Surviving an affair requires the creation of a safe space in order to begin exploring the possibilities of reconciliation. Without safety, how can a couple be authentic with one another about what has happened and what is needed? Both husband and wife need to know that the other will be committed to the relationship while the two of them give it a fair shot. What follows are suggestions for commitments that each need to make to provide the necessary safety for a marriage to move forward after an affair.
- Removing the third-party from the relationship. In order for the hurt spouse to reengage with their mate, they need to know that the unfaithfulspouse will terminate (at least for a season) the relationship with their affair partner (AP) (if there is one) or other extramarital behaviors. Whatever caused the break of the marital vows needs to be stopped.
- Who do you tell? For the marriage to be safe enough to even explore if there is anything worth salvaging, both parties need to protect the marital boundaries by limiting whom they talk to about their situation. I recommend that both the unfaithful spouse and the hurt spouse identify 1 to 2 people they would like to be able to process with and do their best to agree on who these people should be. It’s best if these individuals have either successfully worked through a betrayal or who are going to be supportive of both parties, regardless of what happens. Telling anyone who will listen about your situation isn’t healthy for you or your mate. You’ll never be able to take it back, and it’s very disappointing how some people respond.
- For the relationship to be safe enough, children also need to be protected. Far too often a husband or a wife will bring the children into the strife either as a confidant (which is called spousification and is extremely abusive to the child) or they will threaten to tell the children what’s going on as a way of manipulating their mate. At other times, when stress is high, one of the parents will unilaterally tell the children they are getting divorced and throw the children into their own chaos, only to later change their mind when things calm down. For safety’s sake, both parents need to agree not to involve children and infidelity until the agreed upon time period is complete.
- The work place can certainly present challenges for making the relationship safe. For the hurt spouse, it may serve as a trigger and create emotional flooding, especially if it was an office romance or the work place is associated with the infidelity. The unfaithful spouse needs to do what he or she can to create a safe situation at their work place for their mate’s sake. Also, the hurt spouse needs to be considerate of their mate while they are at work. Continually badgering their mate while at work can jeopardize the financial safety for the entire family. As much as possible, the hurt spouse should allow their mate to fulfill their responsibilities beyond the marriage. As with the children, make it safe by not allowing marital problems to leak into the work place.
About Affair Recovery
Affair Recovery specializes in helping people heal after infidelity. After recovering from his own affair 25 years ago and helping 2,000+ other couples do the same, founder Rick Reynolds and his team have developed research-validated, groundbreaking online and in-person programs for redeeming the losses created by infidelity, betrayal, and sexual addiction. Take the free Affair Analyzer online assessment, to learn more, visit www.AffairRecovery.com