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How to Take a Spouse Back After Separation and Infidelity

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

If your spouse has committed adultery and moved out, you might wonder whether you want him back or if your marriage is worth salvaging. A separation can give you time to objectively assess the relationship and determine if the strengths outweigh the weaknesses, according to the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center in “Can a Marriage Survive a Separation?” Time apart can also help you rebuild the trust necessary to make your marriage work.

Give Your Marriage a Chance

If your marriage is to survive, it must not include your spouse’s affair partner. As a condition of returning home, your spouse must completely cut off all contact with the affair partner, according to marriage therapist Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D., on his Marriage Builders site. Your spouse must be honest about the affair details and account for how time is spent during the day. You and your spouse might take a vacation lasting several weeks to give your spouse time to overcome the withdrawal from the affair partner and the depression that often accompanies ending an affair. Avoid arguing with your partner during this time to allow your partner to see that you care and want to meet her emotional needs.

Understanding the Affair

You must understand why the affair occurred, according to marriage therapist Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., in “Marriage Crisis, Separation, Infidelity.” The separation must include working on the issues that allowed the infidelity to occur or you won’t be able to salvage the marriage after your spouse returns home. Both of you should consider how your actions opened the door to an affair, suggests marriage therapist Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., in a Huffington Post article. Once you understand the affair, you can make determinations about how you want to refashion your marriage.

Separation Homework

Address the problems that led to the affair with a marriage therapist and individual therapy, suggests Whetstone. Focus on honesty and open communication, as well as your personal issues, such as being needy, critical, avoiding problems or treating your spouse disrespectfully. Some progress on personal and marriage issues must occur before the separation ends or you could find yourself splitting again. Avoid dating each other or outside partners, suggests marriage therapist Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D., in her book, “Not ‘Just Friends:’ Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity.” Living apart with little or no contact could increase your trust issues, so be honest if either of you dates during this period.

Reconnect, Communicate and Cooperate

When you begin reconnecting, find topics where you agree, suggests marriage coach Jack Ito, Ph.D. on his website. Do something for yourself, such as begin a new hobby so you don’t appear too needy. Make your contact pleasant with side-by-side activities rather than face-to-face conversation, such as watching your kids participate in sports or working on a project. Avoid having sex until you make progress on your marital goals to reduce the impulse to reunite prematurely. Get to know one another on a deeper level as you cooperate in improving your relationship.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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