The whole process of recovering from infidelity is meant to help you analyze the vulnerabilities that existed in your marriage before the affair and develop a strategy to repair or eliminate those vulnerabilities and then emerge from the process with a strong and happy marriage.
Rebuilding the marriage can often take quite awhile to do and is not easy. In fact, couples need to take care not to allow the trauma from the affair to push them into repeating the harmful patterns that may have actually caused the infidelity in the first place.
Patience with one another is key, as both the cheating spouse and the betrayed spouse need time to transition back into the marriage. It may take a long time after the affair for the cheating spouse to reconnect with their spouse due to lingering thoughts and feelings for the affair partner, along with a sense of grief from the loss of their affair relationship.
The betrayed spouse could potentially continue to have the roller coaster ride of emotions, insecurities and thoughts of whether or not they really want to work to save the marriage.
One of my favorite books is “NOT Just Friends” by Shirley Glass. In the book, Glass recommends several steps in the recovering from infidelity process that should be worked on together:
The final farewell. If there was any doubt that the affair has ended, then it’s hard for the betrayed spouse to be convinced that the affair is really over. Glass suggests that the cheating spouse should go so far as to send a letter or make a phone call to the affair partner saying that they have chosen to stay in their marriage out of love and not out of duty or for the sake of the children. Any such communication should be a collaborative effort that should be sensitive to the feelings of each spouse.
Get rid of reminders. The unfaithful spouse needs to ditch all the pictures, letters and other “stuff” that has been kept as a remembrance of the affair. Perhaps it could be cleansing for both of you to burn these souvenirs together.
Answer the questions. As betrayed spouses, we usually have tons of unanswered questions that help us understand the meaning of the affair. I know that I constantly “torture” Doug with my questions at times, but they are questions that I need to know the answers to in order for the recovery process to continue. But what is interesting is that even though I ask him the same questions over and over, there is always new light that is shed on the affair each time I ask.
Repair the damage. The cheating spouse needs to soothe their partner when those nasty triggers pop up. This involves more patience and communication on the part of the unfaithful spouse, but at the same time we as betrayed spouses need to respond favorably to their efforts to comfort us. By doing this, it helps to get past the anger and blame that we all feel.
Readjusting barriers. Glass uses the analogy of “walls” and “windows” when she refers to the process of keeping the love and intimacy within your marriage and protecting it against outside “intruders” at the same time. This involves being transparent with each other including telling the betrayed spouse if ever there might be encounters with the affair partner. This is especially important if the unfaithful spouse still works with their affair partner. This helps to build trust.
Another concept that is important here is to constantly maintain communication as to what is appropriate and acceptable behavior when it comes to interaction with members of the opposite sex.
Restoring trust. This is a subject all by itself, but the important thing to remember here is that openness, accountability, respecting boundaries and honesty are the key elements. If these elements are adhered to, then eventually the cheating spouse will earn the right to have the leash lengthened a bit.
Rewriting memories. I think Glass states this best when she says: “Although you cannot erase the painful past , you can create promising new chapters.” This will allow us to “reclaim territory, activities, and settings that were connected to the affair.” For instance, if a past Christmas was ruined due to the affair, then be sure to make this Christmas an extra special celebration.
Cleaning it up. Infidelity can cause many consequences that reach far beyond just the relationship of the couple themselves. Family members, friends and children can be put in difficult positions as a result. There could also be issues such as pregnancies, STDs, debts or loss of jobs that need to be addressed. Such immense fallout from the affair may need to be addressed with the help of a qualified professional.
When you have successfully worked through this process of recovering from infidelity each of you will have a better chance of healing and ultimately moving on from the trauma that has been caused by the affair to a better, stronger, happier marriage.[wlsp_signup]