save your marriageDespite the devastation that a marital affair causes, our experience from writing this blog tells us that most betrayed spouses have the desire to save their marriage–and for that matter, so do the cheating spouses.  The affair however, becomes a very large painful bump in the road.

Many have said that they continue to love their cheating spouse, and that due to the many years together and the many shared experiences, they want nothing more than for things to “go back to the way they used to be.”

However, we’re here to tell you that going back to the relationship you once had is probably not where you want to be.  After all, by going back, you are headed right back to where your marital problems started in the first place.

That past relationship is now forever gone. Even though it may be tempting to look at all the happier times of those past years, many married couples  actually carry their past pain right up into the present.

This is one reason that looking to the past and working to get back there can cause you to bring past negativity into your attempts to save and rebuild your marriage, and possibly destroy your chances of building a better relationship with your spouse.

Naturally, after the affair it can be difficult to move into the future if you’re not sure about the foundation of your marriage. But we can attest to the fact that if you are willing to put forth the effort to rebuild your marriage and strengthen your foundation, you can experience a much stronger relationship than you have ever had.

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After the affair, it might seem impossible to imagine that this is possible, and it won’t happen overnight because saving your marriage is a process that takes time.

There is some groundwork that must be accomplished first in order to survive an affair and build a stronger marriage. Basically, you need to resolve old issues first.

Here are some initial steps you can take to help accomplish that:

1)  Determine your marital trouble spots.

You need to define the recurring issues that arise from unmet needs, such as:

  • Fulfilling one another’s need in how to express affection
  • Lack of effective communication
  • The need to spend effective and adequate time together
  • Satisfactorily dividing up various tasks
  • Agreeing on the amount of effort to expend to save your marriage

The trouble spots you are defining are those problems that you constantly argue about and where the needs go unmet.

2)  Agree on the specifics

Once you have defined the trouble spots which lead to arguments and unhappiness in your marriage, you need to specifically state exactly those needs that are important to you to come into agreement on. Write them down so that there are no misunderstandings.

3)  Develop your solutions

Now that you have decided what your needs are and have come to an agreement that these are the items you need to put your effort into, you must now develop solutions together to reach your goals.

For example, if Linda feels that an important need for her is to feel that she is appreciated more, then she might suggest ways for me to be able to do so more effectively.  Perhaps I need to tell her I appreciate her verbally, as well as show it in some other way too.

See also  Survive and Thrive after Infidelity

Now this is a very simplistic example, but often the solution can be as simple as developing a new habit, which might take practice.

Surviving an affair and saving your marriage requires a broad range of effort from both of you, as troublesome issues that took years to develop won’t just go away on their own. To save your marriage and make your relationship all that you want it to be takes commitment from both of you to set aside your old habits, fears and bias and move yourself into potentially uncharted waters.


    18 replies to "Saving Your Marriage by Learning From the Past and Agreeing on the Future"

    • ruth

      When I say I want to go back to the way it used to be I mean I want to go back and have blind trust. I want to be able to look at my h and believe in him. I want to know I can trust him like he can trust me. I don’t want to go back and take each other for granted anymore. The trust issue is what I think everyone is talking about. Its been 1 yr and I dont trust him anymore today as I did when I found out about his PA. Yes he has been trying to rebuild that trust but I just cant trust him. I love him very much we are very close now and spend all our time together and enjoying life as a new, but I guess I just cant trust him. How much time until I can again?

      • Doug

        Ruth, I understand what you’re saying. Like everything else, rebuilding trust is a process. To put a time line on trusting again is difficult to do. I know you’ve been coming here for awhile, so you may have read this post, but it might be helpful to review:

      • Karen

        Ruth: I’m right there with you. And my lack of progress in this area is frustrating to me. I want to check it off my “recovery” list but to no avail. Looks like we’re both making progress in other areas and will keep working on it.
        My H so far is very understanding with my ad infinitum questions and snooping and says he understands why and he deserves it. He just doesn’t give me the feedback I need to gain trust again, and I have to work on accepting that. Sure, he’s transparent and attentive and still remorseful at times. But it’s still not enough. So I’m thinking this is about me, and I have to work on myself to be able to move forward in the trust area. My H is doing the right things lised in the post Doug mentioned (at least most of the time).
        Why do I still focus on the few and far between slipups???

    • Kate

      I agree with what Ruth said. It’s the trust we want to go back to and I don’t think that can ever happen.

      Unfortunately, I had been cheated on in the past by previous boyfriends/significant others and carried a lot of emotional baggage into my relationship with my H. We were together for 5 years before getting married and have been married for 8. He was so understanding of my background and how it affected our relationship, and he showed a genuine desire to help me get past my history and realize he wasn’t like all of them.

      It was only in the past 3-4 yrs that I finally felt I was over the emotional baggage from my past. It was the consistent reassurance and trustworthy behavior my H showed to me over the years that got me to the point where I didn’t doubt him when he would say I never had to worry about him leaving me or losing him. I stopped doubting, I stopped questioning, I felt confident, loved and secure.

      It was that trust I finally gained, that led me to dismiss my gut feelings about our “friend” that ended up stabbing me in the back and believe the two of them when they assured me there was “nothing going on” and that I didn’t have any reason to fear losing my H.

      Yet, on D-Day (March 19, 2010) in a fraction of a second all of those years of building up my self-esteem, working hard to learn to trust others and being helped by my H to learn to trust him were shattered. I feel the same now, about trusting him or any other person, as I did before we met. I look at all of my female friends, new and old, with a slight bit of mistrust. I question my H about his whereabouts, his calls/texts, etc. and he has been fully transparent to me but I still don’t trust him at all.

    • Rushan

      Trust is the same problem with me. He is very open now with his phone and e-mail, but it is veryeasy to delete the phone calls and messages you don’t want some one else to see. He tries his best to please me in every other way, why can’t I trust him? When is this thing going to stop It is almost 2 years now.

    • melissa

      Totally agree with you all, that lack of trust is driving me to despair. I wish it could all be as before, when I thought I could trust him in the same way he could trust me (as Ruth said) but it’s very hard. I do know a couple of women whose H’s have had affairs, both physical and emotional, and they say they can live without trusting their Husbands, it’s just the way it is for them but I’m not sure I can do that, trust is a very important value to me.

    • Rushan

      I am reading a book written by a woman whose husband had an affair, she’s made a story out of it and I am reliving evrything that’s been happening to me and it is almost everything the same in the book. How when we were on holiday he phoned and sms her while I thought we were so happy together. It hurts so much and the trust is very important for me. If I can get that in that head of his maybe our marraige would stand a better chance.

    • Jackie

      How can I trust my H if he won’t even talk about the EA? He still feels when I ask about them, that I am interrogating him. I feel I have a right to know about what happened and with who at work, since it has damaged our marriage and relationship so much. He still feels he must hang on to his private secrets, even though he said the other woman tells him to “go back to your wife and children. Affairs are wrong”. He even admitted that the EA was a fantasy. Is he still in the fog? He does seem more caring lately, but I just don’t trust him because he keeps so much of himself secret. Why can’t he get it? He has been seeing a therapist for a few months. And his new depression meds seemed to have lifted the dark outlook. I feel more hope lately than ever.

    • melissa

      Jackie, we’re in the same boat. My husband will NOT say anything, ‘her’ name cannot be mentioned and if I say anything, he gets very angry and it scares me. I have no idea where this anger comes from but I am the one who suffers from it. I wish he’d see a therapist and sort out the issues which prompted his EA but he won’t, he says it’s all ‘psychobabble’. Good for your husband that he’s taking those steps, I wish you both all the best.

    • Jackie

      Melissa, we just named her “Jane” when we went to Marriage counseling right after H told me. We lasted about 1.5 months in counseling, until H got so angry because counselor said he had to make a choice. H was not willing to let go of his addictive love feeling, even though he knew it was a fantasy. The anger seems to come from need to justify the EA by placing the blame on anyone or thing, because he can not accept it is actually his issues. You and the marriage become the scapegoat. Deep down inside he knows something is wrong, he just can’t admit it is him at this point. It seems to be that internal conflict. It scared me too. There were times I felt I understood how people could hurt their loved ones in this denial stage of EA.

      In the 1 and 3/4 year since D-day, H has tried 4 different depression meds, and 3 different therapist. Most of the therapist lasted about 2 to 4 sessions. He is with one now for about 3 months the longest ever.

      What I learned so far is, as long as they are in that denial state, they will continue to blame, get defensive, and get very angry …mainly at the spouse. Yes H has been unfair and cruel. I also found it pointless talking with H who was rather irrational at times. Don’t believe what he says in this state.

      From reading “Codependent No More”, I understand more about his denial, his addictive behavior to this woman, and getting a high off the relationship which was going nowhere but he was unwilling (or unable) to stop. He basically abandoned his marriage and family for the “Fantasy”.

      He still is distant, but seems to need the distance to figure out himself and what he is doing.

      For the last 4 months, I found that not discussing the affair and the other woman worked best . It seemed to give H a chance to look at himself and figure out what he wanted. Pressure from me to “fix the Marriage” seemed to just make him defensive and focus his attention on what was wrong with us and our marriage.

      Hope this helps you a little. Hang in there, and be the best you can be in spite of what he is doing.

      • PTY

        Can you tell me who wrote the book “Co-dependant No More”, as I have come across several with that or similar titles?

        • Robin

          Melody Beattie Codependent No More

        • Jackie

          The author was Melody Beattie. It really helped many in the affairs support group also.

          • PTY

            Thanks to both Jackie and Robin. I will be on Amazon in a few minutes. At least they are benefitting from this mess.

    • melissa

      Dear Jackie
      Many, many thanks for your words which have given me a different perspective and given me hope. It’s very helpful and I’m going to keep your post so I can refer back to it when I need to.

    • Donna

      Jackie, thank you for your response, what you wrote really resonates well with me. I NEED to STOP talking about affair and just get on with my life and kids etc…. My struggle is this..

      How doy ou cope with the transition stage? My husband is talking back home. Not into my room, into the shaed actually. Says it is not where he should be, but it is one step closer though.. he is back in the house yard etc… He said I need to learn to deal with the transition of him coming back and of him learing to let ow who he loves go. I don’t know how to handle knowing my husband is back home knowing he is thinking of ow and still wants to be with her. How do I deal with this.. how have others dealt with this? I just don’t know if I can honestly do this.

      What are some strategies I can do to get me through this?

      He says that he will not leave me for ow, he would never do that. Says he would go to hell and back to make our marriage work. The only reason he would leave is because of me, of my hurtful words, my anger etc… I need to get a grip on this. I was doing so well. Got in control.. then found out they were seen together ad I got angry again.. overcame my anger and then found out other things about them, so my anger returned and the cycle goes on. How do I control my anger? i want to let it go so desperatly.

      Can anyone PLEASE help me in this!

    • Jackie

      Sounds like your H really wants to be with you, but is having trouble with the addictive nature of affairs. He is having trouble stopping himself. Just like you are have trouble with your angry for what he has done (same problem as me)…which by the way, you have every right to be angry. Only being angry gives him more reason to blame you. The denial of wrong doing is strong, as he tries not to look at himself. It is so much easier to blame you, than look at himself. You need to quiet yourself, so you show only the best of your good nature. He is comparing you with his fantasy. There is no way you can beat the fantasy, because in his eyes she is perfect.

      Do things you love to do. Spend time with the kids. Have fun in your life again. Treat yourself to something you always wanted to do. Make your self feel pretty, just for you. Just live again.

      Let him deal with his problem. You need to lovingly detach from the situation. That is love and care about him, but let him deal with his confusion. Don’t add to his confusion by getting angry, and emotional in front of him. Do it in private if possible. None of this is easy to do by the way. It is a difficult struggle. I find exercise like a long walk, or yoga helps me a lot to reset my moods. Play with the kids. Take them somewhere fun.

    • Donna

      Thank you so much Jackie for your speedy reply. I appreciate what you had to write and I will take it on board. It is hard, but i will be like a redwood tree that can endure the worst kinds of weather and yet stand tall and strong. That is my goal anyway 🙂

      Anyway, I won’t be on here til after Christmas so want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.. we can get through this! And as I am in Australia and will have Christmas first, you will all be in my mind!

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