Repairing a marriage requires patience, hard work and a commitment from both partners. It can be a long, emotional process, especially if one of you has emotionally cheated. As you work through a range of emotions, including sadness, loneliness and anger, it’s important to determine if you are ready to put in the work to repair the marriage and forgive one another. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the majority of marriages can recover from an affair with the help of professional counseling.
Ensure the Emotional Affair Is Over
Although it may be painful to approach the topic of an affair, it’s important that you and your spouse are committed to moving forward. Have an honest discussion with your spouse to ensure the emotional affair is over and that the feelings for the other person no longer exist. If you emotionally cheated, end all contact with the person and reassure your spouse that you are fully committed to repairing the marriage. Without closure, one or both of you may foster feelings of resentment, jealousy and even anger. By putting the affair in the past, you can both work toward falling back in love again with one another.
Maintain Open Communication
It is likely that you and your spouse have questions for one another about the emotional affair. If your spouse was unfaithful, your spouse may be questioning how to regain your trust. If you were involved in an emotional affair, your spouse may have questions about what led to your actions or how a breakdown in marital trust occurred. Although it may be difficult to drudge up these emotions, it’s important to have open communication to rebuild trust in the marriage. If one or both of you keep secrets, the result could be further distance between you or even feelings of resentment. When communicating about sensitive topics, avoid defensive or disrespectful exchanges. If necessary, enlist the help of a mediator or professional counselor to help you both communicate. Conversing in a safe environment can help the two of you to feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings.
Even if you were not the one who had an emotional affair, in order to repair your marriage, it’s important to look at yourself and your contributions to the breakdown in the relationship. Take ownership for any faults. Reflect on what you both disliked about the marriage prior to and during the emotional cheating and create a plan to avoid this behavior or pattern in the future. If you didn’t feel appreciated, provide suggestions for how your spouse can reassure his love for you. Show remorse, too, for your actions during the emotional cheating. When you and your spouse show each other that you are truly sorry for your parts in the marital breakdown, it paves the way for you to rebuild trust in the relationship.
Rekindle Your Love and Passion
When the spark in your relationship takes a backseat to hurt feelings and breaches in trust, it can be difficult to remember the butterflies you once felt for each other. Reignite those feelings by dating each other once again. Designate at least one night each week for some time alone. Take your spouse dancing, to a movie or out to her favorite restaurant. Hold hands and stroll through the neighborhood. The more effort you make to reignite the passion in your relationship, the more your spouse will make the effort to show you how she admires and loves your marriage.