An affair doesn’t have to mean your marriage is over. Here’s what a marriage counselor says about how affairs can save marriages – depending on the reason for the infidelity.
These tips for saving your marriage after an affair are inspired by a wife who found out her husband has been cheating, after 26 years of marriage.
Here’s what the marriage counselor says:
“An affair delivers a power punch that can serve as both a wake up call and a catalyst for improvement in the marital connection,” says Margaret Anne Speak, a marriage and family counselor in Vancouver, BC in Post-Affair: Should You Stay or Go. “It may be a small comfort to know that there is a saying in the field of couples counseling that ‘affairs have saved many marriages.’”
Whether an affair can save your marriage depends on the reasons for the infidelity. Was it a careless decision that both spouses deeply regret? Is the affair the result of a conflicted, unhappy marriage? Or, did the spouse cheat because of a moral weakness or “sex addiction”?
To learn more about how affair can save marriages, read After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful.
And here are a few thoughts on saving your marriage after an affair, including tips from this marriage and family counselor.
Can an Affair Save Your Marriage? It Depends…
Here’s what this wife says…
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“I have been literally sick, knowing that for three to five years he’s been cheating on me with several younger women,” says A. on How to Trust Your Husband After an Affair – Steps to Healing. “He was somewhat serious with one of them. We are trying to work on our marriage, but I don’t fully trust him. He admitted to having a sex problem. He wants to save our marriage, but so often I want out, because what he was doing is sick. I do love him, I think. But this new side or person I never knew has been hard to deal with. I hate what he did to me and our family. What should I do?”
Try to figure out what you really want
You may feel confused, scared, and uncertain – but your gut knows what you should do next.
You need to dig deep into your heart and soul, and find your truth. My two favorite ways to figure out what I really think and feel are: 1) counseling that is objective, professional, and with a therapist that “gets” me; and 2) writing three pages of my thoughts and feelings every morning (Julia Cameron calls this Morning Pages in The Artist’s Way).
You need to listen to your gut. Yes, an affair can save your marriage – but you have to want to save your marriage! If looking at your husband turns your stomach, then maybe it’s not worth the effort to rebuild your marriage.
Remember that saving your marriage is a process that takes years
You won’t wake up one day and feel fresh, clean, and renewed! It takes a lot of time, energy, and hard work to turn the devastation and betrayal that an affair brings into a trusting, loving marriage.
Is your husband willing to see a counselor to overcome his “sex problem”? Is he ready to go for couples counseling or marriage therapy with you? Your spouse’s willingness to do whatever it takes – whatever you require – can make or break your attempts to save your marriage.
But you can’t change him.
“Working on yourself rather than pressuring him to change is your best bet,” says Speak. “This is not easy in the face of a past infidelity.”
Can you live with a man who did what he did, and who won’t easily change? How to Forgive and Trust After an Affair.
Look at the affair as a sign of imbalance
“I think of an affair as a symptom or signal that something is out of balance in the life of the individual who engages in the affair,” says Speak. “There are many events that can create this imbalance: professional pressures, health issues, the death of a friend or family member, financial concerns, worries about children, etc.”
An affair is a devastating betrayal – but it’s also a sign of emotional imbalance. If your husband recognizes this imbalance and is willing to work to overcome it, then the affair may not only save your marriage, but turn out to be the best thing that ever happened in your marriage.
In My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Anne Bercht describes how her husband’s affair saved their marriage.
Become aware of your role in the marriage
A marriage involves two people, right? Plus children – and sometimes even other family members. If you’re involved in the marriage, then you had a role in how and why the affair unfolded.
I am NOT saying you caused the affair! The person who caused the affair was the spouse who cheated.
“If you can get clear about your part in the triangle and define your position to your husband in a calm and thoughtful manner, you may get some relief from the present tensions,” says Speak. “Further, don’t underestimate the importance of staying well connected. Being cool and distant will only ratchet up the intensity.”
Yes, an affair can save your marriage…but it depends on your personality, your spouse’s personality, the health of your marriage, and what you both want out of your lives.
For more thoughts on saving your marriage, read How to Forgive Your Husband After an Affair.
What do you think – can an affair save your marriage? If your spouse has been cheating for a long time, read Steps to Recovering From a Long-Term Affair.