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.