Discovery of an affair in a marriage is akin to discovering terminal cancer in the body. Infidelity eats away at the relationship without mercy. Although there are many incurable cancers, some patients can be saved. The same is true for some marriages that suffer the blows of an affair.
Seeking counseling after an affair is the first step. There are a number of viable resources for couples going through the emotional stages that ultimately accompany an affair. Speaking to an outside source that holds no ties (emotionally or otherwise) to the couple is essential to regaining focus where focus is needed most.
Communication is lost if one partner in a marriage felt the need to go outside the marriage to receive what he or she is not getting from the relationship. This is usually the case, although there are other reasons people find themselves embroiled in an extramarital affair. One spouse may feel as though the communication is lost where the other one feels as though everything is just fine. The counselor helps get communication back on track between couples. That is just part of the marriage surviving an affair though. The couple has to work at communicating their needs to each other instead of seeking it elsewhere.
Communication problems begin when one person in the relationship feels intimidated or fearful of talking to the other. If one partner feels some type of fear in speaking out on important issues, the marriage will suffer greatly. One partner will seek out someone to whom they can talk without fear of the reaction. Communication problems can be resolved. The first step is counseling. The next step is talking with each other whether it might cause pain or not. The only way to correct the problem is to communicate those hurtful feelings. Through pain, a completely new level of respect and love is born.
3. Personal Change
In order to recover from an exposed affair, personal change has to occur on the part of both people in the marriage. The change has to come from within each person. Although no one should ever cheat on their spouse, there are usually underlying causes that convince the cheater that he or she acted in a justified manner. Both people in the marriage have to work on self-improvement in order for the marriage to survive.
The cheater must learn to discover what makes him or her feel justified in having a relationship outside the marriage. He or she must consider what it would feel like to have the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. He or she must then be able to talk to his or her spouse about those feelings. Committing adultery only serves to further damage an already rocky relationship.
The spouse that is “innocent” (in this scenario) must also confront things about him or herself that may not be pleasant. Personal change can only occur when there is a willingness to face the ugliness that may live within yourself. It is easy to point fingers, tell someone he or she was wrong and that he or she needs to change. It is quite another to admit that there may be things wrong within your own personality that may need reexamination.
Changes to personality traits such as jealousy, anger, hurt feelings and low self-esteem (in either spouse) are starting points. These are all aspects that may intimidate a partner into silence. Identifying these areas in the personality allows the person to make personal changes, therefore allowing the marriage to grow. Improvement in these areas is necessary for long-term survival of the relationship.
Healing from the agony of an affair is essential in rebuilding the marriage. The foundations of the marriage, trust and fidelity, have been shaken to its core. If both people are not willing to allow healing to begin, the marriage cannot survive. The past is gone. If the marriage is truly to thrive in the future, it can only do so when both parties forgive rather than to hold the past indiscretion over the head of the offender. There is no immediate solution to the problem. Healing and forgiveness takes time. In order for the marriage to survive the affair, the door to forgiveness must be opened at some point.
5. Meeting Challenges
The pain of infidelity remains on the heart forever. Even couples who have survived it will carry the scars. There will be future challenges that must be met with the same type of commitment that the marriage started with and survived through. There will always be temptations that threaten the security of a marriage. Those temptations must be overcome in order to keep the marriage moving in a healthy direction. When these challenges arise, call your spouse, go home or do whatever it takes to get out of temptations way. Above all else, keep the previous experience in mind. Was it really worth the price the first time? What are the chances of the marriage surviving a second round of infidelity?
The rose-colored glasses that people wear walking down the aisle soon come off. The imperfection that exists in everyone suddenly becomes apparent. The test of true love begins. Marriage offers wonderful things. There is much heartache involved in a successful marriage. Getting through those heartaches together is the test of true love. True love is certainly worth the effort. When each person makes an effort to improve him or herself, the relationship will improve as well.