The discovery of marital infidelity or an affair, a cheating spouse or the involvement of a third party in a marriage can quite literally be devastating. The raw pain and emotion associated with this discovery can destroy everything.
It is crucial to know though, that many marriages have survived marital infidelity. Couples have not only survived this but in our experience, most of these couples have come out of it stronger.
There is no doubt that you need counselling and marriage guidance if you want to survive this and save your marriage. You might think you have what it takes to get through this on your own but as the two parties involved in rebuilding trust, safety and respect, the sheer emotion and feelings of hurt, despair, guilt, and rage will eventually become too much to handle without guidance.
Hear this! With the right guidance your marriage WILL survive marital infidelity. If you, as a couple put in the hard work that is needed to heal, you will start seeing results. You need to believe that, hold on to that, commit to doing the hard work and trust the process.
The following are points to ponder; things you need to reflect on and make decisions about before, during and after the process of healing. Knowing this and making conscious decisions about how you will show up for this process can significantly increase your chances of successfully rebuilding your marriage:
It might sound pretty obvious and you might have already heard and felt it but it bears saying again: There is no quick fix that will instantaneously heal the effects of marital infidelity.
Investing in healing and rebuilding your marriage means investing in Time. Time to learn a new process, time to heal, time to forgive and time to start doing something new and learning and making new habits.
Start thinking about the process of rebuilding your relationship as an adventure that takes time. It will take time to get used to everything you will now learn and do. You need to slow down. Only slowing down will eventually give you the impetus you need to go forward again.
This is usually very difficult to hear and understand especially if the discovery of marital infidelity is recent and fresh. It is natural for anyone to feel anger, rage, regret, guilt, shame, righteousness or any combination of these and the need to blame, shame, criticize and/or justify.
It is natural for one party to feel they are right and the other party is wrong and that they need this truth to be acknowledged.
These feelings are instinctive, natural, will repeat over time and are important and valid. During the healing and rebuilding process these emotions will be explored to find new meaning and new discoveries that will lead to a new way of building a marriage.
These emotions and feelings WILL NOT be used to determine guilt, innocence, right and wrong. Neither will the facts.
Although this is difficult to hear and understand, especially when the hurt is still fresh and raw, it is something you need to seriously reflect on.
Any process or system or therapy that is supposed to help you rebuild your marriage SHOULD NOT focus on judgement, blaming, shaming and criticism. If this is or becomes the focus, you might as well go to court, let your family decide (as they will naturally take sides) or let public opinion be the judge (shame each other on social media and see how many likes you get!)
If you are serious about saving your relationship, then know this: Your anger, rage, hurt, despair, guilt and remorse are important and valid and will be part of the process going forward. However, you will need to use these emotions and feelings differently. All this should be heard and validated and then used to rebuild your marriage.
It should not be used to determine guilt, blame, shame and criticism.
When you and your partner commit to rebuilding your marriage then one thing is not negotiable. You need to close all the exits or possible "escape routes" that might lead you back to the transgression.
This might also sound obvious but it is sometimes much harder than it seems. At every step of the rebuilding process you will need to commit and recommit to your relationship. Stepping into the space with your partner where you will explore and discover your feelings and emotions will be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable and your mind will try to protect you by reminding you of your exits.
Marital infidelity is an exit. It is a way to get away from the space-between you and your partner because you are seeking to become fully alive somewhere else.
Make the conscious choice to stay in that space. Commit to a new process. If you do and if you trust and follow the process, you will find safety AND ways to become fully alive and joyful in the space you've been trying to escape from!
Healing and rebuilding will require you to differentiate. This simply means you will intentionally start focusing on your differences... and you will do so in a good way!
In most Western cultures we like (and are sometimes taught) the idea that we "became one" when we get married or commit to a long-term relationship.
There is a lot of spiritual and theological significance and truth in this and we do not dispute the value of achieving unity in communion. However, we do believe that many people misinterpret this by thinking it means we need to lose or give up parts of ourselves, how we think and how we feel in order to have an awesome relationship.
This is your opportunity to see, discover, explore and get curious about how different you are and to then celebrate it! This path will lead to self-growth, safety and a space where two unique individuals meet each other to create a new relationship identity.
When rebuilding and healing your relationship after marital infidelity you will need to make a choice every day. This choice is intentional and very conscious in other words you might have to wisely choose commitment while everything inside you is screaming at you to run away, seperate, get divorced or stop therapy!
It is certainly not an easy choice. It is, however, a choice you will have to make and then live with. The good news is that this difficult choice can lead to your greatest and most rewarding adventure...if you know what path to take and you have the right map...
If you need help, would like to find out what we offer or if you'd just like to chat get in touch with us below: