“If my spouse ever has an affair, I’m out!”
All too often we are conditioned and almost brainwashed to believe that a relationship should and must end after a partner has been unfaithful. At some point, we have all been guilty of planning hypothetical responses to acts of infidelity, by responding to scenarios like: “if that was me, I would blah, blah, blah.”
But when such fates are actually dealt to you, you may find yourself surprisingly feeling quite clueless about how to react, what to do next and where to turn. Trust me; I know.
When an infidelity has been revealed in your marriage, that reality will hit hard. And believe you me, it will hurt like hell!!!!! (You feel me on all the explanation marks?)
It doesn’t take much to think that you would leave if your spouse betrays you, but trust me, when confronted with the reality of divorce and dismantling your marriage, the very marriage you are vested in and have worked so hard to build causes things to get real in the field!
I know firsthand from experience, rebuilding a marriage after an affair is anything but easy. Yet, what I’m here to tell you and reminded you of is that you too are an overcomer as the Word says, and it can be done!
Would you believe that almost half of married couples devastated by infidelity chose to stay in their marriages after the discovery? In order to move forward you must confront and conquer what led to the infidelity by obtaining the required help to recover with TRUSTED parties! I can’t emphasize that enough…TRUSTED my friends!
Okay, so let me give the disclaimer: I don’t condone infidelity, yet being a survivor and most importantly thriver, I understand it. It is both my personal experience but my professional experience, which allows me to believe that divorce is not the answer when you are dealing with a genuinely remorseful spouse who is committed to changing. Yes that is right; people do change! I’m not speaking about those repeat offenders; you know the ones who cheat repeatedly with no remorse. Understand you are going to NEED help, and that is understandable and expected.
So here are the best people, places and resources to turn to immediately when infidelity happens in your marriage. Hopefully, these resources will help you and your fractured marriage go from surviving to thriving!
1) LEAN ON ME
After discovering the affair, I felt like a caged bird that needed to be set free. So I fled to the car and began to back out of my driveway with tear-filled eyes. I drove to the next block to collect myself as much as possible—enough not to drive with tears in my eyes, not to endanger myself and others while driving.
So as I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and manage the tears, I then asked myself “who can you call,” “where can you go,” and “who has been where I am right now AND successfully navigated the affair.” Why these questions?
- “Who can you call”
This stemmed from the need to think logically. I knew at this moment my emotions could get the best of me. Therefore, I needed to speak to someone sensible who would help balance the mess while helping me to make sense of it in that very moment. So I called my oldest sister. She has always been that logical sounding board for me through the years. Who is that TRUSTED logical sounding board for you?
- “Where can you go”
I knew I could not be out driving around aimlessly in such a fragile condition (and besides gas prices were sky high back then, LOL). I selected to be around TRUSTED friends, whom I knew were SAFE to be vulnerable around, cry around and ultimately fall apart in front of their presence because that is exactly what happened. Remember this won’t be easy, but in the end, it is worth all of the tears when you come out on the other side. Stay with me here.
- “Who has been where I am right now AND successfully navigated the affair”
This was one of the most important questions I asked myself. And I strongly encourage you to ask yourself. As I mentioned above, it is so easy for people to think what they will do until they have “been there, done that.” So someone who has been here AND successfully navigated the affair will understand fully from experience and be equipped in assisting you now and down the road. It is one thing to say “who has been where I’m at” and another to add “AND successfully navigated the affair” because many may have been there and done that, but have they also become jaded with hardened hearts?
Special Note: In all of the above, I always considered parties that KNEW us both in an effort to avoid skewed perspectives while being fair and tender to us both.
2) STAND BY ME
Seeking a professional counselor should be your next course of action. I chose this excerpt from my book Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted, which I think perfectly sums up the importance of a counselor during your next stage of recovery:
Rest assured you are not alone as there are large numbers of people seeking assistance with infidelity through counseling. Counseling has a negative view in our society, but I can tell you it was one of the best decisions I/we made! In case you are unfamiliar with counseling, let me share our experience with you.
Our counselor would see us together (and separately at times) and focused on clarifying and improving our communication patterns. She provided a multitude of exercises to help us achieve this goal. I appreciated her being very thorough and someone I consider to be a skilled therapist. She emphasized mutual-need gratification, social role expectations, communication patterns, the importance of fidelity and other linked interpersonal factors that contributed to the success of our marriage.
If you are in Chicago or surrounding area and would like a referral to our counselor, then please go to my site danaymacklin.com and let me know. The best referrals are from happy customers or clients via word of mouth!
Often, it is observed that happily married couples tend to differ from unhappily married couples in that that they talk more to each other, keep all channels of communication open, make more use of non-verbal techniques of communication and show more sensitivity to each other’s feelings and needs.
A therapist can serve as a supportive listener as each partner expresses his or her emotions regarding the infidelity and can help the couple determine their needs and future goals for the relationship, whether they choose to maintain or end it.
If the couple wishes to maintain the relationship, a therapist can assist them by helping each partner discover his or her level of commitment to the relationship, teaching the partners skills for repairing trust and guiding the couple through the process of healing as touched on above.
Add a Marriage Coach to your Marital Board of Directors (Coach vs. Counselor)
In most cases, the two can be complementary, and yet, they’re totally different. Marriage counselors are trained in traditional schools of psychotherapy. This approach is more talk oriented and works well in many cases.
I, on the other hand as a marriage coach, take a more non-traditional approach based on experience and expertise in cultivating, inspiring, nurturing and encouraging an authentic experience in healing, centered on forgiveness for self and spouse while building a marriage better than before—true love after adultery! Hence the title of my book.
I wish I would have had a me, as in a marriage coach to offset the counseling sessions back when I was going through it. But I thank God, we have successfully came out on the other side…Amen! You will too!!! YOU GOT THIS!!!
Special Note: All coaches, counselors and therapists are NOT created equal! PLEASE do your homework in terms of interviewing them if they have experience with counseling couples experiencing infidelity and how long they’ve been counseling in this specialty. Also, ask how successful they have been in the arena. And most of all, TRUST YOUR INSTINCT and make sure you BOTH are FULLY comfortable with the selected counselor to ensure your marital success. Lastly, if you can get a trusted referral, then please do.
3. SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
Withstanding infidelity in a marriage can take its toll on all parties involved. Lord knows this has been revealed to me on many levels. I’m NOT religious, but I’m rather a spiritual woman who is a believer. I’m not here to beat you over the head with the Word or place judgment on you or your situation. At the same time, my wish is for you to explore your spirituality and/or ignite the love of God that already exists in you.
I’m encouraged to share our story and a big part of my healing happened as a direct result of activating my faith.
Allow me to paint a picture for you: Prior to the infidelity, we would attend church every Sunday or every other Sunday (when work was not breaking me down like a Hebrew slave). However, after discovering the affair, I found myself in church “religiously” EVERY Sunday, every Wednesday, church classes and any other church activity that would assist in the healing process.
This was all followed by nightly prayers on my knees, begging God to forgive all of us. Most of all, I prayed desperately to heal my broken heart and restore our marriage to a place of blissful recognition and restoration.
Prayer can help you through this tough time, and praying for your husband can help him sort out his issues and respect you as his wife and learn to keep his vows…this was certainly true for me and my marriage during this difficult time. Also, group prayers and prayer calls will add more positive energy to your prayers and create a dramatic impact on your life and marriage.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you feel weighed down by your spouse’s infidelity, you don’t have to pray alone. Remember there are organizations out here that will pray with you and for you, while directing you to other resources. One such resource was founded by my good friend Felicia Houston “Anointed Wives Ministry.”
Talk with your spiritual leaders at your church or ask a trusted spiritual friend or family member for an introduction, or perhaps another wife/husband who has marriage tenure and can serve as POSITIVE mentors. I strongly encourage you and your husband to go to counseling together along with seeking spiritual counseling.
Remember to pray daily, but most of all just pray! If you are finding it difficult to find the words to articulate, may you find comfort in praying the below prayer:
“Lord, I pray that You would strengthen my spouse to resist any temptation that comes their way. Stamp it out of their mind before it ever reaches their heart or personal experience. Lead them not into temptation, but deliver them from evils such as adultery, pornography, drugs, alcohol, food addiction, gambling and perversion. Remove temptation especially in the area of (name specific temptation). Make them strong where they are weak. Help them to rise above anything that erects itself as a stronghold in their life.
“I pray that (husband’s/Wife’s name) will not be broken down by the power of evil, but raised up by the power of God. Establish a wall of protection around him/her. Fill him/her with Your spirit and flush out all that is not of You. Help him/her to take charge over his/her own spirit and have self-control to resist anything and anyone who becomes a lure. I pray that he/she will be repulsed by tempting situations. Give him/her the courage to reject them. Teach him/her to walk in the Spirit so he/she will not fulfill the lust of the flesh,”
Always be open to receive and ask for help. God works miracles in marriages, and yours is no exception!
BMWK, what resources did you turn to when trust was betrayed in your relationship?