What do most people want out of marriage? A partner they can love, trust, and enjoy their life with. Unfortunately, there are many problems and obstacles that come along and break up that perfect image of what we want our marriages to look like. The website Trustify recently conducted a survey that found that over half of the people surveyed (both men and women) had cheated on their spouses. If you are living in this situation right now you might be wondering if it’s even possible to overcome infidelity.
Your marriage can overcome infidelity
The simple answer is yes, your marriage can overcome infidelity. But, it’s not something that is just going to happen naturally, by ignoring the problem, or without making a decision to make it work. Belgian psychotherapist, Ester Perel, has spent the last 30 years working as a couples therapist. For the last ten, she has focused her work specifically on helping couples working through infidelity. She shares in a video on the subject, “Betrayal runs deep but it can be healed. On the side of the person that had the affair, there are three specific things that you can do that help to restore trust.”
1. Acknowledge the wrongdoing
If you had an affair its important that you understand the marriage cannot begin to heal until you acknowledge what you’ve done to hurt it in the first place. This is true regardless of what type of infidelity took place: sexual, cyber, or emotional. Your partner needs to see that you are experiencing true guilt over what you have done and the pain that you have caused them. This helps to communicate to them that you care about them. It shows that they are important to you along with the relationship.
2. Take responsibility for bringing up the affair
When your partner learns of your infidelity it will consume their thoughts. It shouldn’t be their job to have to bring it up to you all the time. Even though you would prefer to ignore the issue and might think it’s a good thing if they aren’t talking about it at all, that’s not a healthy way to heal a relationship. Instead, you need to become the one who fights for your marriage.
If your partner is going to be facing a situation where they will be directly reminded of the situation make sure you check in with them. Reassure them that you understand, you are sorry, and that together you are going to grow past the affair and create new memories together. You want to let them know that you see their pain without them having to tell you all the time. Prove to them that you care about them and that you are going to do the hard work to help put your relationship back together.
3. Make space for healing
Guilt over what you have done can be difficult to live with. It might feel like every time you are starting to move past that guilt your partner brings up the affair again and puts you right back in that place. It’s important that you realize they are not talking about it in an effort to hurt you but because they are hurting. The trust is broken and they feel the need to ask the same questions over and over again in an effort to restore some of that. Every answer that you give creates a new link for them that helps to reweave the trust. If you ask your partner not to bring up the topic because you can’t handle the guilt you are experiencing you are not providing them with the space to heal.
For the partner that was betrayed
If your spouse has been unfaithful to you, you probably have a lot of questions that you want answers to. However, before you start asking and demanding answers it’s important for you to think through if you really want to have to live with the answers that you will receive. There are some questions that can help you to understand the meaning and motive behind the affair and then there are some questions that will only provide you with details that you might not truly want to know (even if you think you do right now).
Some questions that may help you protect your marriage going forward include:
- Why did it happen to you now?
- What did the affair mean to you?
- Are you here for me and the family?
- Did you hope I would find out?
- What can we learn from this affair together?
- What was it like for you when you came home?
If your mind is reeling wanting to know the who, what, where, and how of the exact situation(s) take a moment to pause. These questions will not help you learn why the affair happened or what needs to be done in order to move forward. There are some questions that you are better off not knowing the answers to. It’s important to determine what questions will help protect your relationship and which ones will only hurt you more.
Don’t try to get through it alone
If your marriage has been rocked by infidelity, talk to a local professional. Pretending the situation didn’t happen is not a healthy way to move forward. Trust is broken and needs to be rebuilt. This is not an easy task, but it is possible. Your relationship can be restored and improved in the future. But, you have to do the necessary work first. A licensed professional can help you get to the root cause of the affair. Then, they can help you navigate the road to recovery.