It’s sad but true that more than fifty per cent of couples will experience infidelity in their relationship. A spouse’s unfaithfulness is the most painful experience that can be inflicted in marriage, but there is a way back if both parties are committed to repairing the damage and rebuilding trust.
Healing from infidelity is long, hard, painful work and the first step is for the unfaithful spouse to stop the affair immediately. This means severing all contact and informing your spouse of all future movements and of any chance meetings or contact with your former lover. It might even be necessary to share for a time privacy controls and passwords in order to encourage a renewal of trust.
Next, you need to talk openly and honestly as a couple about the affair. Experts agree that the adulterous spouse needs to supply all the information requested by his/her betrayed partner. This willingness to talk will help to rebuild trust and reassure the offended spouse that no more secrets are being kept. Keep your discussions down to 15-30 minutes and don’t continue them if tired, emotional or upset.
Discuss potential future challenges and threats to fidelity. The affair happened for a reason and you need to understand what went wrong in order to make changes for the future. Affairs rarely have just one cause, and they don’t always happen because of unhappiness or dissatisfaction in a relationship.
Commit to a new future together. Unless you both do this and are prepared to work at it, it won’t happen. This may involve spending more time together in order to reconnect as friends and romantic partners. Take a greater interest in each other’s lives and feelings and resolve to be totally honest with each other in future, even if it means taking a risk.
If you are the unfaithful partner, take responsibility for what you have done. Don’t attempt to blame your spouse as this won’t heal your marriage – but showing sincere regret and remorse will. Apologise often and vow never to stray again. Your spouse needs to hear and be reassured of this regularly! Take responsibility for your future fidelity too!
Be patient, kind and empathetic with each other. Accept that forgiveness will come neither quickly nor easily. The offended spouse will need to overcome pain and anger before being able to rebuild trust. Though an affair will never be forgotten, the painful memories will fade with time and forgiveness will allow you to move past the pain and rage and to reconcile with one another.
Finally, consider some relationship counseling or joining a support group to help with feelings of isolation. Go to www.relate.org.uk for more information about help that is available.