An affair can be devastating; so much so that many people are sure that they could never stay in a marriage if their spouse had an affair. However, when an affair happens, the betrayed spouse often finds that they are hoping there’s some way to save the marriage. They just don’t know how to do it.
Dr. Peggy Drexler is a research psychologist, is the Assistant Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University and is the respected author of two books about today’s families. She’s also a popular contributor to the Huffington Post on the topic of marriage. She recently posted a very informative and encouraging article called “Can the Infidelity-Damaged Relationship Survive?” and in it she shares six tips to help your marriage survive an affair.
Dr. Drexler explains that there are a number of factors that can affect the chances your marriage will survive an affair.
Most of these have to do with how and why the affair happened in the first place.
Was it a one night stand, or a long-time parallel relationship? Did it happen when the marriage was new or after years of investment? Did the straying partner just wander off the path for a bit, or did he or she find a soul mate? Was the infidelity the cause or simply the symptom of a collapsing relationship?”
However, while the answers to these questions can affect the chances that you can rebuild your marriage after an affair,
Dr. Drexler says that there are six steps you can take to help your marriage survive the affair.
1. The most important thing, says Dr. Drexler, is that both of you be absolutely committed to staying in and repairing the relationship.
This is not a quick fix. One can’t drag another toward healing. It has to happen hand-in-hand, side by side. Going through the motions out of guilt or for show is simply cruel.”
2. Of course, it’s essential that the affair be completely over in order for you to begin healing your marriage. This means that there can be no contact at all with the other person involved in the affair. Dr. Drexler adds that this is absolute and non-negotiable.
3. Dr. Drexler also explains that the spouse who had the affair is going to have to be brutally honest about it, whether that makes them uncomfortable or not.
The time for secrets is over. What happened? Where? Why? Without that, you’re suturing the wound over an active infection.”
4. It’s also essential that both of you understand why the affair happened. Without that, the injured spouse is always going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop (another affair to happen) and neither of you will understand the underlying reasons enough to correct them and keep an affair from reoccurring. You need to know if it was physical longing, loneliness, boredom, anger or any number of things that can lead to an affair.
5. Another essential step is to be completely realistic about how willing you are to work on the marriage and to rebuild your relationship after an affair.
Be real. Even it seems unlikely — is forgiveness a possibility? Or will life become an unending cycle of punishment and recrimination. ‘You forgot to take out the garbage.’ ‘Yeah; well you cheated on me’.”
6. Lastly, communication is key.
If you see hope, keep talking. Don’t withdraw in hopes that emotions will simply cool and you can move on. It seldom works that way. Professional help is usually important in confronting difficult truths, and breaking through fortified positions.”
Yes, your marriage can survive an affair, but it takes commitment, honesty and a good deal of work. If you’re both willing and ready to offer those things, your marriage can not only survive, but thrive.