5 Essential Boundaries To Help Your Marriage Survive Cheating

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5 Essential Boundaries To Help Your Marriage Survive Cheating

Infidelity can rock even the most stable marriage. But you can still learn how to rebuild trust after cheating. There are some essential boundaries that can help a marriage survive infidelity and bring you both closer than ever.

To understand relationship boundaries, look at the four walls of your house. Those walls are the structure that holds the pieces of your life together. They hold your food, your bed, and your possessions — and it’s where you live your life.

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Healthy boundaries in marriage are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your marriage as it matures.

To have a healthy marriage — one that can grow and be fruitful — it is important that it has structures and boundaries that support it.

Establishing boundaries in your marriage when you are working through infidelity is an excellent way to help you get on with the healing and create a healthy, infidelity-proof marriage.

Here are 5 essential boundaries to help your marriage survive cheating.

1. There can be no contact between the cheater and their former lover. None.

The number one essential boundary — the one without which any efforts to survive the infidelity will be ineffective — is that the cheater has no contact with the person with whom they were having an affair.

This means no phone calls, no texting, no in-person contact, and no following on social media. None.

Unless the cheater can break the tie that binds the two lovers together, there's no chance the marriage can survive. The things that initially brought the two together are things that still exist and those things are strong and compelling.

If the cheater is allowed to continue that attachment, it will leave no room for the married couple to get closer again.

So, set a boundary that the cheater will no longer be in contact with their lover. If necessary, set up systems whereby the betrayed partner can be assured that the contact is not happening.

If your partner won’t agree to no contact, I would encourage you to walk away and start living life on your own.

2. You both make a promise of openness.

Spouses who've been betrayed in their marriage are eager to know all of the details around the affair. How it started, where the lovers met, what was the sex like, why didn’t it end. These are details that cheaters are loathe to share.

While I personally believe that having all of this information isn’t necessarily going to help a couple in the healing process, many people cannot move forward without the details. Unfortunately, many of the betrayers don't want to share the gory details.

Many cheaters are filled with shame and remorse about what they did, and the prospect of sharing the details with their spouses reinforces that shame.

Because of this, many cheaters refuse to get into details, and instead, shut down and get angry with their spouses. This behavior does not aid in the healing process.

It's important that if your spouse wants the details, you're willing to share them. Doing so will allow your partner to stop running negative tapes in their head, ones that are perhaps false, and allow them to start moving forward.

Furthermore, it will go a long way toward restoring trust because the partner will know that the cheater is willing to give them the information they need.

RELATED: 3 Things You Must Do To Truly Forgive Him For Cheating

3. No passive aggression.

Many people who've been cheated on are very angry. Deeply angry, betrayed, and hurt. And conveying that anger and hurt in a productive way feels impossible. Instead, their anger comes out as passive aggression, and that doesn’t help anybody.

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of passive-aggressive behavior is, "...a way to express feelings of anger or annoyance, but in a non-forthcoming way. Instead of communicating openly, people who engage in this type of behavior share their negative feelings through actions."

What might passive aggression look like? Snide comments about the affair, unkind asides about the integrity of their partner, slamming doors, damaging property, being unkind, unsupportive, etc.

Passive-aggressive behaviors only serve to prolong the anger and slow the healing. Instead of practicing passive-aggressive behaviors, speak your anger out loud.

Of course, you can yell, which can be good as it releases pent up energy. But the best way is to express your anger in a tempered way, so that your partner truly understands how you feel.

4. Keep what happened private.

For example, after a woman confronts her husband about his cheating, he might want to delete the emails that she discovered. Why would he do that? Because he's worried that his wife will share the emails with all of her friends so they can analyze them together.

He doesn’t want the embarrassment, so he deleted the emails. And he may have been right — his wife could definitely have shared those emails with her friends. And it wouldn’t have helped anything.

For many women, the need to discuss what happened with a close friend or confidant is compelling. I'm not saying you shouldn’t do that, but it’s important to do so with only one person. The affair shouldn't be shared with your wider social group.

Having people discuss a couple’s private life to get themselves involved where they shouldn’t and perhaps breed a taking of sides. This will only serve to magnify what happened and stop the healing.

Instead of sharing the affair with people outside of the partnership, I would encourage you to consult professionals to process what has happened, either individually or as a couple. A professional can help you work through the infidelity without an agenda, using learned skills to help you heal.

5. Agree to seek help.

When there's infidelity, a couple trying to save their marriage is in uncharted waters. Because you've never been through this before, you have no idea what to do and none of the necessary skills.

It's important that you're willing to seek help to process what has happened and gain skills to work through it.

Often times, after infidelity, one partner is willing to get therapy, but the other partner wants to work through it alone or ignore it altogether. “Why can’t we just move on?” they say.

But if your partner isn’t willing to agree to seek help, then the chances of surviving infidelity, and truly finding yourself back to each other as a couple, are less than zero.

So, as soon as you can, before bad habits set in, I would encourage couples to seek help. I believe couples' therapy is essential, but that individual therapy is an excellent idea, as well.

The cheater will need to process what happened and their guilt around it. The partner will need to work through their feelings of worthlessness and betrayal. If they do their individual work, the more successful their work together will be.

Now that you know the five essential boundaries that can help a marriage survive infidelity, you can start working together toward saving your marriage.

Couples must commit to working through the aftermath of an affair together. The knowledge and acceptance of certain skills and behaviors is the key to making it happen.

Many, many couples can, and do, survive infidelity, but to do so you must work together with the goal in mind of getting through this and establishing a healthier relationship.

RELATED: 22 Ways Couples Can Survive Cheating (And Finally Heal From The Betrayal)

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her and get started!

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.