If you and your spouse possess these 6 characteristics, you’ve got a good shot at making it.
Most people assume that if a spouse cheats then their marriage is doomed. And these people are right – some of the time divorce is the answer.
The surprising truth is that marriages can bounce back from an affair (or affairs) and become stronger than ever.
However, how couples survive infidelity and strengthen their marriages is not by following a simple set of instructions.
The couples who make it fight hard for their marriages. They’re willing to fight together as a team more often than as adversaries. They love each other and are totally committed to doing what it takes.
If cheating has shaken your marriage, you’re better off doing some serious soul-searching separately and together rather than making a knee-jerk decision about your marriage.
To help you to figure out if you’re one of the couples who can survive infidelity, you’ll want to evaluate whether you and your spouse each have (or are committed to developing) the following 6 qualities and abilities:
- You must be willing to work really, really hard for what you want.
The effort needed for a couple to survive infidelity can’t be underestimated. The best way to sustain the energy necessary to maintain the required effort is to have a compelling vision for the result you want.
If you want to have an even better marriage than the one that ended because of the affair, then you need to get really clear individually and together about what your new marriage will be.
- You must possess courage.You’ll both be under pressure from others about your decision to save your marriage. Remember that most assume that a marriage is immediately over once a partner strays. You may have even believed this at one point. However, you’ll both need to weather the opinions of others by holding tight to your goal of saving your marriage.You’ll also feel pressure internally as you struggle with feelings of betrayal, guilt, revenge, remorse and many others. When you feel the internal pressures, continue to hold tight to your goal of a better marriage.
- You must be willing to go way outside of your comfort zones.
The conversations, transparency, patience and empathy required to overcome infidelity will take you both way beyond your normal levels of comfort. However, for your marriage to survive an affair, both of you need to change if you’re going to create a new marriage together.
(Yes, both the one who strayed and the one who was betrayed need to change.)
- You must pursue common interests together.Healing your marriage from infidelity isn’t all about hard work. You still need to have fun together – just like you did when you were dating before you got married.
- You must be open to professional help.
Odds are this is a situation you’ve never been in before. And surviving infidelity as a couple isn’t an intuitive process.
However, there are professionals available to help you each individually and together as a couple work through all the tough and courageous conversations you need to have on your way to surviving the infidelity that has fractured your relationship.
- You must love yourselves AND each other.
Love and respect are necessary for any relationship to flourish. You must each love and respect yourselves and each other.
Seeing yourself as worthy of and capable of love is critical to conquering the emotional turmoil cheating brought into your relationship. This is work that you need to do and that your spouse can support you with by being loving.
You will also need to support your spouse by being loving to them as they struggle with their own self-esteem issues. Seeing your spouse as lovable and capable of being loving to you will help you to express your love for them.
Chances are that if you both possess these 6 characteristics and are willing to face the facts and each other’s fears together as you fight to save your marriage, that you’ll be successful. And that would certainly be something worth celebrating.
However, there are no guarantees. Because you might put in a tremendous amount of work together and decide that you’re not capable of creating the marriage you each want. And that’s OK because now you’re both much clearer about what you do want and are willing to work toward so you’ll be more likely to find it with someone else.
The bottom line here is that couples can survive infidelity and strengthen their marriage in the process. If you choose to put in the effort, remember it’s not simple, it will require a lot of hard work, and no matter how it turns out you’ll be a better off.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you deal with infidelity. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more information about infidelity? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.
It doesn’t matter which side of the infidelity you were on, you’ve got to work to fix things.
One of you cheated…and one of you was betrayed.
Surviving infidelity isn’t an easy thing because it strikes to the core of what every relationship needs – trust.
Yet, you’ve made it through the initial pain and guilt of the discovery. You’ve tearfully talked through the options and decided together that you want to make your relationship work.
You both know that the affair was a symptom of something else that wasn’t working and you’re committed to resolving things because what you have (or can have) together is worth saving, worth fixing, and worth working on yourself for.
Yes, both of you will need to work on yourselves to survive the infidelity and restore your relationship, but what you need to do will depend on your role.
If you are the one who strayed, your tasks revolve around completely ending the other relationship and loving your spouse. Specifically, your five high-level tasks are:
- Cut all contact with the other person.As long as the potential for temptation exists, your partner will never, ever be able to relax or trust you being around the other person. Without doubt, the best thing you can do for yourself and your marriage is to cut all contact with the other person immediately.Block them from your social media and phone. Let your spouse have full access to all of your email and social media accounts. Let your spouse have full access to your phone.And in case you have a “private” phone or tablet that your partner doesn’t know about, cut service to that technology right now. Then, let your spouse have possession of it.
- Commit to complete honesty.Answer every single question your spouse has about why and how the affair happened. They need to understand why and how so they can begin to grasp what needs repair in your marriage on a visceral level and so they can truly survive your betrayal instead of suffering with unanswered questions.However, complete honesty does not mean that you share every detail of what you and the other person did because that would only cause your spouse unnecessary pain.
- Take responsibility for your actions.
This is not quite as simple as it sounds because it also means that you can’t blame your spouse for your straying. You need to assume 100% responsibility for the choices you made and the actions you took in betraying your spouse.
Anything less will only cause resentment and undermine trust on both of your parts. And resentment and mistrust can prevent you from achieving your goal of restoring your relationship.
- Be sympathetic, loving, and patient.
Your spouse is going through a lot – a whole lot – with learning how to trust you again. No matter how much they want to, they won’t immediately become your ideal mate.
They’re going to have lots of questions, lots of fears, lots of anger, and lots of confusion. Your job throughout all of their efforts to come to terms with what you’ve done and to move forward with you is being sympathetic, loving and patient simply because you know that they and your marriage are worth it.
- Be willing create a great new marriage that works for both of you.Your previous marriage didn’t work. If it did, you wouldn’t have strayed. So you and your mate are actually creating a new marriage.Keeping your goal of a wonderful new marriage with your loving mate in mind throughout the entire process will help you do whatever it takes for you and your spouse to survive your infidelity and restore your relationship.
If you are the one who suffered the betrayal, you’ve got work to do as well. It isn’t all up to your straying mate to fix everything. In fact, you also have five high-level tasks to tackle as you work with your spouse to survive their infidelity and restore your relationship.
- Be willing to put in the effort and energy.
As much as you may feel like the victim in this situation, the simple truth is that by choosing to make your marriage work you’ve committed to doing your part. And doing your part means you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you too.
- Be transparent with your spouse.In order to restore your relationship, you must be totally transparent with your spouse about what you’re thinking and feeling. The goal of this open and intense communication is to problem-solve together – NOT blame or punish your partner for what they’ve done to you.
- Release the betrayal.The longer you believe that your spouse’s infidelity is the worst thing they could have done to you, the longer you’ll suffer. It’s only by letting go of the pain of betrayal that you’ll be able to move on together and restore your marriage.
- Make time for intimacy.
Although you might not feel like being close to your spouse immediately, make the effort anyway. Intimacy is a way to foster trust which needs restoration between the two of you.
Intimacy is also a critical part of a vibrant marriage. And isn’t that what you want to have again?
- Be willing create a great new marriage that works for both of you.Your previous marriage didn’t work. If it did, your spouse wouldn’t have strayed. So now you and your mate are doing more than restoring your relationship. You’re creating a new marriage which may be based on how great things were at some point in the past or it may be something completely new.Keeping your goal of a wonderful new marriage with your loving mate in mind throughout the entire process will help you do whatever it takes for you and your spouse to survive their infidelity and restore your relationship.
Although you’ve each got specific high-level tasks to complete as you struggle together in surviving infidelity and making your marriage work, that doesn’t mean it will be easy or that there isn’t more for you to do.
These tasks are just the starting point for restoring trust and creating your new marriage. They will help you to get started. They will also serve as reminders when things get tough (because they will) of what you can and should do as you struggle together and separately to survive infidelity and restore your relationship.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor who helps clients survive infidelity. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more ideas about moving past betrayal? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.
These three tips are exactly what you need so you’ll heal and survive the betrayal.
Finding out your spouse cheated (or is cheating) leaves you breathless with shock and starts your whole world spinning wildly as you try to make sense of things. And just as you start to catch your breath, your thoughts explode and you’re bombarded with a million questions.
How could they do this?
Doesn’t s/he love me?
Why wasn’t I enough?
What’s wrong with me?
And then, almost before you know what’s happening, … you’re getting divorced.
You struggle to make sense of who this person, who was your beloved and now is your opponent, is. How could they behave in such an abhorrent way? It’s as if you never really knew them.
Of course, you already lost your trust in them when you found out about their affair, but now you’re starting to mistrust yourself. Shouldn’t you have seen the signs? Can you tell the difference between someone telling you the truth and lying? Do you even know what’s real anymore? Are you capable of ever trusting someone again? Can you trust yourself?
Now you struggle daily with mistrusting just about everyone, but especially men, if your husband had the affair, or women, if your wife cheated.
It’s because of this mistrust that divorce is so much more difficult for you. You’ve got to cope with all of the same divorce challenges everyone else who gets divorced faces, but all the while you’re having to make sense of the intimate betrayal you’ve suffered too.
For you, divorce recovery is a bit more difficult. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
The trick for learning how to survive infidelity and divorce is, in addition to doing the normal divorce recovery work, to do these three things too:
- Focus on the solution.
Hopefully, the solution is to move on from this experience as a whole and healed person. The problem is that moving on and healing is impossible when you stay focused on the fact that your spouse cheated.You’ve got to put your attention on healing.
- Know that this isn’t the worst thing that could have happened to you.As horrible as this experience is, it’s not the worst thing that could have happened to you. What if you didn’t find out and you continued to live with someone who continually lied to you and didn’t love you the way you deserve to be loved?
Now that would be too sad and horrifying for words to describe.
- Accept that you must move out of the negativity.It’s not easy to start looking for the positive in your situation. But you need to find it every single day – sometimes even multiple times a day. The reason why you must find the good is that the longer you stay negative and focused on your hurt and confusion, the longer the pain of the betrayal will last.
There’s nothing easy about these three tasks or learning how to survive infidelity and divorce.
In fact, these are great big tasks that will take energy and effort for you to do them. They might even (actually, they probably will) require you to reach out for help and support to do them.
However, the sooner you can start incorporating these tasks into the rest of your efforts to recover from divorce, the more quickly you will be able to heal and put all of this behind you.
And isn’t that what you really want?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you survive infidelity and divorce. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.