An affair can add more instability, mistrust and resentment to an already troubled marriage. Infidelity increases the likelihood of the marriage failing. However, it is possible for couples to reconcile their differences and work successfully toward strengthening the relationship. In order for this to work, both partners must be committed to the relationship.
Attend Couples Therapy
A licensed marriage counselor can provide an unbiased medium through which both partners can discuss concerns. This therapist will be able to help couples put their marriage into perspective. Partners can get help to identify weaknesses and set directional goals for the future.
The partner who cheated must take responsibility and own up to the infidelity. Do all you can to sever all ties with the individual with whom you had the affair. Do not contact them if at all possible, states the Mayo Clinic article, “Infidelity: Mending Your Marriage After an Affair.” If the person is a co-worker then you should restrict contact or change your job, if possible.
Be Open About the Affair
Mayo Clinic also says that the partner who has been cheated on will naturally be curious about the affair. The spouse who cheated should be ready to divulge any requested details. Unanswered questions can eventually create future insecurities. Although this honesty may be difficult at times, it is a necessary step to facilitating openness in the relationship.
Identify the Motivation to Cheat
Partners can together pinpoint what the motivating factors were for cheating on their spouses. Identifying what led one or both partners to cheat can help partners to avoid cheating in the future, says marriage counselor Sandra Segall.
Set New Goals for the Relationship
Both partners can make goals and set new boundaries for the marriage, says Segall. This may include new routines and practices that will facilitate greater closeness between the partners. For example, couples may establish a weekly date night or make a promise to never take work home.
Forgive and Let Go
The spouse that has been cheated on will have to forgive the other. According to Jay Kent-Ferraro in "Is it Really Possible to Save a Marriage after an Affair," this will make room for the couple to grow and for healing to take place. Not forgiving a partner can turn into resentment which will ultimately erode the foundation of the marriage. Without forgiveness it is not possible to move on.
Allow Time for Healing
The relationship will need time for complete healing. The spouse who has been cheated on will be hurting from the betrayal. Although you may both be working on fixing the relationship, the amount of time necessary to heal will vary among individuals.
Emotions will run high at times. Infidelity can produce high tension within the relationship. Partners need to be able to identify when one or the other is at a breaking point and call a time out, according to the Mayo Clinic. Both people can make plans to continue the discussion at another time when emotions are not so high.
In order for the relationship to develop in a healthier way, both spouses must grow to trust each other again. One suggestion made by Segall is for the partner who cheated to allow open access to texts, emails and voice mail. Make your life an open book to foster a new level of trust.
Give Extra Attention
The partner who has been cheated on will require a lot of emotional support. This is not just limited to sexual intimacy, but general care and affection. Make extra time for affection and intimacy each day. This can include preparing your spouse’s favorite food for dinner, picking up a treat on the way home from work or hiding little love notes in pockets.