You can´t possibly fathom the pain and damage an affair can bring to marriage unless you experience it firsthand. Never in your wildest dream did you expect the person whom you value above anything, whom you trust and love with all your heart, to cheat on you. The pain is numbing, it feels like your whole world is crushing and the future is bleak. At this point, you´d think that people who tell you you´ll get over it are crazy!
Where would you go from here? Are you staying or leaving? Would you just throw your hands in the air and say “it´s over!”, or are you going to fight and save your marriage?
Unless there are children, it´s easier to turn your back and break up. But for couples who have kids, the kids are usually the main reason why the offended party would consider staying and working to save the marriage. You no longer think only of yourself. There are kids whose future and welfare you need to consider – kids who need both their mom and dad, kids who need an intact family. You may also choose to stay married after an affair because you still love and are committed to your spouse.
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Here´s the good news. Studies and surveys indicate that the percentage of people who stay married after an affair is around 75 – 80 percent (with around 20 – 25 percent of couples eventually divorcing because they just couldn’t over come the affair.) So you actually have a bigger chance of saving your marriage than you originally thought.
But how do you save your marriage after an affair? How would you restore the happiness and fulfillment in your marriage?
1. Know the root cause and work from there
They say it takes two to tango. It takes two to make marriage work and it also takes two to save the marriage after an affair. The first step is to identify the reason why one spouse had an affair. While studies indicate that a significant number of people who committed an affair are happy and satisfied in their marriage, a bigger percentage of people who had affair aren´t satisfied or fulfilled in their marriage.
It´s important that the couple objectively discusses the reasons why one have had an affair. Is he always missing the cookie? Is she always left out because the husband works all day and all night and have no time for her? Does he not feel appreciated at home, wife always nags and belittles him? Is long distance marriage too much for him to bear? Etc.
2. Accept and acknowledge each one´s shortcomings
The spouse who had the affair should genuinely seek forgiveness while the one who´s on the wrong end of his/her spouse´s affair should recognize and acknowledge his/her own shortcomings too. Finger pointing, defensiveness and making excuses will not help. You both need to humble yourself. What are your actions, habits, mistakes, or shortcomings that may have led the other to jeopardise the marriage?
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3. Be forgiving
It´s not easy, it takes time, but the offended spouse needs to learn to forgive totally. Unless you forgive your spouse entirely, you won´t be able to let go of the pain, overcome the affair, and restore happiness in your marriage.
4. Constant communication
A broken communication usually contributes to the affair. She´s not able to give his needs because she´s worn out from the day´s hectic schedule and he does not understand that. He asks to make love at night, she refuses, he gets mad. But instead of letting her know how important it is to him, he keeps his disappointment to himself and seek to be satisfied somewhere else. Such is an example of a broken communication.
Now that you´re both committed to saving your marriage, you have to work on a good communication. There are things that you need to discuss in a sensitive manner. The more you constantly communicate, the more you quickly achieve healing.
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5. Avoid discussing the past
Reminding him about his affair every time you get mad at him does no good because it constantly reminds him of his sins which he already had sought forgiveness and repented. It also tells him that you haven´t really forgiven him and that you don´t trust him. This will create distance between you.
Always discussing about the past is like peeling off a healing wound. You don´t just hurt your spouse, you hurt yourself too. Put the affair in the past, learn to forget and forgive.
6. Learn from what happened
What did you learn from the experience? Did you realize that your spouse took you for granted because you gave him all your time and love without leaving anything for yourself? Then it´s time to love yourself first. Did you learn that she´s always too tired to make love with you in the evening not because she´s not attracted to you but because she´s really just too spent juggling her day job and house chores? Then you should seek to help her out and lessen her burden so she can have enough energy left for the evening. Did your husband have the affair after you left him to work abroad? Then you should seek to not be apart once again.
Whatever lesson you learned from the affair, use it to strengthen your marriage.
7. Be sincere in making efforts to restore the marriage
It takes two to save your marriage and it takes both of you to restore the happiness in your marriage. Be sincere in making up and working for your marriage success. If you´re the one who had the affair, be true in asking for forgiveness and don´t ruin the second chance given to you. Don´t take advantage of this forgiveness. Maybe you think that since you´ve gotten away with your first escapade you´ll also get away the second time? It´s unlikely you´ll get a third or fourth chance.
If you´re on the wrong end of your spouse´s affair, being sincere in saving the marriage means helping yourself get over the pain and not dwelling in it. You should choose to stay in marriage because you still love your husband and you still believe in this marriage, that you´re capable of being happy again. Sticking up together just for the sole reason of dependency, comfort, or the children doesn´t guarantee a happy marriage.
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8. Be closer to God
Make your marriage a threesome, God being the third. Make God the center of your marriage. Pray together, ask for His guidance. He will help you overcome all the obstacles.
Pray separately. If you´re at the wrong end of your spouse´s affair, ask God to ease your pain. Submit your heavy burden to Him and He´ll carry it for you. He will help you forgive, He will help you heal.
If you´re the one who had the affair, seek God´s forgiveness. You violated one of His commandments and you first sinned to Him. Ask for strength to help you overcome your weaknesses. Ask for help in forgiving yourself.
Many couples whose marriage was at some point shaken by an affair could attest that working to save your marriage may be hard but is so worth it in the end. Many have restored their marriage and enjoyed a happy and stronger relationship the second, or the third time. You can too!