I get a lot of correspondence from people who are trying very hard to recover from or get over their spouse’s cheating. Most of them really do have good intentions and are doing their very best. But, for various and understandable reasons, they sometimes get stuck and just can’t seem to be able to move on. People often ask me what are the steps that they need to take to get over the infidelity once and for all.
In the following article, I’ll tell you what I think are the most important steps that should be completed in order for a person to be able to move on after their spouse cheated or had an affair.
Step One: Knowing That Your Spouse Is Sorry And Is Not Longer In Contact With The Other Person: So often, I have people who ask me why they can’t move on and, with a little probing, I’m very easily able to find a lot of leftover doubt. Of course, there’s bound to be some doubt when your spouse has betrayed you in this way. But, people who struggle for long periods of time generally have doubts that are just not being addressed enough.
In these situations, you will sometimes see that the faithful spouse knows or fears that the other person is still in the picture. Sometimes, the cheating spouse works with or has to interact with the other person. This is an almost impossible situation because the faithful spouse is now always worried about these interactions. Basically, the wound is always being reopened and the faithful spouse is always comparing themselves and doubting themselves and their marriage.
It really is the responsibility of the cheating spouse to decisively and to completely remove themselves from the other person. You can not expect your spouse to trust in you again and to attempt to repair the marriage when they have to worry about this other person all of the time.
Another issue that I see continuously cropping up is that the faithful spouse really does not believe that the cheating spouse is really sorry or remorseful. People often suspect that the sorrow is only an act and that the real sorrow lies in the fact that they were caught and now can’t carry on freely with the other person. Many people (wives especially) fear that the husband is only returning to the marriage because he has too much to lose if he doesn’t.
These issues absolutely have to be addressed and put to rest if the marriage is ever going to fully recover. You just can not have these doubts plaguing you day after day and expect to move on once and for all.
Step Two: Understand What Went Wrong And Have The Courage To Fix It: It’s so tempting to want to close your eyes to all of these issues as quickly as you can. After all, these things are so painful. Who really wants to dwell on this? While it’s certainly not a good idea to dwell, if you don’t figure out what when wrong and then really and completely fix it, that doubt that I talked about is always going to follow you around and compromise your happiness and your ability to feel peace.
This in turn, can’t help but continue to negatively affect your marriage. You’re always going to wonder and worry if these same issues are going to sabotage you again. Yes, working through this is not always easy. And, there might be times where both people have to take a long, hard, and painful look at how they contributed. While I very much resent the implication that a cheating husband is in some way the wife’s fault, every marriage can benefit from both parties taking an honest look at its vulnerabilities.
This isn’t always easy, but when you can come through on the other side, you will have knowledge and confidence that will only help you in the long term.
Step Three: Make Sure That Both Spouses Address Personal Issues And Any Damage To Self Esteem: People often assume that when an affair or cheating happens, the most common cause is because of problems or omissions in the marriage. In other words, people assume that the spouse who was cheated on fell short in some way. The truth is that it’s often the cheating spouse who falls short in some way. Honestly, it’s usually that the cheating spouse is reacting to self doubt, insecurity, and poor impulse control.
And, if these issues are not ultimately addressed and worked through, you are ultimately still vulnerable to them. People are often very reluctant to do self work, because they fear that it’s going to negatively affect their spouse in the marriage in some way. In short, they fear the distance. Often though, the exact opposite happens. Self knowledge is more likely to bring you closer together and to diminish the vulnerabilities.
Most people intuitively know that the spouse who was cheated on will need to work to restore their self esteem. And frankly, I can’t recommend this enough because it helped me tremendously. But the spouse who cheated often has some work to do also. They will often have a great deal of guilt and shame. Many people feel that they deserve this, and that might be true. But if they carry these feelings forward, then they continue to be vulnerable which means that your marriage continues to be vulnerable.
There was a time when I thought I would never get over my husband’s affair, but this is in the past. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
Katie Lersch writes articles about moving past an affair. Her corresponding blog is at http://surviving-the-affair.com/