Cheating and infidelity are, unfortunately, all too common. Thankfully, an affair doesn’t have to spell disaster for your marriage, and you can overcome infidelity and re-build your marriage. That’s what this article is all about: how to overcome cheating in your marriage and re-build a happy future together with your spouse.
Part 1: What To Do If You Cheated On Your Spouse.
Let’s begin by talking about what to do if you were the one who cheated in your partner. I’m not going to bother lecturing you about about why you shouldn’t be unfaithful — you already know that. So let’s focus instead on how to re-build your marriage.
- Step One: End the affair immediately. If you actually value your marriage and want to enjoy a happy future with your partner, then the cheating needs to end and it needs to never happen again. If you plan on continuing your unfaithful ways, then you might as well throw in the towel now. Not only do you need to stop the actual cheating, you also need to sever all contact with the person(s) with whom you were cheating. No phone calls, texts, or ‘random encounters’… simply cut them out of your life completely.
- Step Two: Take responsibility. It’s not your spouse’s fault that you cheated. Period. You need to own up to your mistakes, accept that it was your fault, and move on to step three…
- Step Three: Issue one heartfelt apology and promise not to ever be unfaithful again. Pretty simple, right? You need to issue a genuine apology, and promise not to ever cheat on him or her again.
- Step Four: Answer questions and talk it out. It’s counterintuitive – many people think that going over the details will only further upset the partner who’s been cheated on. The truth, on the other hand, is that a willingness to talk rebuilds trust between you and your spouse. The key is not holding back, and not keeping any more secrets. If you leave out details that emerge later, your spouse may feel betrayed once again, so share everything but the most intimate sexual details, and answer all of your spouse’s questions. You need to get to the point where you and your spouse can talk about the affair without pain, because that’s when the true healing begins.
- Step Five: Spend time with your spouse and re-build trust (and the marriage in general). Try to spend time (‘quality’ time, ideally) — have lunch together, talk on the telephone multiple times a day, and be sure to spend evenings and weekends together whenever possible. This helps to show your spouse that you’re focusing on them and keeps you well away from the person you cheated with. One prominent marriage counselor even recommends taking a three-week vacation together with your spouse. This may not always be realistic, but there’s no question that spending time together to re-build trust is key. (Beyond this, you should also be sure to read this article on how to save your marriage and follow the more general advice I share in it.)
Part 2: What To Do If Your Spouse Cheated On You.
Let’s now turn the tables and talk about how to overcome cheating in your marriage when your partner was the unfaithful party. Obviously, if this is the case for you, then you’ll be feeling a wave of emotions: anger, sadness, betrayal, etc. But, as strong as your feelings of hatred may be at the moment, you can move past this affair and re-build a happy marriage. Here’s how:
- Step One: Ask questions. It’s fair to want information, and you have a right to ask. Ask your partner whatever questions pop into your mind: who was it? How many times did you see one another? How long did the affair last? Did you spend money on him/her? Eventually, you may even want to ask why the affair occurred in the first place. But feel free to ask questions and seek information.
- Step Two: Control your emotions. During your need for information, you may find things getting emotional. You may get upset. And this also may prevent your spouse from divulging all the details — which is important, because your obsession with the affair can only truly end when you know the full story. So, if things get emotional when you’re speaking with your spouse about the affair, stop and revisit the topic again another time. You may also find it helpful to limit your discussions to a specific time frame, ie. 20 minutes.
- Step Three: Tell your partner how you feel. Share your own emotions with your spouse. Openly talk about your doubts, feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, and disappointment. As your partner builds a wall between themselves and the person they cheated on you with, you can help open a window of intimacy between the two of you. So truly share your feelings and emotions.
- Step Four: Spend time together. Once the initial healing has taken place, you need to spend time with your spouse to re-build the bond that may have been badly shaken during the affair. As mentioned in part 1, sharing time together after infidelity helps to cut the former lover out of your partner’s life, and helps you share intimate moments together to re-build an emotional connection and enjoy one another’s company.
- Step Five: Forgive your spouse… when you’re ready. Eventually, overtime, the painful memories of your partner’s affair will fade. Forgiveness allows you to move past the pain and anger, leading to eventual reconciliation with your spouse. Take this important step only when you feel truly ready to let go of your anger and negative emotions, and when your partner has truly been honest and open, and has earned back your trust.
I’m sorry that your marriage has been damaged by cheating and infidelity. But please, do not feel like you are alone — this is a problem that plagues millions of couples around the globe. And, with the right actions and enough effort, you can re-build your marriage. Wishing you all the best!