This question is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter in marriage counselling. The answer is often not a simple or straight forward one, but will require some form of behavourial changes from both spouses. The emotional impact of infidelity can be devastating for the person who was cheated on and regaining trust will take work and effort. The double edged sword often posed is that the spouse on the receiving end of infidelity not only loses trust in his or her spouse but simultaneously experience intense rejection affecting self-esteem. The person who committed the infidelity will have to provide trust and rebuild the trust that was broken through consistent and long-standing efforts. Here are five points to consider for a marriage to survive infidelity.
- Accepting Responsibility
Accepting responsibility for one’s actions is the first step for trust to be rebuilt in the relationship. Owning up to the infidelity in the marriage is a crucial step to rebuilding the marriage. This shows that there is a willingness to take ownership for past behaviour and it allows for the necessary changes to take place as there is a deeper realisation of the effects this behaviour has caused. During marriage counselling I have witnessed a faster recovery process from the infidelity if the other person accepts responsibility, owns up to the action and does not deny the actions entirely. The spouse on the receiving end of the infidelity should, however difficult it may be, see this as an immense progressive step in the road to recovery. If the guilty party remains in denial, rebuilding the marriage remains stagnant and sadly irreconcilable.
- Changes must be Made
Once responsibility has been taken, the necessary changes must be made. The only way for trust to be regained is when there is a commitment from the guilty party to change his/her actions and behavioural patterns. One example of a change that should take place will include managing your time and efforts around the need of your partner as well as including them in all areas of your day to day activities.
- Consistency is Key
The changes that have been made should now be consistently practiced throughout the relationship. This causes one’s partner to start rebuilding trust as they begin to realise that the changes that were made are a continuous commitment which allows them to feel safer and more secure with their partner.
- Rebuilding Trust will Take Time
Many think that once being open and honest about the infidelity towards their partner, allows for the healing process to start immediately. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Usually, it takes a while for one to process all the different emotions related to such an event such as shock, hurt, betrayal, disappointment, disbelief, etc. Once these emotions are somewhat processed the true reality of the situation is now confronted. The most important thing is for one to give their partner the space to express the emotions they have and being patient with their feelings. Realising that these emotions can be triggered at any moment and when it does to then create a safe space for them to release their hurt and frustrations.
- Counselling Support
Marriage Counselling support is always helpful when couples are faced with very difficult circumstances in their marriage. Not only will it provide an opportunity for both partners to be completely honest about their emotions, but it also allows them to feel heard by one another. When a counsellor is present in a session it forces the conversation to be guided in such a way that both partners feel they have been heard and that they are working together to achieve the desired changes and improvements in their relationship.
If you or your partner have been unfaithful the outcome of infidelity does not always have to end up in divorce. If there is deep routed love and commitment from the guilty spouse, the marriage can be saved. If will take consistent hard work but the rewards will make your marriage blossom once again.