Your spouse’s cheating has the effect of pulling the rug out from under you while also crumbling the foundation of your marriage and annihilating your vows to one another.
Despite the devastation, many victims of an affair have a desire to save their marriage, with the affair being just a very excruciating bump in the road. They think, “I have invested many years with this person—sacrificing, negotiating and accommodating—why should I give all that effort away to someone else? I want things to go back to the way they once were.”
In this post, I’ll show you why going “back” maybe isn’t such a hot idea, and give you some steps to get your efforts to save your marriage moving forward toward a stronger, healthier, happier marriage.
Looking Back to Happier Times in Your Marriage
It can be a mistake to expend your energy trying to move your relationship back to where it once was. By moving it “back,” you’re actually retreating to the birthplace of your current marriage problems.
Of course, during this time of pain and anguish, you are reaching for the happier times. You’re nostalgic for the innocence of a time when you didn’t have to deal with the ugliness of learning your spouse cheated. You want the good memories, not the torturous ones spawned by infidelity.
The past is gone, and even though it’s tempting to put on those rose-colored glasses to view those past years, many married couples are actually carrying their injuries, hurts and slights from previous years right up into the present. This is why looking backwards and working to get there can have you dragging past negativity into your present attempts to rebuild your marriage—and destroy your chances of building a better-than-ever relationship with your spouse.
So, if it’s not a good idea to get things back to where they once were, where does that leave you?
Rebuild a Brand New Marriage Foundation
It can be unnerving to move into the future if you’re not sure where to place your footing when it comes to your marriage’s foundation. As most couples who are working to save their marriage after an affair can attest to—it’s not easy.
But for those who put in the effort to not only rebuild their marriage—but to create a brand new foundation, those couples will tell you that the effort was worth it, and they are now experiencing a much stronger relationship, better than they’d ever dreamed possible.
Does that sound like something you’d be interested in having in your own marriage?
It may seem a little hard to believe from where you are right now, especially if the revelation of the affair is fresh and you’re dealing with the torment of images and negative thoughts swirling through your head. You may have difficulty believing things will actually improve, let alone become better than what you’ve ever experienced. But realize, saving your marriage is a process, and it will take time.
To survive an affair and build a stronger marriage than you ever thought possible, there is some groundwork that must be accomplished first. Whether you have already done the work of healing yourself, or are just starting the process, know that you can ultimately move toward a point where you won’t worry about picking up broken pieces—you’ll be looking to build a fresh foundation.
But in order to effectively move forward as a couple, you need to resolve old issues first. Here are some initial steps toward that stronger marriage:
1) Define Your Marital Hot Spots
You and your spouse will need to take stock and pinpoint your trouble hot spots. These are the recurring issues that arise from unmet needs, such as:
- Do you and your spouse fulfilling one another’s need in how to express affection?
- Are you and your spouse arguing over how to effectively communicate?
- Is there a need to spend time together in a certain way, i.e. dates, holidays, vacations, that isn’t currently being met?
- Are tasks being divided up so that both spouses are satisfied?
- Have you agreed on the amount of effort to expend in saving your marriage?
These are the problems that you argue about continually, and the needs go unmet. They are not an excuse for an affair. But to move forward, you have to know where you’ve been in limbo.
2) Be Specific on What You Need to Come Into Agreement On
When you and your spouse have defined those hot spots which lead to arguments and discord in your marriage, you need to specifically state exactly which needs are important to you to come into agreement on.
It helps to write these down. Think of it as a goal sheet. By writing out your specific needs that you want to come into agreement on, you can eliminate some of the misunderstanding that can occur from only verbalizing these needs.
After arguing for months and years about the same topics, both you and your spouse may have unconsciously developed a means of tuning one another out, or keeping your walls up and your rebuttal at hand. In order to work toward a stronger marriage, it’s time to put away those old gimmicks.
3) Brainstorm Marriage-Saving Solutions Together
Writing down your needs and coming to an agreement that these are the items you need to work on is only partially getting to your goal. Now comes the work of reaching your goals—together.
In order to reach the goal of resolving recurring problems in your marriage, you will need to develop solutions together. For example, if you have a need for your spouse to show affection for you by taking your hand when walking together in public, a solution may be a test run somewhere, asking your spouse to take the opportunity to show he/she is into you by claiming your hand for all to see!
It’s a simplistic example, but you can see that many times, the solution is simply a matter of developing a new habit, and it will take practice.
Surviving an affair and saving your marriage requires a broad range of effort from both you and your spouse. Problems and issues that took years to develop and entrench won’t resolve themselves overnight, nor will painful affair memories go away at the flip of a switch.
Saving your marriage is a commitment to stepping outside of old habits and comfort zones, and into unfamiliar territory. But in exchange, you may finally have the marriage of your dreams.
I’d like to learn more about the efforts you are making to save your marriage after the affair…
Have you and your spouse worked on undoing old habits that have caused strife in your marriage?
Are you taking a fresh look at your marriage’s hot spots, and working on doing something different to resolve those areas?
Have you done the groundwork in self-healing, to better prepare you for the energy you’ll need to build a better marriage?
Please share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,