Many of you are struggling with putting a finger on just what caused your spouse to cheat on you. After all, you may believe that everything in your marriage was just fine until the affair happened. If you analyze your marriage over time though, you might be able to determine the underlying circumstances that contributed to the deterioration of your marriage and your spouse’s affair.
One effective communication tool that you might want to try as you work on healing from an affair is to each create a marriage journal beginning as far back as your courtship and progressing up to the point at which the affair occurred. This marriage journal can be a great aid in surviving infidelity.
The marriage journal can help you figure out when things began to go wrong in your relationship, and now after the affair, it can help to bring to light these circumstances so that you can guard against history repeating itself.
After my emotional affair, Linda spent a good deal of time asking herself how it could have happened. She played our marriage out over and over again in her head for any clues. Eventually, we had these discussions together and it proved to be an eye-opening experience for both of us. And because we did this together, it was not an argument or an inquisition. Rather, it was like a project—a project to save our marriage.
Here’s what you do. Separately make a time line of your relationship from courtship through the years of your marriage, and rate each year as to your level of happiness and satisfaction. After you each do your rating, discuss the particulars and how you felt during those times. You might be surprised to find that you both have similar ratings at similar time frames.
By performing this exercise Linda and I started to feel much closer to each other. We were able to recount the times when things were very good, what attracted us to each other and what we loved about each other. This made it easier to understand what happened and when in a certain year of our marriage, the rating seemed to go down. When we came to a year when there was a low rating, we each made a list as to what was going on that year that could have caused it to have a low rating.
For instance, in our case, we noticed that a year or so after the birth of our son, there were a lot of added pressures financially that caused me to work much more, which in turn took me away from home, leaving much of the household duties in Linda’s hands. We stopped doing fun things together and generally both of us felt physically and mentally worn out. A consequence of this was that we weren’t spending as much time working on us and our marriage.
The ironic thing is that our rating went up for a while after that, but eventually went down for many of the same reasons. Again, history repeating itself.
Even now there are times when one or both of us is bombarded with work or other responsibilities that creates a disconnect of sorts between us. However, now we are much more aware of the signs and are able to nip it in the bud quickly.
Even as recently as last week, we noticed that we weren’t able to be with each other much due to some work and various other commitments with our children. We noticed it right away and we were able to sneak away for a bit one night for a quickie date and a little bedroom time. We also are planning another little getaway that we can look forward to. Again, it’s nothing extravagant, but it’s something we enjoy and it allows us time together to talk, plan and laugh.
Surviving infidelity isn’t easy, and you would hate to go through all the work only to have it happen again because you let history repeat itself. Try journaling your relationship and marriage history to find out the why’s and when’s. Continue to update your journal frequently now and as time goes on. Discuss your feelings about your ratings with each other and use it as a guide for your future life together.