Recovering from infidelity is one of the most difficult challenges any relationship can face. For the person who was cheated on, it can seem all but impossible to regain trust, to get past the pain, and to even consider moving forward with the marriage.
For anyone who has been cheated on, there are a few essential facts for coming to grips with the reality of the scenario, and understanding them will be critical in your ability to rebuild the relationship.
These may seem a little harsh at times, but it’s a harsh situation to be in…
1. Your Spouse Is The Source Of Your Pain
As tough as it is to admit – it’s true. Your spouse is the one who wronged you, and right now, they are the source of all the hurt you’re going through. This is important to understand because it helps you shift away from blaming yourself, searching for outside “reasons,” or making excuses for them.
Also, once you internalize that they are the source of the pain, you can take the necessary space to think long and hard about rebuilding trust with them. You won’t be tempted to fall back into old patterns right away.
2. Your Spouse Is A Liar… And They Can’t Prove Otherwise
At some point during an affair, your spouse lied to you. Maybe it was to cover their tracks, maybe it was to “protect” you, maybe it was something more serious – one way or another, though, no affair can take place without a certain amount of dishonesty.
Unfortunately, that means that you can’t really trust what they say, no matter what promises they make. That is, you can’t trust them UNTIL YOU CHOOSE TO.
No amount of begging, pleading, promising, or “proving themselves” will solve the problem entirely. You have to choose to reinvest your trust. They can’t convince you – they can only help make your choice easier. Trust is generally earned through actions, and your spouse’s actions have betrayed your trust. It’s going to take time to rebuild it, and it’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
3. You Can Still Make It Work
In the worst moments, this may be another fact that’s extremely hard to accept, but it’s true! You can still make your marriage work – it will just take time and effort.
Your marriage isn’t over unless you decide it is. With the help of counseling, you can find ways to forgive your spouse, reconnect emotionally, and move forward. The key is to recognize that your OLD marriage wasn’t a relationship that worked, but that you can embark on a NEW marriage with the person you’re already married to. You have to put the past behind you, own up to faults, and agree to start fresh. It won’t be easy, but it IS possible.
4. Details Hurt
You may think you want to know all the gory details, but if the hurt is still fresh… You don’t.
The specifics of when it started, where things happened, and even what happened won’t do much but give you more to think about, more to feel hurt about, and more to demonize your spouse over. The more you know, the more you’ll have to forgive.
Now, if you still want to know the ugly details after some time has gone by, after you’ve patched things up, then you have every right to ask – but understand that it won’t make you feel any better. It might even be a good idea to only bring up such questions when see a counselor or in some kind of mediated conversation. Dredging up the details can send you spiraling back into pain and distrust, even if the affair is long over.
5. You Can’t Do It Alone
When your spouse cheats on you, the emotional impact is devastating. In the face of such hurt, it’s difficult to make rational decisions, to communicate effectively, to even be in the same room as your unfaithful spouse…
Your judgment is clouded, you might be acting out of hurt or anger, and you can only see the situation from your own subjective position. With some professional help, though, you can understand the whole issue in a little more context, understand the conditions in your marriage that led to the affair, learn about forgiveness, and hopefully get some of those emotionally charged thoughts and actions under control.
A properly trained third party can make all the difference in getting you and your spouse talking again, helping you avoid destructive conflict, and teaching you tactics for rebuilding the damaged connection.
Our How To Survive An Affair video series is a great place to start!
If you’ve suffered through an affair, remember that it doesn’t mean the end of your marriage… It means the end of your OLD marriage. If you’re willing to work on it, and agree to move forward in a new direction of trust, love, and understanding, you can save your relationship in the wake of infidelity.