Infidelity in marriage can be one of the most difficult things to deal with. It’s a heartbreaking experience when there is a breach of faith between you and the person that you are closest to. You feel rejected, unloved, and extremely hurt. Sometimes the cheating is purely physical or sometimes it is purely emotional. Other times, it is both.
While any kind of cheating can be extremely painful, it has been said that the most difficult type of infidelity is when your partner falls in love with another person. Some have said, ‘I think I would be able to survive her having sex with somebody else, but actually falling in love…that’s where it really hurts.’
When you’re put in such a difficult situation, is there any way of re-discovering what you once had? Is there any way to trust again? To love again? Infidelity raises many questions. You really can’t blame somebody for never wanting to enter into a relationship again in fear of broken trust.
But if you are both willing to rebuild the relationship, then you have to understand that there are a lot of steps to go through in the recovery process. It’s not easy, but nothing like this ever is.
If you’re looking to repair a marriage after infidelity, you’ll have to start with diagnosing the problems. If you hurt your leg, you’d have to diagnose the injury before you knew how to repair it, right? In the same way, you have to find the pain that resulted when infidelity occurred.
Infidelity will typically involve pain in the following areas: shame, guilt, blame, anger, disappointment, hurt, rage, forgiveness, embarrassment, jealousy, lust, denial, resentment, and mistrust.
If your spouse has hurt you a number of times and your pain is beyond repair, then it is probably time to get out of the relationship. If you’re going to save your marriage, you have to be able to have something to build on. It can be possible to forgive the past, but it’s impossible to completely forget it.
The rebuilding process is about regaining your trust, overcoming your jealousy, and erasing your other fears…but you cannot ignore them! If you ignore your pain and let a repeat cheater back into your life, then you are simply opening yourself up to going through the same difficulties again.
Once you diagnose the problems, it’s time to work on the healing process. So what does it take to repair the pain? It takes teamwork. If you’re going to repair your marriage, both of you need to work together. This requires commitment, honesty, communication, responsibility, and forgiveness.
Both sides have to apologize for their actions that led to the cheating, as infidelity rarely occurs in a happy marriage. When one spouse feels that their basic needs are not met, they give up and eventually look somewhere else to find what they desire.
Unfortunately, this only leads to more pain for both members…but the fact is that a marriage cannot be rebuilt unless you can overcome what led to the infidelity in the first place. It will take a lot of talking, a lot of crying, and a lot of pain to find out what the problems were, but if you want to resolve the issues and not dwell on them then you need to keep the finger-pointing and blame to a minimum.
Once you acknowledge the pain, diagnose it, talk about it, and get some sort of resolution put in place, then you need to do your best to forget about it while still applying what you’ve learned for the future.
If you know that a lack of passion will lead your partner to feel unsatisfied, then you can make a more constant effort to communicate about your feelings and take time the time to fulfill him or her in this area. The cheater will also need to make a constant effort to affirm a spouse and do everything in his or her power to make the other person feel secure in the relationship.
Will trust ever be completely rebuilt? Will the past ever be forgotten? The answer is usually no in both cases, but a successful future can still be on the horizon.
Dr. Harley of MarriageBuilders.com gives some insight:
‘I tend to focus my attention on the present and the future, because they are what we can all do something about. The past is over and done with. Why waste our effort on the past when the future is upon us. Granted, it’s useful to learn lessons from the past, but if we dwell on the past, we take our eyes off the future which can lead to disaster.
I personally believe that therapy should focus most attention, not on the past, but on ways to make the future sensational. And when a spouse comes to me with unresolved feelings of resentment about something their spouse did in the past, I tend to put it on hold and focus on issues that prevent mistakes of the past from recurring. I ask them to trust my judgment, and see what happens to the resentment when the marriage has a chance to become fulfilling. In almost every case, resentment fades, as I predicted. While the painful memories are not entirely forgotten, the most recent marital experiences which are fulfilling and enjoyable, dominate a person’s thinking, and resentment becomes weak and infrequent.’
While putting the pain in the background might be considered a hard thing to do, as if you’re almost ignoring the past, it is still the right thing to do. It is extremely difficult to completely resolve your pain. If you can do so, that’s great, but it’s usually hard to forgive without giving the other person a chance to earn that trust back.
As time passes, the resentment won’t necessarily disappear, but it will fade and be replaced by a strong marriage rebuilt on a new foundation.