Learning that your spouse has had an affair can feel like your entire life, your entire history, perhaps your very world has crashed in over you. Maybe you're so hurt that you're ready to run for the hills, but so in love with your spouse that, no matter how angry you are, yo can't envision your life with this person. You are not alone. Affairs are exceedingly common, with more than half of spouses cheating at least once. The good news is that about 40% of couples not only survive an affair, but go on to report a happy relationship after recovering. You can be among this group, but you have to be willing to put in the work.
Why Spouses Stray
In a world where both men and women face intense pressure to conform to a mythical and unreasonable norm, it should come as no surprise that women believe that men cheat because they are dissatisfied with their partners' appearance or weight. Men, by contrast, attribute women's unfaithfulness to factors such as financial success, romance, and adventure. The truth, though, is that people cheat because of two conditions: first, they're not getting what they need out of their relationship, and second, a cheating partner is available. It's no more complicated than that. Spend enough time in an unhappy marriage, and someone is bound to cheat.
Of course, some partners swear up and down that they were happy when they cheated. But lurking below the surface is often boredom, dissatisfaction, and a lifetime of resentment. This doesn't mean the victim of the affair is to blame, but it takes two people to create a climate where cheating can occur, and two to fix it.
Can You Work It Out?
If you went six months without sex, would you declare your marriage over? IF you're like most people, the answer is a resounding no. Marriage isn't just about sex, so sex with another person does not have to mean that everything your marriage stands for counts for nothing. If you're ready to work past the affair, a couple of things need to happen:
- The cheater needs to be fully contrite, committed to honesty about the affair, and willing to completely end all contact with the affair partner.
- The victim of cheating needs to be committed to understanding what went wrong.
- The cheater needs to work to rebuild the victim's self-esteem.
- Both parties have to want to work out the relationship; sometimes it takes time to be sure you want to fix things, but you can't get back on track till you're both ready to commit to your relationship.
Steps Towards Happiness
If you're ready to move beyond infidelity, marriage counseling is an absolute must. Through therapy, you can explore what went wrong in a safe and supportive environment. Some other things you can do include:
Bringing adventure back into your relationship by trying new things – including new sexual goals -- together.
Working to show appreciation to one another every day.
- Bringing adventure back into your relationship by trying new things – including new sexual goals -- together.
- Working to show appreciation to one another every day.
- Nurturing honesty, intimacy, and trust by being honest and open, working to explore your partner's feelings, and spending some time together each day.