How your marriage can survive infidelity
There are few marital problems that can cause as much emotional pain as an affair. That’s because infidelity undermines the very foundations of a marriage. However, it doesn’t have to be the end. If both partners are committed to staying in the relationship and are prepared to make things better, your marriage not only has a good chance of surviving, it can actually become stronger as a result.
What is infidelity?
The classic definition of infidelity is if one partner has a sexual affair with someone outside the marriage. However, what actually constitutes infidelity can vary widely between couples. Is an emotional connection without physical intimacy as bad as having a full-blown affair? What about online relationships? Each couple needs to define for themselves what they consider being unfaithful.
Why do affairs happen?
Contrary to popular belief, most affairs aren’t fundamentally about sex. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to someone wanting to have an affair outside of marriage – here are some of the most common reasons:
- Lack of affection within the marriage.
- Loss of fondness and care for each other.
- Unaddressed marital problems that may have been lying dormant for years.
- Breakdown of communication about your feelings and relationship needs.
- Physical health issues including disability or chronic pain.
- Mental health issues including depression, anxiety and more.
- Addiction including alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex.
What to do when an affair is discovered?
When an affair comes to light, it can trigger powerful emotions for both partners, including anger and betrayal, guilt, shame and remorse. When you are in the midst of such emotional turmoil, it will be difficult to think clearly enough to make sensible long-term decisions. Instead, focus on the following strategies:
- Don’t force yourself into making any rash decisions. In particular, if you think you might be in danger of physically hurting yourself or others, seek immediate professional help.
- Give each other plenty of space and try to avoid emotionally challenging discussions until you are able to begin the healing process.
- Seek outside support by sharing your feelings and experience witSide view of young couple holding broken heart against grey backgroundh trusted friends or family who can positively support you and hold your hand along your healing path.
- Consider seeing an experienced marriage counsellor or family therapist, either on your own or as a couple.
- Take the time you need to understand what has happened and why, and try to avoid delving into the ‘sordid’ details until you are strong enough.
How do you mend a broken marriage?
Recovering from an affair is a challenging task that will come with much ambivalence and uncertainty. But as you rebuild the trust between you, admit guilt and learn to forgive each other and reconcile your struggles, it is possible to deepen and strengthen the love you’ve always had for each other.
Here are some recommended steps you can take to encourage healing your relationship:
- Take it one step at a time. Healing cannot be rushed; it takes as long as it takes. Before making a definite decision whether or not to stay in the relationship, you need to be able to understand why the affair occurred in the first place. A marriage counsellor can help you here.
- Take responsibility for your actions. If you were the one being unfaithful and you want to heal your marriage, put an end to the affair and stop all communications with the third party involved. If it’s a work colleague, minimise your contact to business only, or change jobs.
- Get support from diverse sources. Don’t rely on self-help books or generic advice alone. Rather, share your situation with understanding friends, experienced spiritual leaders or a trained counsellor.
- See a marriage therapist who is experience in dealing with infidelity issues. At KlearMinds, our marriage counsellors can help you put the affair into perspective, help identify issues that may have contributed to the affair, and encourage you to rebuild and strengthen your marriage and avoid divorce.
- Finally, it’s time to come together and make a plan to achieve reconciliation. Agree on a process and timetable, practice authentic forgiveness and seek understanding together, and restore trust in your marriage.
If you are committed to your marriage and have the desire to overcome the suffering and pain caused by an affair, KlearMinds can help you move forward together. Why not get in touch with us in confidence, or book an appointment here.