Repairing a Marriage after an Affair

Not all extramarital affairs are alike. They’re caused by different reasons and involve different kinds of infidelity. No two couples are alike either, so there’s no “tried and true” method for repairing the broken trust of infidelity. But although your impulse may be to rip it off your finger … hold on to your wedding ring.

For although it may be difficult, it you want it badly enough — it may also be possible to repair your marriage.

Letter of Agreement
Although sex is involved in an extramarital affair, cheating is about more than just a physical relationship. Infidelity is a form of communication. It’s a way for one spouse to say to his/her mate, “Our relationship is not working for me” without having to acknowledge the issues, explore them, or resolve them.

First both partners must agree to make a conscious decision and conscious efforts to work on:

  • Expressing emotions and letting go
  • Learning to trust again
  • Striving for understanding instead of judgment
  • Offering and accepting forgiveness
  • Moving on

Open Sesame
Understandably, the most pronounced effect of an affair is the distance that grows between people who were once close. The betrayed partner may be filled with rage and feel closed off both mentally and emotionally to the cheater, but still want to save the marriage. At the same time, the cheater may be feeling misunderstood and grieving the loss of the affair, but still want to save the marriage, too.

Both partners will experience a range of emotions, from rage, anger, and self-pity to sadness, depression, and despair. It’s important to allow those feelings to come out honestly and openly. The sooner they’re expressed, the sooner these negative feelings can be healed. The alternative is to resume the distance and secrecy that were the hallmark of the affair.

If repairing a relationship is the mutually desired goal, then the affair must be “de-fanged.” After expressing the hurt and anger caused by an affair, it’s important for both parties to use it as a tool to learn about their marriage, not as a weapon to hurt one another. The affair becomes a “magnifying glass” that can illuminate problems that exist in the marriage, and the experience, though painful, can be used to build a different level of intimacy, sharing and trust.

Ask the Pros
For spouses coping with the aftermath of infidelity, the intervention of a trained professional may be needed. Very few husbands and wives have the skill or training to work through some of the most serious issues of infidelity and its causes on their own. But aided by a therapist or counsellor, many couples are able to repair their marriages and build a solid future despite their rocky past.

And if in the end, you are unable to resolve your marital problems, your options for separation and/or divorce remain open.



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