Unfaithfulness in a marriage can make things seem impossible to reconcile even if both parties involved want the marriage to work. Saving a marriage after an affair is hard but not impossible, with true effort things can be better than ever. Knowing how to approach this delicate situation is usually the difference between a successful marriage and divorce or deep-seated resentment.
Apologize from the heart. If you are the one who had the affair it is important that you realize what you did was wrong and that you fully express that to your spouse. Your apology may be met with deserved resistance or resentment but this is to be expected in this situation. Do not try to minimize what you did even if you had a good reason to have the affair, the fact is you could and should have handled things in a different fashion. Remember that if your goal is to truly save your marriage then you lay the foundation to make that possible.
Drill to the root of the issue. Many times after infidelity, one of the common mistakes couples make is to try to pretend that it didn’t happen and that there may not have been valid reasons for the affair. Find out what the reasons were in order to refrain from revisiting those same behaviors through open hearted and honest conversation with your spouse. These conversations will not be comfortable for either of you but try to keep the goal in mind of saving your marriage. Having a mediator of some sort if you can not afford counseling may be helpful if you are both comfortable with whom you are speaking in front of. After the truth comes out it will be easier to avoid the same thing in future and to disarm a problem that arises.
Rebuild the bridge of trust. Most things that are of value take time to make, as well as wounds take time to heal. Remember that you both have scars that will need to heal and it may take longer than you want to rebuild trust. Forgiveness is fickle at times in that as human beings, we can forgive but often times cannot forget deep pain. This affair will remain in both of your minds for the rest of your lives but even if you are the one who remained faithful, you should not always use your partners infidelity to justify yourself in all instances. This is a hard pill to swallow for those who remained faithful (if that is the case) but it is an essential step that will allow your partner a true opportunity to rebuild the bridge of trust with you. Without a real chance to do so, there will always be a barrier that will never be overcome, possibly opening the door for future headaches.
Refrain from revisiting. This does not mean to pretend that it didn’t happen or not to communicate about the affair, but to stay away from the causes of the affair and the temptations that caused the faith backslide so to speak. Both parties are responsible for the upkeep of the marriage even when one may not be able to fully commit or put in like the other may wish, at times picking up the slack is needed. Now that you have both talked about why the affair happened, you should be able to identify when something may trigger that insecurity in the future. Although it may be uncomfortable to listen to or bring up, in order to disarm future problems it is important that either one side or the other in the marriage communicate insecurities they may be having when they happen or as soon as it is possible. When this type of communication happens it is important for the sake of the relationship that it is met with humbleness and understanding and not anger. This type of true communication will help to rebuild trust as well.
Know when to take a break from each other. Sometimes it is important to get back in touch with who you are and to have time to yourself. Marriage often tends to make people loose a certain sense of their own personal identity. An affair is sometimes a way that people may search for themselves or something they feel is missing. Allow your spouse to be who they are as long as it is acceptable to the expected and agreed standard of your individual marriage. Choose your battles wisely and know when to walk away from frustrating situations. Time for yourself and to yourself is sometimes key, be sure that this time though is not used, whether consciously or subconsciously to get back at your spouse in any way.
- Mediation or counseling is a helpful tool that can and should be applied if even only for one of you if you do not both agree to go.
- Forcing or pushing someone to do something they are uncomfortable with will only cause a deeper sense of resentment and sew the seeds of divorce or separation even more. Be patient and if you both want things to work, then it will, but you cannot force it to, no matter how hard you try by yourself.