A man recently wrote to us asking for help. He and his wife were separated because of serious relationship problems and he wanted to repair his marriage.
He shared with us that he’d tried “begging and pleading” with her to come back to him, but that only pushed her further away.
According to this man, communication has completely broken down between the two of them and he wants to know what to do to fix things so that they can be happy together again.
We don’t know the the specifics or what happened in this man’s relationship to bring he and his wife to such a painful place, but we do know that infidelity can cause this level of deep disconnection.
The betrayal of trust from an emotional affair (or any other kind of affair) can leave a couple foundering for a way back to one another. Here’s our advice to this man’s request for help– and it’s for you too if you’re in a similar place in your own relationship…
Ask yourself if you’ve reached the point of no return.
Let us be very clear here…
We are NOT suggesting that you immediately give up or abandon all hope of re-connecting with your partner and rebuilding trust after an affair. What we ARE inviting you to do is to get clear about what you’re no longer willing to tolerate.
This can be uncomfortable and maybe even a frightening line of inquiry. Once you begin to ask yourself what you’re no longer willing to tolerate in your relationship (and your life overall), it’s really tough to merely go back to the way things were.
The point of no return may be about setting boundaries and making sure your partner really has ended the emotional affair, but it’s about much more too.
When you clarify what the “point of no return” means to you, you’re affirming to yourself – and to your partner too – that you’re done pretending everything is okay when it isn’t. You’re calling a halt to certain behaviors (that both of you engage in), ways of interacting and even aspects of your lives.
The “point of no return” could actually be the best thing that’s ever happened to you and to your relationship. It could mark your decision to:
- Stop avoiding talking about the affair.
- Stop living in the past and only reacting to the affair.
- Stop letting your anger, resentment or fear rule.
- Start asking for transparency and making trust-building agreements.
- Start looking for signs to let you know whether or not your partner is trustable.
When you reach the point of no return in your relationship, it’s not helpful to lay out ultimatums or attempt to force your partner to change. The man who wrote to us discovered that begging and pleading only pushed his wife away and, in the same way, blameful and angry demands will only inflict more damage to your fragile relationship.
Do share with your partner what you’ve discovered about yourself and what you’re committed to not continuing or not bringing any more of to your relationship. Do share what you will be changing as you move forward. This can include a description (followed by demonstrations) of how you intend to communicate differently, how you will shift your focus and priorities or how you have started to cultivate specific habits that foster openness and honesty.
When you discover your point of no return, your next steps are to follow through accordingly. It can be easy to slip back into the routine of what you’ve always done. Write down your plan on a piece of paper and check in with yourself and with your partner periodically to see how you both are doing sticking with the changes.
As you move through this process, stay awake and aware. If your partner is unwilling to cooperate or if he or she continues behaviors that further erode trust, your point of no return may be the literal question: “Is it in my best interests to stay in this relationship?”
This is another uncomfortable question that requires clear-mindedness and attention to facts (and not to the guesses or stories you may be telling yourself). We’ve put together a free report to help you avoid the common mistakes that people make when trying to decide whether to stay in or leave their relationship. Click here to access it now.