Affairs are one of the most devastating things that can happen in a marriage. It’s a breach of trust that can be extremely difficult to recover from, and even if a couple decides to stick it out after one of them has cheated, it’s a long road to resolving the problems that lead to the affair in the first place.
That said, it is absolutely possible to recover from an affair – if you’re willing to have the tough discussions and put in the work necessary to get your marriage back on track.
It often means a slow process of forgiveness, which will include a discussion of what happened and how, expressing genuine regret, a commitment to making things better, and assurance that it won’t happen again…
But within that “commitment to making things better,” there are plenty of things to consider. You’ll have to discuss the environment of the marriage that led one of you to seek someone else, and you’ll have to make a plan for improving each of the problems you identify…
But what if the person who cheated (or really, either person) isn’t willing to commit to making those kinds of improvements? What if they won’t even entertain the idea that the marriage can be saved?
Well, this is a tough situation to approach – and the unfortunate reality is that a spouse who flat out refuses to work on the relationship is condemning the marriage to failure… And if you can’t convince them to even try, especially after an affair, you might be headed for divorce.
But wait! There are ways to help them see the value of working on the relationship, and to help them understand that a marriage is worth saving, even if it has been ripped apart by infidelity.
It mostly comes down to one realization – that the marriage can be even better than it was before. This might sound crazy, but in the wake of an affair, couples have a very rare opportunity to reevaluate the whole relationship, and rebuild it from the ground up.
If an affair has happened and trust has been broken, you both have to face some very harsh realities. It won’t be pleasant, but it will force you to look at what you’ve both been doing that could have contributed. You’ll have to take stock of your feelings, probably dredge up some old pain points, and if nothing else, be extremely vulnerable with one another while you open up and talk about mistakes that were made and needs that may have been neglected.
It will be messy and painful, but if you can hash out some of your problems – because they’ve essentially been thrown into your face – you can actually experience a ton of growth. You won’t be able to avoid or dodge issues, or simply go on with important things left unsaid. In the wake of an affair, pretty much everything is on the table, even things you may have avoided talking about for years…
That means that you’re almost forced into using your very best communication skills (perhaps even building more), which can create whole new level of honesty and transparency between you and your spouse – and that’s a good thing! Even if it’s a less-than-ideal way to achieve this newfound way of communicating, breaking through barriers is still a good sign for the future of the relationship.
Many couples also find that, after they’ve had to stare down the prospect of splitting up, they grow closer together. After experiencing the risk of losing each other, they find a whole new level of love and connectivity that didn’t exist before the affair. It can even re-awaken sexual desire and boost intimacy to new heights!
Affairs are still devastating – there’s no getting around that – but if you can explain to your spouse the possibilities for growth and a “new and improved” marriage after some core issues have been addressed, you may be able to help them see the value of working through the problems and committing to making the relationship better than ever.
Don’t give up, even if it seems like your spouse is. You can help them see the potential for your future together, even if you’re in the aftermath of a painful affair. It is possible – even probable – that if you can get through this painful time, you’ll be an even stronger couple in the long run.