How To Restore A Marriage After
Ways to restore your marriage after affair If you’re marriage is in the middle of trying to recover from an affair right now,
then I don’t need to tell you, it’s one of the most difficult things a couple can go through.
How To Restore A Marriage After
Some marriages won’t survive an affair, unfortunately.
In fact, I remember reading- only 1 in 3 marriages affected by an affair will make it.
But I truly believe it’s because they didn’t have the right tools to know HOW to recover.
The unfaithful spouse must stop ALL contact completely. No phone calls, text, No Contact at all. (You can read more details on how to break off an affair here.)
Distance yourselves from anyone who is not for your marriage surviving or who speaks negatively about your spouse.
Get a good counselor. One for each spouse personally, and one marriage counselor.
Be sure the marriage counselor holds the view of saving the marriage. If you don’t find the right counselor at first, don’t give up. Keep looking until you have a good fit.
Find friends, or recovery support groups, of caring people that have walked through affair recovery too if possible. You can each trust that these people get what you’re going through, and they’ll hold you both accountable for your part of healing the marriage.
The unfaithful spouse must be willing to be completely transparent about everything. No secrets.
Get in a small group with other people who care, even if it’s not with people who know about the infidelity you’re going through. Many churches have small groups that would be helpful. Be faithful in attending, whether or not you share the specifics of your current crisis. Just meeting with other people in a community setting weekly can really have a positive impact on your marriage.
The unfaithful spouse must be willing to answer questions the betrayed spouse may ask, even if it’s painful to answer. It may be necessary for their healing to not feel left out of certain truths about the affair.
Be patient when your (betrayed) spouse is having a difficult day and needs more reassurance, or needs to know more about the affair.
Just try to have patience and empathy for them. Sometimes they’ll ask the same questions but it’s mostly because it’s all confusing right now.
Agree to a set amount of time to talk about the affair (questions, pain, feelings…) and then agree to stop when the time is up. Use a timer if needed. We agreed to 30 min. and sometimes we felt it was best to stop talking about it after 20 min.
Pray together. If you are not a Christian, this may not seem relevant. However, I truly believe praying together helped heal our marriage quicker. Each day or night, just hold hands and pray for each other, your marriage and family.
Find non-sexual ways of touching. Back rubs, foot massaging, or just hold hands while watching TV.
Start slow with sex again. Only when both feel ready. Be prepared that there may be memories or flashbacks. It may be emotional for both, yet keep expectations in check.
Develop new routines, or habits, together. Build a new relationship again. Ours was holding each other at night before sleep.
Unfaithful spouse should avoid places you may have gone that trigger old memories. Keep accountable to spouse and trusted friend of no contact with affair partner.
Unfaithful spouse needs to write down things about the affair partner that you disliked. All the things that you failed to see initially. Also, write down how the lies and sneaking around made you feel. Look at that list when tempted to call or reestablish contact.
If the affair partner works with wayward spouse, change jobs if possible. Or, at least a different department.
Is a move to another city or state possible? Sometimes a new start in a new location away from gossip, places that trigger memories or the chance of bumping into that person again makes moving easier for healing to take place. Changing churches may also be necessary. This one helped speed up our healing.
Find ways to express love and appreciation to your spouse. Think back to why you fell in love to begin with. Do the things you did in the beginning. Talk kindly to one another, be giving and helpful. Find ways to serve each other.
Go on a date with your spouse at least once a week. We read recommendations to spend at least 10 hours a week together, we aimed at 15 hours, and did it. Even simple dates to a coffee shops or sandwich store. Bring playing cards or something different to do together without having to talk about the affair all the time. Find ways to have fun, try a new hobby, visit a new place. Sometimes we need to take our minds off the affair for a designated time to reconnect.
How To Reconcile Your Marriage After
Guard your heart against anger or comparisons. Really try to listen to the heart of your spouse and their own pain. Practice active listening-feed back what the other person said. Know that your hurt spouse needs reassurance and to be heard. And both of you are hurting in different ways.
Infidelity isn’t a single, clearly defined situation — and what’s considered infidelity varies among couples and even between partners in a relationship. For example, is an emotional connection without physical intimacy considered infidelity? What about online relationships? Individuals and couples need to define for themselves what constitutes infidelity in the context of their marriage.
Why affairs happen
Many factors can contribute to infidelity, and most aren’t fundamentally about sex. Some common reasons include:
Lack of affection
Loss of fondness and caring for each other
Breakdown of communication related to emotional and relationship needs
Physical health issues, such as chronic pain or disability
Mental health issues including depression, anxiety, ADD, learning disabilities or bipolar disorder
Addiction, including addiction to sex, gambling, drugs or alcohol
Unaddressed marital problems that have been building for years
Discovering an affair
The initial discovery of an affair usually triggers powerful emotions for both partners such as anger, betrayal, shame, depression, guilt or remorse. It is usually difficult at this time to think clearly enough to make long-term decisions. Consider the following:
Don’t make rash decisions. If you think you might physically hurt yourself or someone else, seek professional help immediately.
Give each other space. The discovery of an affair is always intense. You might find yourself acting erratically or unlike yourself as you attempt to grasp what has happened. Try to avoid emotionally intense discussions as you begin the healing process.
Seek support. It can help to share your experience and feelings with trusted friends or loved ones who can support, encourage and walk along with you on your healing path. Avoid people who tend to be judgmental, critical or biased.
Some spiritual leaders have training and might be helpful. Consider seeing a well-trained, experienced marriage and family therapist alone or together.
Take your time. Even though you might have a deep desire to understand what has happened, avoid delving into the intimate details of the affair initially. Doing so without professional guidance might be harmful.
Mending a broken marriage
Recovering from an affair will be one of the most challenging chapters in your life. This challenge will come with a lot of ambivalence and uncertainty. However, as you rebuild trust, admit guilt, learn how to forgive and reconcile struggles, it can deepen and strengthen the love and affection we all desire.
Consider these steps to promote healing:
Take some time. Before choosing to continue or end your marriage, take the time to heal and understand what was behind the affair. This is not a decision to make at the height of your emotional struggles.
Seeking professional help with a counselor who specializes in marital therapy can be invaluable. Learn the lessons that might prevent future problems.
Be accountable. If you were unfaithful, take responsibility for your actions. It is imperative, as difficult as it might be, to end the affair and stop all interaction or communication with the person. If the affair involved a co-worker, limit contact strictly to business or get another job.
Get help from different sources. Seek the help of nonjudgmental, understanding friends, experienced spiritual leaders or a trained counselor. All self-help books are not equally helpful. Seek advice about additional reading from a professional.
Consult a marriage counselor. Seek help from a licensed therapist who is specifically trained in marital therapy and experienced in dealing with infidelity.
Marriage counseling can help you put the affair into perspective, identify issues that might have contributed to the affair, learn how to rebuild and strengthen your relationship, and avoid divorce — if that’s the mutual goal. Consider asking your counselor to recommend reading material on the subject, too.
Restore trust. Make a plan that will restore trust and result in reconciliation. Agree on a timetable and process. If you were unfaithful, admit guilt and pursue authentic forgiveness. If your partner was unfaithful, when you are able, offer forgiveness. Together, seek understanding.
If both of you are committed to healing your relationship in spite of all the suffering and pain that might be present, the reward can be a new type of marriage that will continue to grow and likely exceed any of your previous expectations.
But that doesn’t mean it’s actually gotten easier to move forward when one partner cheats on another. If there is one thing experts agree on when it comes to dealing with infidelity, it’s that while recovery is possible, rebuilding a healthy relationship is hard work.
“It is a long road to recovery when one partner cheats,” licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago, tells SELF. “Couples do and can stay together after an affair, but it takes a lot of work to repair broken trust.” Klow says most couples don’t recover when one cheats but “those that do can emerge stronger from having gone through the process of recovering from the affair.”
It takes time, however. He says he’s seen it take at least a year, but it’s usually up to two years for a couple to heal.
Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy.D., tells SELF that, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, it’s hard to know for sure how many couples stay together after infidelity. “Despite the ambiguous statistics, it seems reasonable to speculate that more couples are staying together after infidelity than not,” he says.
How To Fix Your Marriage After Lies
There are a few factors that make a couple more likely to try to work it out, psychologist Paul Coleman, Psy.D., author of Finding Peace When Your Heart Is In Pieces, tells SELF—namely, whether they have strong commitments to one another like children or a house. “If a couple is dating or just started living together, there is less of a need to go through the work of rebuilding trust,” he says.
The cheating has to stop.
Experts say there are a lot of things that need to happen in order for a couple to move on. The first, and most important, is for the cheating to stop. “The person who cheated cannot see the person they cheated with again,” says Klow.
Washington, D.C.-based Lena Derhally, M.S., L.PC., and certified Imago therapist, agrees. “I think it’s a waste of time if you’re working through an affair and the person is still seeing the other person, because there’s no trust there,” she tells SELF.
Total honesty is essential.
After it’s clear that the affair is over, Derhally guides her clients through a process in which the person who was cheated on can as as many questions as they want about what happened. This can take multiple sessions, and it depends on complete honesty.
“Some people want to know everything about the affair,” Derhally says. “They want to know where it happened, how many times. Some people don’t want to know as much information. What’s scary about affairs is there’s a lot of unknowns. Then you kind of move the process of being able to vent your feelings to your partner and the process of your partner being able to receive that forgiveness.”
Trust has to be rebuilt.
“Betrayal is the most damaging part of an affair,” Klow says. “The person who was cheated on usually struggles to know what is real anymore. Their ability discerns what is real gets damaged.”
To try to repair this, Derhally says the person who cheated needs to be completely honest, even if it will seemingly hurt their spouse more, since continuing to hide the truth can cause even more damage.
That includes letting the partner who was cheated on see emails and cell phones, which Coleman calls “random ‘drug tests.’” “It seems like the cheater is now on probation, and that is not ideal, but the betrayed partner needs to rebuild trust and faith,” he says. “Knowing they can check on their partner’s phone or computer is a bit reassuring.”
Handing over email and social media passwords can be another sign of trustworthiness. “Giving passwords, things like that, it’s a gift that someone who’s betrayed you gives that says, ‘You can have 100 percent trust in me and you can look through my things and you can do what you need to do,’” Derhally says. “There’s many people I’ve worked with who are very willing to give their passwords and things like that to their spouse.”
Of course, technology can make it possible for cheaters to continue behaving badly without leaving a record by deleting apps from their phones or communicating with affair partners through things like Snapchat. “What I’ve started seeing now, unfortunately, is that there’s ways to still hide things,” Derhally tells SELF. “Not to scare people, but that is a challenge.”
Underlying issues must be addressed.
It’s also important for the couple to evaluate the relationship’s issues beyond the cheating. “A troubled relationship is not an excuse for cheating, but if improvements can be made in broader areas—communication, time together, sex, etc.—it can be reassuring to both that cheating is less likely to occur,” Coleman says.
“A major thing with couples is always to have them realize that there are two people there, and each person has to own their stuff, because blame is a big deal,” Sherry Amatenstein, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist, tells SELF. She also says that it’s important to take advantage of whatever communication skills couples always have, even if they’re not perfect. “I work on having people own their stuff. If they’re willing to get out all their repressed stuff and learn how to communicate better, that certainly can be a help.”
The cheater also needs to not only take full responsibility for the betrayal, but to show patience and understanding that healing from their actions is a long process, Cilona says.
Together, start over again.
Finally, the couple has to essentially recreate their relationship. “The couple needs to let go of the parts of their [partnership] which were not working, and then move towards creating a new dynamic in the relationship,” Klow says. “Couples can emerge from an affair with a better sense of who they each are and what they want from their relationship.”
Amatenstein agrees. “It’s not going to be the same, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be strong in some ways stronger than it was originally,” she tells SELF. “But you can forge something through it.”
Experts say it’s possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they’re willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman. “They have to—otherwise the relationship will never be gratifying.”
But couples who do decide to separate after an affair can still benefit from therapy, especially if they have children. “I always say that couples therapy is not about, ‘Oh wow, the marriage is saved. Because that’s not always gonna be the best outcome,” Amatenstein says. “If each person learns from it and can move on and be in each others lives when they have kids, that’s absolutely a success.”
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