There is never a good reason or excuse for having an affair and destroying your marriage vows. Period.
A cheater is fully responsible for their actions, and the justifications they come up with to make themselves feel better. Regardless of whether or not your spouse contemplates and goes through with an affair, your marriage may still have very legitimate problems that need to be addressed.
In this post, I’ll help you examine your relationship and identify ways to remove the allure of looking outside of the marriage in order to avoid the work of solving the problems within. These tips are applicable whether you are working to save your marriage before an affair happens—or you are in a position of trying to save your marriage post-affair.
Cheaters Have No Good Reason to Cheat
There may not be a good excuse for cheating, but that doesn’t mean cheaters haven’t tried to come up with one. The same old tired themes keep appearing:
“I didn’t feel loved anymore…”
“We never did anything fun together as a couple…”
“I never see him—he/she is always working…”
“He/she didn’t understand me or my needs…”
When cheating spouses say these things, it’s probably all the victim can do not to pull their own hair out. Your spouse was willing to throw away everything you had—over something that could have been worked on in the marriage?
Hopefully, you are in a position to examine your relationship and not having to see it through the ugly filter of an affair. Unfortunately, many spouses resort to an affair because it’s a lot easier to get caught up in a fantasy world than it is to deal with hard reality.
There are no guarantees that a spouse won’t cheat—even as you’re trying to do everything in your power to make your spouse happy. Many victims of an affair will say: “I tried to be the perfect wife/husband… what more could I have done to make him/her happy?” To which I say, there’s only so much you can do, but if a spouse has a character defect and decides to cheat despite all of your best efforts, there’s nothing you could have done “better”—a marriage is both spouse’s responsibility.
It’s time, then, to examine your relationship, and then consider a remedy for any issues you’ve identified:
Tip 1: Assess Your Emotional Connection
Maybe you and your spouse realize that you both are currently far from being the perfect spouse. In what ways has the relationship faltered? Has it become rundown, taken for granted, or has there been neglect? Is communication between you strong, or has it evaporated?
This type of examination of your marriage will show both you your spouse where you could make an effort, either to make each other feel special, reestablish good communication ties, or devote time and attention to the relationship by making plans together that don’t involve chores. Without an investment of this type, you’re likely to find areas where your emotional connection has eroded.
Tip 2: Understand the Types of Communication
As discussed in a previous post, there is more than one type of communication. You may have great discussions, but how’s your non-verbal communication? You need this type of communication just as much as verbal to deepen the intimacy between you.
Think back to the early days of your courtship: you probably couldn’t keep your hands off of one another. You couldn’t wait to spend time together, and the hours probably felt like mere minutes. You held hands, kissed, cuddled… and then what happened?
Yes, life may have got in the way a bit, but it’s important that you make the effort to strengthen your non-verbal communication bonds. Come up with new ways to connect on a more intimate level, whether it’s going out dancing, to the movies and holding hands, or a myriad of other ways to experience your partner.
Tip 3: Experiment with New Communication Methods
Verbal communication may have devolved to the point of reciting grocery items needed for a trip to the store, and you call it a day. If this is where your relationship is, it’s time to break out the big guns and make it your mission to enliven your communication with your spouse.
At first, your spouse may not be receptive. If poor communication has become a habit, it’s going to take time to establish a more healthy habit.
You and your spouse can work together or separately in evaluating your marriage. Each of you brings a different perspective, and one of you may feel something is lacking that the other partner isn’t even aware of. The point is to identify the issues, put work into making these areas your strengths—and keep both spouse’s attention focused on the marriage.
I would like to hear from you about your assessments of the state of your marriage …
Have you taken time to examine your marriage recently? If so, what prompted your effort: did your spouse have an affair, or did you just feel things were headed in the wrong direction?
What current weaknesses in your marriage are you working on strengthening?
Is your spouse receptive to putting in the effort to strengthen your marriage?
Please share your experiences and thoughts on this topic with the Marriage Sherpa community by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,