20 ways to help restore your marriage after an affair
Some marriages won’t survive an affair, unfortunately.
In fact, I remember reading- only 1 in 3 marriages affected by an affair will make it.
But I truly believe it’s because they didn’t have the right tools to know HOW to recover.
Then, out of frustration, one or both of them gave up.
But Don’t lose hope. That doesn’t have to be your story.
Yours can be one of those marriages that survives and thrives after infidelity. Ours was one of those marriages.
The following 20 tips are what we did to begin the healing process.
Remember: Nothing worth having is ever truly easy.
But it will be sooooo worth it.
I had to keep telling myself that during our hardest days.
Some days will be easier than others in affair recovery.
But pushing through the hard days was what helped us and will help you too.
Keep your eye on the prize- a healed and restored marriage!
You can’t do the work for your spouse, and your spouse can’t do the work for you.
That can be the hard part about healing a marriage after an affair.
It takes two that are committed to working on their own part, all while feeling the
pain that infidelity brings. But it does get easier, I promise.
But these are the steps you can take today, to begin the healing process.
1. The unfaithful spouse must stop ALL contact completely. No phone calls, text, No Contact at all. (You can read more details on how to break off an affair here.)
2. Distance yourselves from anyone who is not for your marriage surviving or who speaks negatively about your spouse.
3. Get a good counselor. One for each spouse personally, and one marriage counselor.
Be sure the marriage counselor holds the view of saving the marriage. If you don’t find the right counselor at first, don’t give up. Keep looking until you have a good fit.
4. Find friends, or recovery support groups, of caring people that have walked through affair recovery too if possible. You can each trust that these people get what you’re going through, and they’ll hold you both accountable for your part of healing the marriage.
5. The unfaithful spouse must be willing to be completely transparent about everything. No secrets.
Be accountable for time out. Limit time out alone, if possible. Be willing to give up privacy or control for awhile.
6. Get in a small group with other people who care, even if it’s not with people who know about the infidelity you’re going through. Many churches have small groups that would be helpful. Be faithful in attending, whether or not you share the specifics of your current crisis. Just meeting with other people in a community setting weekly can really have a positive impact on your marriage.
7. The unfaithful spouse must be willing to answer questions the betrayed spouse may ask, even if it’s painful to answer. It may be necessary for their healing to not feel left out of certain truths about the affair.
8. Be patient when your (betrayed) spouse is having a difficult day and needs more reassurance, or needs to know more about the affair.
Just try to have patience and empathy for them. Sometimes they’ll ask the same questions but it’s mostly because it’s all confusing right now.
9. Agree to a set amount of time to talk about the affair (questions, pain, feelings…) and then agree to stop when the time is up. Use a timer if needed. We agreed to 30 min. and sometimes we felt it was best to stop talking about it after 20 min.
10. Pray together. If you are not a Christian, this may not seem relevant. However, I truly believe praying together helped heal our marriage quicker. Each day or night, just hold hands and pray for each other, your marriage and family.
11. Find non-sexual ways of touching. Back rubs, foot massaging, or just hold hands while watching TV.
12. Start slow with sex again. Only when both feel ready. Be prepared that there may be memories or flashbacks. It may be emotional for both, yet keep expectations in check.
Be gentle with each other.
13. Develop new routines, or habits, together. Build a new relationship again. Ours was holding each other at night before sleep.
14. Unfaithful spouse should avoid places you may have gone that trigger old memories. Keep accountable to spouse and trusted friend of no contact with affair partner.
15. Unfaithful spouse needs to write down things about the affair partner that you disliked. All the things that you failed to see initially. Also, write down how the lies and sneaking around made you feel. Look at that list when tempted to call or reestablish contact.
16. If the affair partner works with wayward spouse, change jobs if possible. Or, at least a different department.
17. Is a move to another city or state possible? Sometimes a new start in a new location away from gossip, places that trigger memories or the chance of bumping into that person again makes moving easier for healing to take place. Changing churches may also be necessary. This one helped speed up our healing.
18. Find ways to express love and appreciation to your spouse. Think back to why you fell in love to begin with. Do the things you did in the beginning. Talk kindly to one another, be giving and helpful. Find ways to serve each other.
19. Go on a date with your spouse at least once a week. We read recommendations to spend at least 10 hours a week together, we aimed at 15 hours, and did it. Even simple dates to a coffee shops or sandwich store. Bring playing cards or something different to do together without having to talk about the affair all the time. Find ways to have fun, try a new hobby, visit a new place. Sometimes we need to take our minds off the affair for a designated time to reconnect.
20. Guard your heart against anger or comparisons. Really try to listen to the heart of your spouse and their own pain. Practice active listening-feed back what the other person said. Know that your hurt spouse needs reassurance and to be heard. And both of you are hurting in different ways.
It is possible to have a happy, restored marriage after an affair.
It will take work and time, but it is possible. And it’s so worth all the effort.
How about you? What have you found to be helpful in the healing process or in what ways are you both getting stuck?
Let me know in the comments or email me [email protected]
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