Life certainly has its challenges, but little compares to the enormous task of healing from infidelity. Many marriage therapists have well confirmed that the clients who visit them have confessed that the discovery of an affair was the lowest, darkest moment of their entire lives. And because affairs shatter the general trust, many people seriously contemplate ending their marriages. However, it is important to know that, no matter bleak things might seem, it is possible to revitalize a marriage wounded by infidelity. It is not so easy: there are no quick fix, one-size-fits-all solutions. But years of experience has taught that there are definite patterns to what people in loving relationships do to bring their marriages back from the brink of disaster.
Surviving infidelity involves teamwork; both spouses should be fully committed to the hard work of getting their marriages back on track. The unfaithful partner must be willing to end the affair and do whatever it takes to win back the trust of his/her spouse. The betrayed spouse should be willing to find ways to manage overwhelming emotions so, as a couple, they can start to sort out how the affair happened, and more importantly, what needs to change so that it never happens again. Although no two people, marriages or paths to recovery are similar, it is helpful to know that healing typically happens in stages.
In a poll of over 136,000 women conducted by WomanSavers.com, over 55% of women caught their man cheating red handed and 36% suspected him or cheating but never caught him. If you recently discovered that your spouse has been unfaithful, you will certainly feel a whole range of emotions: shock, rage, hurt, devastation, disillusionment, and intense sadness. You may have difficulty in sleeping or eating, or feel completely obsessed with the affair. If you are a touching person, you may cry a lot. You may want to be alone, or on the contrary, feel at your worst when you are. Although you may be telling yourself that your marriage will never improve, it will, but not immediately. Surviving from infidelity takes a long time. Just when you think things are looking up, something reminds you of the affair and you go downhill quickly. It is easy to feel discouraged unless you both keep in mind that intense ups and downs are the norm.
Although some people are more curious than others, it is very common to have lots of questions about the affair, especially initially. Although the details may be uncomfortable to hear, simply knowing your spouse is willing to “come clean” helps people recover. As the unfaithful spouse, you may feel tremendous remorse and guilt, and prefer avoiding the details entirely, but experience shows that this is a formula for disaster.
Another necessary ingredient for rebuilding a marriage involves the willingness of unfaithful spouses to display sincere regret and remorse. You cannot apologize often enough. You need to tell your spouse that you will never commit this again. Although, since you are working diligently to repair your relationship, you may think your intentions to be monogamous are obvious, they are not. Tell your spouse of your plans to take your promise to your marriage to heart. This will be particularly significant during the early stages of recovery when mistrust is rampant.
Ultimately, the key to healing from infidelity involves forgiveness, which is often the last step in the healing process. The unfaithful spouse can do everything right and still, the marriage will not mend unless the betrayed person forgives his or her spouse and the unfaithful spouse forgives him or herself.