My husband admitted to an affair in December 2012. We’ve worked to regain what we lost, but I’m seriously struggling right now. I dream about his affair and find myself questioning everything he says and does. It’s like I get better and then falter and get mired in the past. How can I get past this? I’m afraid I’m tearing my marriage apart because I can’t forget!
When God created a helpmate for man, he said, “the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2: 24). While God spoke metaphorically, it’s true marriage unites us in a way like no other. That’s why when your husband chose to have an affair—and yes, he did make a deliberate choice—the results are catastrophic. In counseling individuals and couples picking up the broken pieces of their marriage after adultery, I often hear: “I feel gutted”; “I’m devastated”; or, “I’ll never trust again.” The victims of an affair often cannot eat and sleep. Their trust is shattered, and they’re frightened and try to control anything they believe they can control.
But the good news is, you can get through your husband’s affair and you and your husband actually grow as a couple through this experience. God said, after all, “all things work together for good” (Romans 8: 28). Here are some things to remember as you progress through this crisis.
First, don’t let this experience define you or your marriage. Sadly, the incidence of extramarital affairs are at an all-time high–yet most couples make it through to a full recovery. You can recover a vibrant, healthy marriage. But remember, your progress won’t be linear—it will be more like two steps forward, one step back, as you deal with triggers that remind you of the affair.
Second, you and your husband need to erect strict boundaries to ensure the affair is completely over. You need to feel confident he’ll never talk to her again. That means you may need to place limits on his phone, computer, or other ways he had access to her. His world may need to shrink for a time so you’ll feel safe. Your husband must be willing to alter his world to help you recover.
Third, get professional help and trusted support. It’s natural to go into hiding because you feel shame over this. But don’t do it. Reach out for help. Don’t, however, listen to anyone who tells you to “dump him and move on.” Your marriage can be saved, but you need support and wise counsel.
Fourth, explore the issues that may have contributed to your husband’s affair. You owe it to yourself and your mate to explore fully the context in which this affair occurred. Nothing–and I repeat, nothing–explains or justifies your husband’s actions. That said, affairs are a legitimate need expressed in an illegitimate way. Vow to uncover and remedy any broken parts in him and in your marriage.
Fifth, know when to say when. You cannot talk about the affair 24/7. You have a life to live and routines will help you recover some normalcy to your life. Set new boundaries to protect you both. Have times when talking about the affair is off-limits. Weave friendship with your husband back into your marriage.
Finally, trust in the power and work of God to restore your marriage. While it may sound trite, you can become stronger than ever. Believe this because it’s true. Talk to others who’ve come through an affair and learn what they’ve done to rebuild their marriage. Pray together and believe that God’s in the restoration business.