When you have discovered that your spouse has become involved with someone else, it can be difficult to imagine how to move forward after the affair. The days and weeks after you discover an affair can be some of the most emotionally trying moments you will ever have. But if you want to save your marriage, how you react after the affair is the most important thing.
While there is no such thing as right or wrong emotions, what you do with your feelings will determine what happens next in your marriage. The following are ten strategies you need to know to rescue your marriage after the affair.
Find a way to express your feelings without blowing up at your partner. While you may want to scream, cry, or even hit your partner, those things will not help you fix the problems in your marriage. However, you still need to find a way to let these feelings out and deal with them. Find an outlet for your feelings, whether you exercise, confide in a friend, or indulge in a hobby.
Don’t let your need to know more take over your life. It is a natural inclination to want to find out every detail of the affair and your spouse’s partner in that affair. But after the affair is over, you have to get over your need to dissect every part of the relationship. Do not spend time searching for information about the other person online, looking for more “proof” of the affair, or asking people what they know about the other person. This will only make it more difficult for you to let go of the affair itself and deal with your own relationship.
Get help for yourself before you approach your partner. It takes two people to make a marriage, but when a relationship goes bad it can be easy to forget that you are an individual who is worthy of being treated well. A professional can help you decide what steps to take next, whether you seek out a relationship counselor, an individual counselor, or even advice from a religious or cultural advisor. You must feel good about yourself before you can effectively communicate with your partner.
Spend time engaging in scenario based thinking before you start talking to your partner about what led to the affair. Think about what you want to say to your partner, and then genuinely try to predict how he or she will react to what you have to say. This will help you come up with strategies that will open lines of communication. If you can imagine that your partner will become angry or stop communicating after you say something, you need to think of a different way to approach the topic. If you are focused on rebuilding your marriage, you have to let go of the idea of blaming your partner.
Make it clear to your spouse that you are willing to forgive the affair as long as he or she is genuinely committed to making the relationship right again. Never do this in the form of an ultimatum, as this will only push your spouse further away. Instead, explain that you understand that there are things wrong in your relationship that contributed to the affair, and you want to fix those things together so that he or she won’t be tempted to stray again.
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If you take the right steps, you can draw your spouse back in and begin to restore your marriage TOGETHER. How do you do that? Well, have you asked yourself any of these questions?
- How do you heal from your spouse’s emotional or physical affair?
- How do you forgive?
- How do you get to the head-space where you’re able to give your spouse another chance?
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Determine whether you are genuinely capable of forgiveness or if revenge or anger will continue to define your marriage. After the affair is over, many people find that they are unable to let go of the affair and move forward. As you talk to your spouse, think about whether you will use the affair against him again and again. Turning the affair into a weapon that you use to attack your partner means that you are not able to forgive, and that the marriage may simply be impossible to save. The power to save your marriage is in your hands, and forgiveness is the key to unlocking that potential.
Don’t spend all of your time rehashing the details of your partner’s infidelity. Instead, spend time reflecting on what makes your relationship good. Together, talk about all of the things you love together and the things you love about each other. The things that brought you together can keep you together, but only if you make them a central part of your relationship again.
Drop the idea of getting even in any way. Many people are tempted to have an affair of their own as a way of showing their partner how it feels or getting even. Others are tempted to do something to hurt the person their spouse cheated with, to take revenge on that person in order to make themselves feel better. But in the long run, negativity and hate only bring more of the same to your relationship. It is better to simply remove the person your partner cheated with from your lives and minds as completely as possible so that they lose the power to make you miserable.
Treat your relationship as though it is valuable and deserves your attention. A marriage takes lots of work from both partners, but if you are willing to put the effort in now, you can build the type of marriage where you happily move through life together. All people grow in a relationship, and you need to focus your effort on growing together, rather than growing apart. Take time to read, research, and study about what makes a marriage strong, and try to build that type of marriage. Don’t just wait around and hope that things will get better.
Agree to hold each other and kiss every day. Sometimes, it can be hard to decide where to begin reestablishing the physical intimacy that is so important to a marriage. The most important thing you can do after the affair ends is to begin rebuilding the love between you, and the simple act of holding your spouse and giving him or her a simple kiss can do more than months of talking ever could. Promise to cherish and love each other, to hold and love each other the way your marriage deserves. This single step may be the most important one you take.
Repairing your marriage after the affair won’t be easy, but if you are committed to saving your marriage and moving forward, you can do it. Take time to think about what your marriage means to you and why it is worth saving, and then take steps to forgive and to begin growing together again. Loving your spouse won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth the effort. As you move on after the affair, take time to recognize how much stronger your marriage will be after you put in the effort it takes to save it.
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