Unfortunately, all too often couples find themselves in the midst of dealing with an affair. The affair can be emotional, physical, or part of an addiction. Even though each couple has unique issues to work through in regards to why the affair happen, there are some core qualities that couples need to have to increase their chances of recovery.
Without a doubt humbleness in the most important quality needed to survive an affair. The person who has committed the betrayal must be in a place to be humble and broken with their spouse. They need to be willing to admit their fault, fears, and failures. They need to be able to go outside their comfort zone and go out of their way to help build trust with their spouse.
It is important for the spouse that has been betrayed to show up on the couch with some humbleness as well. So this may not always happen at the beginning. Of course the betrayed spouse almost always shows up on the couch with lots of anger, pain, and reactivity. It’s normal. There needs to be a willingness to help look at how they contributed to the overall place the marriage has gotten. Of course it is not their fault the affair has happened, but the system of the marriage must not be running on all cylinders for an affair to happen. If this is not improved, it only leaves the space for future affairs.
When you find out your spouse has had an affair it is like you were just walking down the side of the road one day and got hit by a Mack truck. Before you know it, you are laying bloody and broken. It takes time to recover from this! You will not feel better tomorrow. You will probably not feel better in a couple of months. It will most likely be 6 months before you even feel human again. This is absolutely normal and expected. Do not rush feeling better. Do not rush into being lovey dovey, going on dates, or being intimate with your partner. Grieving and healing takes time. Allow yourself this time. Often we let our loneliness, fear of the relationship ending, or feeling like we have competition get the best of us. Wait. Listen to your gut. You need space and time.
If the system of the marriage is not understood, it only leaves the door open for future heartache. There is no excuse for infidelity, but there are underlying issues that made it possible. Maybe the marriage is missing emotional intimacy. Maybe one partner has so much resentment they can’t see straight. Maybe the spouse saw his parents have affair after affair and there is an underlying sense that this is what marriage is. I could list hundreds of more reasons, but you have to find the reason specific for your relationship. Again, this process can be difficult for the spouse that has been betrayed. They do not want their spouse to have a “pass” or “excuse” for what happened. This is not what this process is. This is a truth finding mission necessary to create a healthy relationship moving forward.
I have seen countless couples who have suffered an infidelity. There is never a guarantee whether a couple will make it through. I can tell you that almost every couple that I have worked with that have a happy and healthy relationship after an affair have had at least these three qualities. There can be happiness after infidelity. The journey is long and hard, but worth it in the end.