No matter how smart and emotionally mature you are, when your marriage has suffered an affair, recovery is tough. There is no silver bullet, no simple remedy. The recovery process is often lengthy and non-linear, with two steps forward and one back. In other words, it takes time and patience to get to a place where you can move forward unfettered by residual effects of the affair, both in your personal life and in your marriage.
That’s right. There are two areas of recovery, which makes total recovery even more complicated than you might think. Personal recovery means you have passed the point of replaying the injury your spouse did to you, that you no longer pick at the scab of regret, and your anger has faded to something like forgiveness. If you are the spouse who had the affair, recovery means you have experienced true remorse and you are no longer in the risky situation you were in when you were tempted to have an affair in the first place.
Marriage recovery is important to achieve in addition to personal recovery. Marriage recovery is more than just staying married. It is repairing your bond so you are in a fully loving and strong relationship, maybe even more than before the affair. Sounds nice, but it isn’t easy.
The injured partymust find a way to heal. This will take time. During the healing period, this person should avoid any drastic decisions because it’s too easy to let your raw emotions dictate your actions. This is a period when you need to develop a long-term mind-set. Think about what your priorities are and how your decisions now will influence your life in the future. Try to think if there’s any way you may have aided and abetted your spouse’s infidelity. Try to imagine a time in the future when you can work together with your spouse as a team.
The person who had the affair must find a way to understand the hurt and devastation his partner is suffering. Even though your spouse may have contributed in some way, you have still caused your partner great pain. Your job now is to do everything possible to make amends. The first order of business is to severe relations with the person you had the affair with. Finally and for good. Then you have to be patient. You have to answer all questions your spouse has. You have to help your spouse get through this tough period in any way you can. You have to wait until your spouse is ready to let you back in the relationship.
Both parties must commit to open communication,which may mean learning new skills. Like thinking before you speak and actively listening to your spouse. And that means being open about everything important in your lives, not just the affair. That means building trust over time. That means thinking about the importance of honesty and never violating your vow to remain responsible in your communication.
Both parties must commit to healing as a couple, which, again, will take time and patience. You must make an effort to do more than just rebuild your relationship. You must build a new and better bond. How to do that? Learn from your experience. Understand why the affair happened and what you can both do to prevent it in the future. Take whatever concrete steps that requires. And then you must make an active effort to create great memories together. To go forward as a team of two who love and trust one another.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact