What Changes Should the Straying Spouse Make to Rebuild the Marriage After the Affair?
By Kajay Williams
When an affair is discovered, “normal” emotions and any hope of a “normal” relationship goes out of the window – negative emotions felt by the betrayed spouse combined with feelings of entitlement from the straying spouse makes reconciliation feel almost impossible. When the dust begins to settle on the affair and the straying spouse has stopped seeing their lover, the process of rebuilding the marriage can truly start. There are a few changes that the straying spouse can make when rebuilding the marriage after the affair to ensure that the marriage has the strongest chance of surviving, and these are outlined below.
No contact and full accountability
The first two stages in rebuilding the marriage after an affair are for the wayward spouse to have no contact with their lover and for them to take full accountability for their actions. A wayward spouse who is still in contact with a lover will not be fully committed to making their marriage work – and it will make it much more difficult for the betrayed spouse to trust them again. Equally, if a straying spouse doesn’t actually take full accountability for their actions, blaming the affair on their spouse, they will feel resentment towards their spouse and their spouse will feel resentment towards them.
A wayward spouse needs to remember that although there were undoubtedly troubles in the marriage that led to the affair, they were the person who stepped outside of the marriage to start a relationship with someone else. They would have had many options – counseling, open discussions with their spouse or even divorce, but instead they chose to have an affair. Unless the wayward spouse takes full accountability for that – and lets their spouse know that the blame lies with them and them alone – it will be difficult to move forward in the marriage.
Transparency and recovery
The straying spouse needs to remember that whatever they say or do, for a long time, their spouse will not trust them. The betrayed spouse will always be worried about what their spouse is doing, where they are going and who they are seeing – and for them to begin to trust their spouse again, the straying spouse needs to be willing to be completely transparent and honest.
They also need to be willing to make certain changes to their behavior in order to recover from the affair mind set. The straying spouse will need to make changes to, work on or remove certain behaviors from their life in order to rebuild their marriage, and some of these behaviours are outlined below.
a. Deceitfulness: Although in some situations deceitfulness is necessary; perhaps in the telling of a white lie, for the wayward spouse, deceitful behaviour should play no part in their life. If a wayward spouse has thoughts such as “What my spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt them”, they may end up back on the path towards an affair.
b. Entitlement: Sometimes, a straying spouse will justify their affair by having the belief that they are entitled to do anything they want in order to meet their emotional or sexual needs. These feelings of entitlement need to be replaced with feelings of contentment – the straying spouse needs to learn to appreciate what they have in life and in their relationship and to be content with it. If the straying spouse is constantly seeking the next sexual high because they feel like they are entitled to it, they will get stuck in a relationship-destroying pattern of affairs.
c. Coping skills: Prior to the discovery of the affair, the straying spouse will likely have sought solace in their arms of their lover when they were feeling low, anxious or angry. When they are trying to rebuild their marriage, it is important that they learn how to cope with negative life events and emotions without immediately wanting to seek solace in someone other than their spouse. It’s also important for a straying spouse to learn to communicate with their spouse once more – and to learn that their spouse can actually help them through negative life events and emotions.
d. Rationalization: It’s very important for the straying spouse to remember that if they feel like they have to rationalize their actions or their behavior, they probably shouldn’t be doing it. If you are an open, honest individual, you should not feel the need to rationalize your behavior – and chances are, if you are rationalizing your behavior, you are either lying to your spouse, or one step away from it – which is a slippery road to go down.
Learning to cope with emotions and thoughts
One of the most important things that a straying spouse can do to rebuild their marriage is to learn how to cope with certain emotions and thoughts. We all have thoughts that are sometimes negative or that could cause problems if we dwell on them, but most of the time, these thoughts are brief and flitting and we might not even be conscious of them.
Straying spouses tend to dwell on certain thoughts – in particular negative emotions such as feelings of entitlement, defensiveness, anger and self-pity. Straying spouses need to experience these emotions and then let them go – holding onto them could potentially cause problems within the marriage.
Part of learning how to cope with certain emotions and thoughts is realizing that it will take a long time – after all, old habits die hard. It can be tough to shake off the emotional baggage that comes with an affair mind set, meaning that the straying spouse might need to keep working on themselves, their emotions and their behaviors for a long time to come.
Learning to be happy within the marriage – and with life
Affairs can have their perks – that’s why people embark on them. For a straying spouse to successfully rebuild their marriage, they need to embrace the perks of their marital life – and the perks that come with not having to lie or be deceitful any longer.
What To Do If Your Partner Is Having An Affair?
Time To Act: There is hope.
An affair may be the best thing to happen to a marriage or relationship.
Contrary to popular belief, experts say that many couples survive infidelity and are able to rebuild a stronger, better and more fulfilling marriage after the betrayal.
Whether you suspect your partner or spouse is cheating on you or whether you have just discovered your spouse’s affair or whether you are wondering if you want to save your marriage or opt for separation after an affair or whether you want to redefine the boundaries of your relationship or marriage to make sure you and your partner are on the same page, I can help you.
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