The emotional aftermath of infidelity can last can last for years, says family counselor Erik Johnson in "Picking up the Pieces" on the website, Focus on the Family. While the circumstances will be different in each case, every couple who is committed to saving their marriage after an affair has to go through the same stages to repair the shattered relationship. It is possible to survive an affair and end up with a stronger marriage than ever, but it takes time, effort and courage.
Tell your husband how his infidelity made you feel. Feelings of anger, resentment, inadequacy, fear, confusion and unhappiness are all normal after a betrayal, says Daniel Keeran, MSW, in "Effective Counselling Skills" on Academia.edu. Ask your husband to be patient during this stage, as he has no control over your recovery process.
Hear and accept assurances of love and commitment from your husband. Lack of trust and concern that the adulterer may have another affair is a central issue when recovering from infidelity, says Keeran. "I am sorry for what I did and I don't deserve your forgiveness, but can you forgive me?," or "I love you and nobody else" and "I will never cheat on you again" are the sort of things your husband should say to you, on a daily basis, to win your trust back. Give yourself time to forgive your husband. You can't be expected to get over such a huge betrayal overnight.
Make sure you are both completely committed to moving on and making the marriage work. To have the best chance of success, your husband must take full responsibility for the damage his affair caused and you must be certain that he is no longer in contact with the other party, says Keeran. Enlist the services of a professional for advice on how to develop the skills required to overcome obstacles and strengthen your relationship.
Consider your own role in the breakdown of the relationship. Accept that you may have made mistakes that contributed to an unhealthy marriage, advises Johnson. Work on making yourself a better partner by being aware of your husband's needs, accepting his flaws and improving your communication skills.
Make time for one another. It's easy to prioritize children, friends, careers and the responsibilities of every day life above a spouse, says licensed psychotherapist Greg Swenson Ph.D. on his own website. Set aside every week to talk or do something you both enjoy.
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Tips for Forgiving Your Best Friend
- Make sure you have a strong support system around you. Ask close friends and relatives to respect your decision to rebuild your marriage, regardless of how they feel about your husband's betrayal.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."