An affair can greatly damage a marriage, but by being honest and open you can repair the relationship. The first step toward reconciliation requires that both the “cheater” and the “cheatee” commit to wanting to make amends and save the relationship. The next thing they both must do is admit that the affair happened. Ignoring it and moving on will serve no purpose.

Assuming the cheating spouse has decided they would like to remain in the marriage, they must completely sever all ties with the other person. This is an essential step if the marriage is to be saved. If the other person is a friend, coworker, or even worse, a family member, this will be very difficult. In extreme cases a couple may have to move or the cheater may need to find a new job. If the cheater is still exposed to the other person it is possible that the affair may resume at some point in the future, and trust may not be fully restored. If the cheater agrees to end the affair and never go near the other person again, this will help to restore trust since this gesture lets the faithful spouse know that the cheater is serious about their commitment to rebuilding the marriage

Once these steps have been taken, the unfaithful spouse could go through a period of withdrawal and mourning. They may need time to grieve a part of their life that is over and might have meant a lot to them. That the affair filled a need for them and is now gone will be hard for the faithful spouse to accept, but it is important for this stage to happen uninterrupted and in its own time. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. The time involved depends on the depth of the emotional loss for the cheater. The cheater may feel frustrated, angry, and sad during this time. Only after this period is over can wholehearted healing really begin.

Next, the cheater must be willing to listen to their spouse share hurt feelings about the infidelity. This can be especially difficult for men, not because they are indifferent to their spouse\’s feelings, but because they find it too painful to hear. Accepting and admitting to the hurt they\’ve caused their wives through their infidelity is often more than men can bear. However, it must be part of the healing process for the wounded spouse, either man or woman. If you\’re guilty of infidelity, you must accept the fact that your spouse is going to resent you, feel betrayed by you, and is going to need to tell you this.

In addition, the cheating spouse will have to commit to being 100% transparent about their lives. The faithful spouse must be confident that that cheater is where they say they are and is doing what they say they are doing. This may entail numerous phone calls and other forms of “checking up” before trust is restored, but to quote Dr. Phil, “Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.”

In order to survive, the marriage has to improve and become better than ever. The cheater\’s mission will be to do their best to meet all of their partner\’s emotional needs (for companionship, for sexual fulfillment, for conversation, for family commitment, for financial security, etc.). The cheating partner must make the other feel more loved than he or she has ever felt before, and then the pain of the infidelity may instead create a path toward marital bliss. Most affairs can be considered escapes. No one wants to escape paradise. If we make our marriage a sanctuary and a heaven-on-earth, we can heal from infidelity and the only affair we will ever consider is a life-long love affair with our spouse.