I have a small blog on which I share how I was able to move past my husband’s affair and salvage our marriage. Probably the most common comments and questions I get have to do with fixing, saving, or rescuing the marriage and the trust following infidelity and cheating. In my experience, it’s more common than you might think that both parties want to remain married, but often neither is sure how to heal the pain and restore the trust and intimacy. Although the best way to do this will vary from couple to couple, I believe there are several universal things, that, in most marriages, need to occur to be able to truly move on with your whole heart. I will discuss these things, from the perspective of both the person who cheated and the person who was cheated on, in this article.
Accountability And Responsibility Are Vital: I can not tell you how many times I see spouses who were cheated on who are willing to take on at least some of the blame for the cheating in order to save the marriage. I often hear comments like “well, I didn’t show him enough attention,” or “I didn’t make time for him.” These things may well be true. However, it’s very important that it’s understood that only one person chose to have an affair and that the responsibility for this decision only lies with that person. Because if the person who was cheated on takes on the blame, they will often deep down very much resent it and this will manifest itself in very negative and sabotaging ways that become a very negative cycle that’s difficult to stop.
So, to avoid all of this from the beginning, it’s vital that the spouse who cheated takes responsibility, but that the spouse who was cheated on makes a mental note of any contributing factors for future fixing and reference.
It’s also perfectly normal that the person who was cheated on will be unsure if they can trust their spouse. They will want to know where they are or who they are with, but they often feel quite guilty about this for whatever reason. The best way to circumvent this is for the cheating spouse to offer up their email passwords and their cell phone without being asked. Many people resent this or balk at this, but I find that, even if these things are never used or the other partner never even checks them, these gestures go a long way toward showing your partner that you have nothing to hide and are trustworthy.
It’s Important That Both Parties Be Honest About What They Want: One of the biggest problems in marriages after the fall out of an affair is that both parties are more worried about how they are being perceived by the other than about communicating honestly. The cheating spouse is usually afraid that they will look like a pushy creep if they try to initiate affection, while the cheated on spouse will deep down want this affection and reassurance, but is afraid of looking needy or weak if they ask for it.
These mixed signals can cause awkwardness and a feeling of things just not being right or there being too much tension. It’s important that you tell your spouse how you really feel and what you really want. I often find that, deep down, people really do want to restore closeness and trust, but there are so afraid that their spouse doesn’t feel the same way and they are terrified of rejection.
Another thing that I find a lot is that the partner who was cheated on will often worry incessantly about what other people think. I often hear “I really do want to save my marriage, but I’m afraid I’ll look like a pushover or like I don’t have a backbone.” I used to worry about what my girlfriends thought, so much so that I eventually refused to talk about it. But, here’s the thing. Your marriage is no one’s business but your own. And your girlfriends or your mother are not going to be there for you in your home on most occasions and likely aren’t raising your children with your or growing old with you, but your husband is. Only worry about the two people involved and don’t worry about what others think.
Restoring Self Worth: The final thing that I want to talk about is the hit that your self-confidence often takes after an affair. You may feel like a victim or the walking wounded. You may feel unattractive, unsure of yourself, and stuck. It’s often so easy to get “caught up” in the negative thinking that can go hand in hand with an affair. It’s important that you take a break from the “us” every now and again and focus on the “you.” Do the things you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid or hesitant. Address those things that have always made you unsure. I honestly did not believe my husband could still find me attractive until I started to believe this about myself.
Understand That This Can Be A New Beginning Rather Than The End: I can not tell you how many people tell me that their marriages are solid or even better after an affair. It’s not at all uncommon. Affairs often bring light to the things you’ve been long neglected. Often, a new urgency emerges and both parties no longer take one another for granted. The truth is, you don’t have to take an affair lying down or see it as a death sentence to your marriage. If you use it as a wake-up call, it can propel you, and your marriage, forward.
Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work, I did on myself, my self-esteem is at an all time high. I know no longer worry that my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/