Affair healing Blog
A word to those of you who've had an affair...
I met with a couple who were desperate to determine whether or not their marriage was salvageable. She had recently discovered evidence of repeated sexual communications with other women over the past year and suspected there might be more to the truth. While speaking privately with me, he admitted a history of unfaithfulness in previous relationships and expressed a desire to break this pattern once and for all. In the counseling session, he told her the same thing.
Her response was full of wisdom, expressed in a way that I'd never quite heard before. Here's how their conversation went.
Her: Was there something missing in our relationship? Was there some need I failed to meet that made you want to connect with these women?
She got it! She knew recovery would require his willingness to put up with a double pain: the letting go of the other women, and separation he would feel from his wife during her bouts of confusion, grief, and anger.
This is a fact that most betrayers fail to fully understand. There is a cost to repairing their marriage, and it is paid in sacrifice. The betrayer must be willing to go through a period of painful disconnect with their spouse until enough healing takes place to allow them to risk being vulnerable again.
If you are willing to fix your marriage after your affair, you cannot demand quick forgiveness or a rush to "get back to normal." You cannot manipulate your spouse by blaming them for the struggles your marriage experience. I am not suggesting that you have to accept the blame for every problem your marriage is going to face, but you do need to accept the blame for this problem.
Don't let the words, "You just need to get over it" come out of your mouth. Instead, let words like this be your sincere expression, "I know I am responsible for this hurt and I know it's going to take you time to heal. I want you to forgive me and love me without doubt again. I will help you get there. Tell me what you need from me."
If you do this, will it guarantee a satisfying reconnection? No, but in my experience it is rare for a spouse to refuse forgiveness to a partner who makes this kind of sacrifice. On the other hand, refusing to pay the price is certain to leave you with an unsatisfactory repair and a recovery that is incomplete.
You tend to get what you pay for.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder