Statistics in the United States reveal that half of all marriages will end in divorce. The top reasons typically given for divorce are financial problems and infidelity, and it is the latter we will look at in this article. Does infidelity necessarily mean the end of a good marriage? The answer, believe it or not, is “no”.
This is not to say that it will be easy, or that reconciliation will occur overnight, but with the proper steps and a little patience, not to mention a lot of work on the part of both parties, there is no reason that your marriage cannot be restored to the solid union you always hoped it would be. There are thousands of couples across the country who are living proof.
As I mentioned, it takes work from both parties. The cheating spouse has most of the work to do, and not necessarily the hardest, either. If you wear the title of cheating spouse, and if you want to have any hope of ever having your marriage back, then here is what you should do.
End the affair. Stop seeing the other person immediately, for any reason, for any length of time. The only way an affair will end is for somebody to completely cut off all channels of communication. This not only means no dinner dates or sex, but also phone conversations, personal meetings, or coffee breaks. If you happen to work with the “other person” keep your encounters strictly business, and make sure your spouse knows about any and all interaction that occurs. This can go a long way towards helping re-establish some measure of trust between you and your spouse.
Answer ALL questions. Your spouse is going to have questions, and no matter how uncomfortable it may be, the best thing to do is answer them as openly and honestly as possible. Studies have demonstrated that couples where the spouse was most honest about what had happened stood the best chance of recovery, while those who didn’t talk about it stood the worst chance. Communication rebuilds trust.
Empathize with your spouse. They are going to be hurt by this. The degree to which reconciliation is successful may be directly proportionate to the amount of empathy you demonstrate towards them.
Maintain open communication, even over the long haul. Not everyone heals at the same speed. Your spouse may have questions or want to talk about it months, or even years, after the affair has ended. Understand this need and be willing to do so, for their sake and yours.
Take responsibility for what happened. It never works to blame the other person for your affair. No matter what led up to it, you’re the one who cheated, and you’re the one who blew it. Blame will not heal anything, however, sincere regret and remorse will. Apologize, not just once but as many times as it takes, then put substance to that apology by vowing never to commit adultery again and (get ready) keep your promise. Words are just words, but putting action to them will restore a great deal of the trust that was lost.
Don’t expect quick or easy forgiveness. You have hurt your spouse on a level that you cannot comprehend. Expect the tears, pain, and anger.
If you want your marriage back, you have a long road ahead of you, but believe it or not, you don’t have the hardest part of the deal.
Look for the next installment where we offer advice and hope for the betrayed spouse.