a pastor or go on a retreat to work through the damage done to your soul by your husband's infidelity.
Many women are afraid to forgive their cheating spouse because they think that forgiveness equals permission to repeat the offense. This is not the truth! When you forgive, you are effectively releasing yourself from bondage to bitterness and other toxic emotions that can eat you up on the inside. Acknowledge the crimes your husband has committed against you, one by one. Write them down and read the list to your husband if you feel strong enough to do so. For each offense, verbalize how it made you feel, such as: abandoned, rejected, unloved. Forgive your spouse for each offense; do this out loud, so that you can gain closure. When feelings of bitterness spring up again, remind yourself that your spouse is totally forgiven. The process of forgiving your spouse will help to heal your own heart from the fallout of the affair and will create an atmosphere in which to rebuild your relationship.
Women tend to experience overwhelming paranoia and anxiety after an affair has been exposed. It is difficult to believe that your husband is really working late or going to the store, instead of indulging in another illicit affair. The hard truth of the matter is that it will take time to rebuild trust after your husband has cheated. Ask your husband to end all contact with the third party and let you know how and where this action was taken. Also, ask him to tell you if the third party tries to initiate contact again in the future. Inform your spouse that he can regain trust by being accountable to you. This means that his life becomes transparent; you are allowed access to his receipts, text and phone logs, and personal email accounts at all times. You can check them at whim to gain assurance that your husband is not cheating on the side.
- USA Today; Adultery, In Many States, is Still a Crime; Jonathan Turley
- Help Getting Back Together; Can Your Marriage Go Back to The Way Things Were Before He Cheated?; Ruth A. Baker
- Beyond Affairs; How Does One Forgive an Extramarital Affair; Anne Bercht
- TwoOfUs.org: Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage After an Affair
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