Goals to Get a Marriage Back on Track After an Affair

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In the wake of infidelity, one of the first questions couples face is whether their relationship can be saved. More importantly, are both parties willing to put in the required effort to repair the damage and restore trust? If the affair was deemed a mistake, the couple may want to stay together; but, particularly in those early days, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Cutting Ties

One of the most important first steps is for the cheating spouse to cut ties with their affair partner. In her book, "When Good People Have Affairs," Mira Kirshenbaum explains that it is not possible to remain friends while trying to repair your marriage. If you work together, avoid interacting with the other person and, if necessary, consider looking for another job. Ultimately, you do not want to put yourself in a position where you are tempted to stray again.

Ending Secrets

Restoring trust in the relationship will be one of the greatest challenges for a couple recovering from an affair. As a result, there must be no more secrets between them. In her book, Kirshenbaum also outlines the importance of transparency after infidelity. This could mean that the passwords and details in private email and social media accounts become shared with the betrayed spouse or that the cheating spouse keeps the betrayed spouse informed about their whereabouts. This will differ from couple to couple, but it's important for each partner to agree on what will work and what won't.

Addressing Existing Problems

When cheating occurs, both partners tend to place blame on the other. A betrayed spouse may insist that their partner just wanted cheap thrills on the side, while the cheater may say that they strayed because they felt neglected. Janis Abrahms Springs, Ph.D., in her book, "After the Affair," stresses the importance of learning from infidelity rather than simply making assumptions. Surprisingly, many couples are able to face the issues that existed before the betrayal and become closer than before.

Restoring Intimacy

For most people, sex is an important part of their relationship. It can be very difficult, however, after one partner has gone outside of the marriage. As Springs states in her book, the betrayed partner may feel inadequate or may be wondering if their spouse touched their affair partner similarly. It's only natural to have some ambivalence but, with time and patience, couples can return to having a healthy sex life. If this was an issue before the affair or if restoring intimacy becomes too difficult, seeking help from a qualified sexual therapist may be helpful.