Cheating can be one of the most devastating things to a marriage. Partners lose trust, feel betrayed and deceived, and are extremely hurt if they have learned that a partner has been unfaithful to them.
Many marriages end in divorce after one partner has cheated. But if both partners want to remain together and are committed to giving the marriage a second chance, then it is possible to have a successful—and thriving—marriage even after infidelity.
It will take time to rebuild trust and respect, and it will be a difficult road for both partners to be on, but with the right mindset and consistent couples counseling your marriage can heal and be great once again.
Here are some things you can do and expect on the road to recovery:
1. End the affair
If you want to salvage your marriage, you have to end the affair immediately. This means cutting off all contact with the other man or woman and vowing to never speak to them again. Do not try to stay friends with that person. If contact is still there, you will likely eventually find your way back into each other’s arms. Maintaining contact prevents rebuilding trust too.
2. Take responsibility for the relationship
Affairs usually happen because someone isn’t happy in the relationship. Both parties should examine the relationship and see what went wrong in order for the affair to have happened. This isn't to say that the partner who was cheated on is at fault for the affair. It simply means that both people are a part of the relationship and have a responsibility to check on its health and stability regularly.
3. Discuss your feelings
This can be done in a counseling setting, where a mediator can help you steer the conversation in a more effective way. Both parties should discuss how they feel about the affair and the relationship. The person who did the cheating should take responsibility and discuss why they did it. This can help uncover any other relational problems that may not be known to both parties. Being open and honest through this process is key to forgiveness and recovery.
4. It may take awhile to forgive
For the person who was cheated on, they are likely to have continued feelings of betrayal, rage, anger, sadness, and deception for awhile. Don’t expect all those feelings to go away overnight and for them to trust you immediately after the affair has ended. It will take time to heal the wounds and for them to be able to begin to trust and respect you once again. Give them the time and space they need to move through it.
5. Find support
Talking with others who have been through similar situations will help you feel less alone and isolated. There may be a support group in your area to help you through this difficult time. If not, there are online options to connect with others, like the Guy Stuff blog articles on cheating spouses where others leave comments supporting each other.
6. Spend time together not discussing the affair
If every time you are together the affair is the topic at hand, it will be very hard to move forward in your relationship. Don’t let the affair take over the relationship completely. Spend time doing things together that you both like and that bring you back to enjoying being with each other again. Share what you like about one another and why you’re committed to making the relationship work.
7. Be committed to the relationship
If you truly want to make the relationship last, you will have to work hard at it. Both partners should practice respect and sacrifice for one another. Even if you were the one who was wronged, love requires us to eventually forgive and move on.
Facing infidelity in your marriage can feel like an insurmountable hurdle. But with commitment, passion, honesty, counseling, a good support system and a lot of unconditional love, couples can come through an affair with a marriage stronger than it ever was before.