An inappropriate relationship can start out so innocently. You make a new friend and talk about general things, then slowly as you get to know each other, you move to more personal topics. Boundaries erode and very quickly an emotional affair turns into a physical one.
If you’ve found yourself feeling butterflies at meeting someone who is not your spouse, or have thoughts along the lines of, “If I weren’t already married, I would marry this person” you must realize that you are on the brink of a physical affair and in the grasps of an emotional one. So how can you survive an affair? And if you’re the betrayed spouse, how do you move on?
The good news is that there is hope. There is a decent number of marriages that survive affairs and, as a result, are stronger and better than they ever were before.
If you and your spouse have had a relatively happy marriage, then you have a great chance at restoring your marriage.
To survive an affair, your marriage will need honesty, forgiveness, and invested effort into rebuilding broken trust, respect, and love.
If you are the offender, then you will have to come clean and be honest. You will have to be transparent when questioned and own up to the betrayal. You must realize that your mate may not be able to forgive the betrayal and accept that as a consequence of your behavior.
The road ahead isn’t going to be easy, but it is possible. You have two choices. Either destroy your family through divorce or live with the consequences and the scars you have inflicted on your family.
You have obliterated their world and their trust in you. You must stop the affair immediately and no longer have any form of contact with your lover and put boundaries and safeguards in place for accountability.
You will not receive forgiveness quickly so don’t expect to. The process could take months and years if your spouse is willing to work through the affair and save the marriage. You must always be empathetic to your spouse even if you feel like the issue should already be put to rest.
You feel betrayed as if the world has been pulled out from under you. The pain of betrayal is so great that you need to take the time to process and grieve before making any decisions.
If you are willing to salvage your marriage, be ready to make a fresh start as well. After the initial questioning, give yourself some time to work through feelings of anger, resentment, pain, shame, depression, and grief.
Experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions is normal. You will need time to restore your confidence so give yourself some time. Remind yourself that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Forgiveness also isn’t a one time deal. It is a choice you will have to make many times during the process of restoration.
Ask yourself, “What will help me trust my husband/wife again?” Transparency is often the number one thing that helps establish that trust. If your spouse is truly repentant, then they will not object to giving you full access to their phone, emails, social media accounts, and schedule.
Regardless of the underlying causes, an affair is never acceptable. There is no excuse the offender can offer that would justify their behavior.
However, the two of you will need to evaluate why and how the affair occurred to prevent it from happening again. Try to remember when the two of you were a solid and happy couple and tried to figure out what went wrong and what changed.
This is not to be a blame game, but an honest evaluation of where certain behaviors and events contributed to the problem. Resolving these underlying issues can help strengthen your marriage and take it to heights you’ve never known before.
Often, the unfaithful spouse feels a lack of love, intimacy, and passion in the relationship and ends up finding it elsewhere. After being betrayed, the victim sure isn’t likely to feel passionate or loving. But, to survive, you will have to work on recreating the passion that first brought you together. It is love that can slowly fade the pain and horror of an affair into the background.
To survive, you will need to protect your marriage going forward and learn to meet each other’s emotional needs. Don’t go through this journey alone. Instead, reach out to experienced counselors and invest in books written by experts on this topic.
There is hope at the end of the tunnel. And not just hope, but love and joy as well.
Featured Image Courtesy: Find New Passion
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