I think cheating is the single worst thing a married person can do to their partner. It has the power to destroy the marriage, damage the kids (forever), and it touches everyone you knew as a couple as well as anyone you knew independently. It is like herpes; it never goes away but with age and the passing of time you learn how to better manage it. Couples who try to repair the relationship after the affair have an opportunity to actually make their marriage better. There are several myths in regards to cheating that couples find out can be proven untrue. The first of these is once a cheater, always a cheater. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior but not always in regards to cheating. The second myth is that all cheaters have a terrible marriage. Although this may apply to how you feel about your marriage, not all cheaters do have an unhappy marriage. A few of them actually love their spouse and their marriage and cheat on the side. A third myth is that you need to know every detail about the cheating to heal. Often times this will not help you heal but will be a constant reminder for you of what your husband or wife did and it will actually make healing more difficult.
Is it possible to heal after cheating? YES. However, it is not possible for everyone to heal after cheating. Before you begin a long arduous journey of counseling, have a heart to heart talk with your spouse in regards to why you both want to salvage the marriage. If you are one of those people who cannot forgive the affair or if your partner is in love with the person with whom they had the affair, your chances of healing the marriage or relationship after cheating is poor. Many times affairs happen to couples who have a history together. Couples who share a long wonderful history that involves children, numerous family members and thousands of friends may decide to salvage their marriage after an affair. If you are in this category or more inclined to believe you could work with a partner who had an affair, here are some helpful hints for you.
Tips for healing your relationship after an affair
1. The time for honesty was before the affair, but since you weren’t, there is no room now for anything but honesty. You need to sit down with your spouse and talk about this. Is the affair over, or are you still in love with the person? If you still love them are you willing to cut off all communication to work on the marriage? This is a deal breaker and needs to be done before anyone can continue to work on the marriage.
2. You both need a support system. Whether this is church, marriage counseling or signing up for one retreat a month you need to have this in order to heal the infidelity.
3. You need a time commitment for how long you are going to work on the relationship. I usually suggest 6 months (it will actually take years to get over it) with intense counseling and making immediate changes within the marriage to stabilize it. These changes may include moving the computer to a central level of the home, changing cell phone numbers, changing jobs, etc….
4. You can only heal if you can begin to forgive each other. This sounds like advice from your mom, dad, or a clergy person. It is so true though. No one lives in a vacuum, especially one’s spouse. When one spouse is cheating the other spouse senses it whether or not they chose to deal with it. Many times the non-cheating spouse will medicate with food and gain weight, or alcohol and become a drunk. Although this doesn’t help them deal with the cheating spouse it does help them stay numb and enables the cheating spouse.
5. Lastly, you need to think of the family. Who will benefit if this marriage stays together? Who is damaged if this marriage stays together? There are cheaters who cheat due to an unresolved issue from their childhood. If you think you can cure this…you are dreaming.
If you have been cheated on I am really sorry. For anyone who has ever cheated I am really sorry too. You have the ability to make this an opportunity to grow closer in your relationship while healing from an affair. Take your time to reflect about everyone involved before you throw him or her out.
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