Affairs shatter relationships. Everything breaks and a couple has to sort through all the pieces to see how and if they can rebuild a marriage after an affair.
Many find the rebuilding process to be hopeless and the relationship ends. But others find a long path of healing to walk along. It has many bumps and can be really rocky, but eventually can end in a healthier relationship than before it came crumbling down.
The following are specific steps for couples to follow that give their relationship a jump start down a healing path.
Immediate steps to take to rebuild a marriage after an affair has been found out:
1. Seek IMMEDIATE help from a professional. The longer you wait the harder the healing process is. Don’t expect that you and your partner can navigate your own way through this. You are too emotionally involved to stay focused.
2. The person you had the affair with needs to be gone. Completely cutoff contact. This is a must if trust is going to be rebuilt.
3. Both of you must make a commitment to the long road of healing for it to work. There are no quick fixes on this journey.
4. Full disclosure of things such as who it was with, what happened, when, how long, where, and that it ended are important. No new details should come up later. Otherwise you will start back from square one every time. The more new details that leak out along the way, the less chance the relationship has to rebuild trust and heal.
5. Look at the causes that led up to the affair. This is important to do with the help of a professional to find the unhealthy dynamics of your relationship that existed before the affair occurred.
Once the above steps are started, you can begin these long term steps to help rebuild after an affair. These steps all happen simultaneously and must continue over a significant period of time to be effective.
Rebuild safety in the relationship
Healthy communication and fair fighting are key to feeling safe. Remember you’re on the same team, not enemies of each other.
Trust is built with long term evidence. Do what you say you’re going to do consistently over a long period of time.
Begin the forgiveness process
Forgiveness may be something you have to do multiple times a day through this process and it can take a long time. It can be scary and overwhelming, but remember that working through forgiveness is part of the healing process for both of you. Building a healthy relationship cannot be done without forgiveness.
Manage triggers as they arise
This is sometimes a 2 person task. Many times the one who has been cheated on can process and resolve triggers about the betrayal on their own, but often times this person needs reassurance and support from their partner when a trigger occurs. I often tell clients that the “wounder” becomes the “healer” in this part of the healing journey. Doing this helps to rebuild trust and can emotionally reconnect the couple when it is done in a healthy way.
This is a difficult, yet powerful process to go through. There are many twists and turns beyond what I’ve simply stated here. But remember you can rebuild after an affair. There is HOPE when both are willing to put in the long term effort.