I remember a particular day a few years ago when I was thinking through the counseling sessions scheduled for the week. At the time, I was working with about a dozen couples who were working at recovering and rebuilding after an affair. In one situation, we had scheduled two couples who had been friends until the husband in one marriage had an affair with the wife in the other marriage.
At that point in time, a number of the couples were at about the same place in rebuilding their marriages. The faithful spouse was really grappling with the pain caused by the affair. That pain had in a real sense entered right into the counseling room for several of the couples. The work that had to be done with these couples in the coming week brought on an overwhelming sense of sadness. This was brought on by the experience of having entered into the pain resulting from the betrayal that each faithful spouse had shared the previous week.
While as counselors, we may get a taste of the pain experienced by the people who come for counseling, that is nothing compared to the pain of being betrayed. Can two people really become a happy couple again after an affair? My answer is a resounding YES, it can be done. I have seen it happen! It is my belief that you can become a happy couple again after an affair if certain factors happen as you recover. Let’s take a look at those factors.
- Gain A Clear Understanding Of Why The Affair Happened! One of the books I have used in helping couples recover from an affair is titled “Torn Asunder” by Dave Carder. The book is published by Moody Press, a Christian publishing house, and there is an accompanying workbook. The workbook is a great tool and requires much work by both parties.
One of the main assertions of the book helping a couple understand “The Message of The Affair.” To recover from an affair, rebuild your marriage, and be happy as a couple; you need to know why the affair happened. There may be several reasons, but you need to know them all. If you are going to rebuild and not go through this again, you need to know why it happened. This will give you the information you need to prevent it from becoming a pattern. Knowing why it happened and making the necessary changes based on that knowledge will help the faithful spouse be able to trust again.
- Work At Rebuilding Trust! Rebuilding trust can be a tricky business once an affair has taken place. The faithful spouse wants to trust and have faith in their partner. However, the “trustometer” of the faithful spouse got broken. The faithful spouse no longer knows if it is possible to trust their heart and mind when it tells them to go ahead and trust their partner. After all, they trusted them in the past and believed they were trustworthy, and that was all proven wrong.
Trust takes time, but it will happen.
As the unfaithful spouse, it is your job to: 1. Be trustworthy all of the time, 2. Accept that your partner will have difficulty trusting at times, 3. Allow your partner all the time they need to rebuild trust without becoming defensive. It is difficult to be happy as a couple if there is no trust. SO, take the time, and do the work necessary to rebuild it.
- Reclaim Lost Territory! When you had affair you probably tainted places, things and words that were once the private, confidential and intimate parts of your marriage. There may be places your spouse no longer feels comfortable going because you went there with the other person. If that person was in your vehicle or in your home or bed, those places are no longer the sacred places shared only with your spouse.
Some things may need to be replaced and some things will need to be reclaimed. This is a process I have helped many couples navigate. It takes work, but it can definitely be done. It is one of the keys to being a happy couple again after an affair.
- Invest In Each Other Again! When you were involved in the affair; you were spending time, energy and probably money investing in another person and not your spouse. Your spouse is hurt and offended by this. To be a happy couple again, all contact must be cut off with the other person. You must deliberately and intentionally commit yourself to investing in your spouse. This MUST become a part of the DNA of your marriage.
Your spouse may at times struggle with your attention to them. It may seem false to them and something you are just doing to try to make up for the affair. If necessary “fake it till you make it,” but invest in your spouse and invest in each other. If the feelings are not there right away, they will follow.
Do the work because it is the right thing to do. Your spouse deserves it, and it will help you to rebuild love, affection and happiness together.
- Be Partners In Rebuilding! I have watched many couples recover from an affair and become happy as a couple again. There are times in most situations when one of the spouses is doing the majority of the work. Sometimes it is the faithful spouse who wants to save the marriage and is hanging in there and working at it while their partner extricates from the affair.
At other times, it is the unfaithful spouse who realizes they have made a tragic error and is trying to win back the love and affection of a spouse who is no longer sure they want or can stay in the marriage. There comes a point in the recovery process where both spouses MUST commit to doing their part in rebuilding their relationship so that they have a happy marriage again.
Recovering from an affair is rarely easy; in fact, it is HARD WORK! I have seen it happen successfully many, many times. While there is a deep wound that will always be there, it is possible to become a happy couple again after an affair. It is worth the effort because there is usually a lot at stake for both spouses.
If you and your spouse are continuing to struggle with the after affects of an affair, there really is hope for you. Don’t stay stuck in the pain. Get help to get past the questions and the lack of trust. Determine now that you are going to take the next step of enlisting the help needed to begin moving forward again in your marriage. Call 630-333-3202 for a free 15-20 minute phone/Skype consultation to tell us more about your situation and find how you can get on the road to recovery.