How to Save a Marriage After Infidelity

Three Parts:Reacting After the Discovery of the InfidelityBuilding Trust and CommunicationSeeking Professional Help

Statistics have shown that over 50 percent of all married couples will experience the pain of an affair.[1] However, not every infidelity in a marriage has to lead to a divorce. Working to save the marriage often results in the relationship between the spouses growing much stronger than it was before. Learning how to save a marriage after infidelity will be difficult and will require sacrifices and compromises from both spouses.

Part 1
Reacting After the Discovery of the Infidelity

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    Be accountable for your actions. If you were the unfaithful party, it’s important that you take responsibility for your actions and end the affair. You should stop all communication with the person and prevent any future interactions with the person. If your spouse was unfaithful, you should confirm he or she has ended the affair and intends to avoid all contact with the person.[2]
    • Avoid deciding right away if you are both going to stay in the marriage. Rather than make this big decision up front, agree to work together to try to sort through your issues. This will put less pressure on you both as you work on your relationship and allow you both to try your best to get over the affair.
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    Express any hurt feelings honestly and openly. Don’t be afraid to express your hurt feelings to your spouse and be willing to listen to any hurt feelings expressed by your spouse. Often, it can help to process the affair if you acknowledge the infidelity and explain how it has hurt you and your marriage. If your spouse is the one who had the affair, he or she should be willing to listen to your feelings, apologize, and validate your hurt feelings. Expressing your emotions can help you gradually the hurt and pain you are feeling, and begin to move past the affair.[3]
    • When you first discover the affair, or when your spouse confronts you with the affair, it’s important that you do not make any rash decisions. You will likely be very upset and hurt. Avoid letting your emotions dictate your reaction. Try to discuss the affair openly with your partner and focus on expressing how you are feeling, rather than yelling or screaming at each other.
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    Take time apart, if necessary. It can be intense when you discover an affair or admit an affair to your spouse. You may act out of anger or be in shock. Take some time away from your spouse to think about the affair and to process your emotions. Don’t be afraid to give each other space if you think it will help you move past the infidelity.[4]
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    Reach out to family and friends. Look for objective, nonjudgmental support from friends, loved ones, or a spiritual leader. If you already have a therapist, you may want to reach out to this professional support for guidance. Often it helps to have someone who will listen to you as you process your emotions and give you verbal or silent support as you deal with this intense event.[5]
    • You can also lean on your family and friends as you continue to process and work through the infidelity. Once you decide to save your marriage and work through your issues with your spouse, it can be helpful to have a support network to turn to. It can be helpful to schedule time on the weekends to spend with family and friends as you work through the issues with your spouse.[6]
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    Consider the possible reasons for the affair. Keep in mind infidelity can occur for a variety of reasons and that reason may be unique to your relationship with your spouse. To help keep your marriage together after your spouse discovers your affair or you admit your affair, it’s important to be willing to be transparent and honest. If you discover your spouse is having an affair, think about reasons why he or she may have cheated. Ask your spouse if he or she knows of why he or she had the affair and if certain factors were at play that may have lead to the affair. There are many factors that can contribute to infidelity, some of which have nothing to do with sex. Possible factors include:[7]
    • Sexual attraction to someone other than you, and deciding to act on this feeling rather than suppress it.
    • Feeling a strong emotional connection to someone.
    • Confiding marital issues to someone else other than you.
    • Developing unrealistic fantasies about someone and being blinded by these fantasies.

Part 2
Building Trust and Communication

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    Evaluate your bond with your spouse. Once you have moved past the initial emotional shock of discovering the affair, you should take some time to think about your overall bond with your spouse. Consider how your values line up and if you can both still find common ground about the future. It’s important that you both have shared goals moving forward.[8]
    • Think about if you are both on the same page regarding family, finances, and the future.
    • Ask yourself if he makes you happy.
    • Think about if you still want the relationship to work and if you see a future for you both.
    • Consider if you still attracted to him sexually.
    • Ask yourself if you both set and accomplish goals together and if you both enjoy spending quality time together.
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    Discuss how you can both be more transparent with each other. Every couple will tackle the level of transparency in their relationship differently. Some couples may decide to share their phone messages and be open about where they are going and who they are going out with. Other couples may decide to have in depth conversations at the dinner table about their day and share their experiences that way.[9]
    • The idea is to prevent secrecy and lies from eroding your relationship as you both move forward in your marriage. Being honest and open on a daily basis can help to build up the trust between you again and possibly lead to a stronger marriage than the one you shared before the affair.[10]
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    Work towards forgiveness. Forgiving your spouse does not mean you need to forget or disregard the affair. Instead, allow yourself to be open to the idea of forgiving your spouse for the affair, one day.[11]
    • It can take years to truly forgive your spouse but it’s important that you don’t close yourself off to this possibility. Your spouse will need to earn your forgiveness by working with you to build up the trust again between you and to make the marriage sustainable after the affair. This could be through actions, like being open and transparent with you and attending marriage counseling. Or you may need time to rekindle your feelings for your spouse and to grow to forgive him or her once you have gotten over the affair.

Part 3
Seeking Professional Help

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    Go together to a marriage counselor. You should both seek help from a licensed therapist who is trained in marital therapy and can help you both work through the infidelity. A good marriage counselor can help you put the affair into perspective, identify any factors that may have contributed to the affair and teach you both how to rebuild your relationship.[12]
    • Your marriage counselor may also give you reading material to study and discuss together at home as you both work towards saving your marriage. It’s important that you show your spouse you are willing to try to make the marriage work by committing to weekly counseling sessions and reading any material given to you by the counselor.
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    See a therapist on your own, if necessary. You may feel that you would like to go to a therapist on your own to work on your issues, especially if you are the spouse who had the affair. Though couples counseling is very beneficial for you and your spouse, going to a therapist on your own can show your spouse that you are willing to also focus on your own issues so they do not hinder the progress you are both making in couples counseling.[13]
    • You may want to consider going to a therapist on your own if you think some of your personal issues may have caused the affair or lead to developing feelings for someone other than your spouse. Working through your issues can help you to better support your spouse as you work together on your marriage.
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    Join a couples support group. Look for a couples support group in your area that focuses on saving a marriage after infidelity. It can be useful to share your experiences with others who are also going through the same issues and problems as you.[14]
    • The support group is usually lead by a certified marriage counselor, who will moderate the support group and help to facilitate discussion between you, your spouse, and other couples.[15]

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Categories: Cheating Spouses