Restoring your marriage after an affair
Infidelity can be emotionally devastating and painful. However, extramarital affair does not necessarily mean an end to a marriage. It is possible to rebuild and save a marriage after an extramarital affair.
Many problems can strain a marital relationship. Financial problems, parenting issues and health/sex problems can be challenging to married couples.
However, there is probably nothing as destructive and heartbreaking as infidelity. When trust, which forms the foundation of a marital relationship, breaks down, it could cause a lot of emotional stress to the couple and the family members.
However, divorce is not necessarily the only option after infidelity. If the couples have the determination and share the mutual goal of restoring the relationship, it is possible to rebuild a more honest, stronger and healthier relationship.
What is infidelity?
Infidelity may have varied meanings to different couples. In general, a person is considered having an extramarital affair when he/she:
engages in sexual intercourses with someone other than his / her partner
engages in a secretive relationship with someone other than his / her partner
experiences a stronger emotional attachment to someone than his / her partner
Discovery of an extramarital affair
It can be emotionally straining when an extramarital affair is first discovered. The couples could experience strong emotions such as rage, shame, frustration, depression, shock, guilt and remorse. It could also be extremely confusing for both partners, not knowing whether they want to terminate or save the relationship. At this stage, it is helpful to:
Give each other some space
It is emotionally intense when an affair is first discovered. It is best to give each other some space.
It is helpful to share your feelings with trusted loved ones and friends or professional marriage counsellor. Their objective and non-judgmental support can assist you to clarify your feelings and put the situation into perspective.
Be patient and take your time
The initial discovery can trigger strong and negative emotions. It may be difficult to figure out what needs to be and should be done. It is best to postpone any discussions with your partner until constructive conversations can be made.
Restoring a broken marriage
It takes time to heal and restore a broken marriage after an extramarital affair. The following can be done to facilitate the healing process.
The person being unfaithful should end the affair and stop all interactions and communications with the other person.
Be honest and open
Although it could be extremely difficult, it is worthwhile to have an honest and open discussion with your partner.
Consider shared goals
It may take time to figure out what has happened. However, it is important to ask whether reconciliation is an option and whether both partners want to restore the marriage. It is important for both partners to acknowledge that it takes time, effort, determination and commitment to save a broken marriage.
Consult an experienced marriage counsellor
Marriage counselling can help to put the extramarital affair into perspective, identify the issues which may have caused the affair and highlight resources which can strengthen the relationship.
Rebuild trust and confidence
It takes time to rebuild trust and heal a broken relationship. If reconciliation is the mutual goal, it is important for both partners to make commitment and effort in the healing process. It is best for both partners to attend marriage counselling jointly to confirm commitment and prevent secrecy.
Forgiveness could be the best gift that you could give to yourself and your partner. This would not be easy at the beginning but it could become easier over time.
The way forward
Every marital relationship and its problems are unique. Sometimes, the marriage can be so badly damaged by the affair that it is impossible to save or should not be saved. However, if both partners are committed and determined to restore the marriage, it is possible to rebuild a much stronger and more intimate relationship.