Stage 4- how to rebuild your marriage after an affair.
Is the thought of rebuilding your marriage after an affair seem impossible, and even hopeless, right now?
Even if you are the spouse who was stubborn or unfaithful, I believe you still have a good chance of saving your marriage if we start now.
If you’ve ended the affair, and your spouse is willing to try, the odds are in your favor.
I know this because our marriage looked pretty hopeless for over a year.
And I was that stubborn spouse.
I was in and out of my affair, and very confused, for many months.
In my heart, I realized I wanted to stop and restore my marriage.
I knew it was the right thing, but the affair had such a hold over me, it became its own addiction and stronghold.
I was deep in the affair fog and didn’t know how to get free.
Eventually, I realized how truly miserable I was,
and how I wanted to stay with my husband and keep our family together more than anything.
I became willing to walk through whatever difficulty I needed to, in order to save my marriage.
You can read our marriage story here.
Also, at the bottom of this page, and on my home page, you’ll see a form to get my free e-book
“19 ways you can restore your marriage after an affair.” I give more details of what we did that worked.
So, are you the the unfaithful wife (usually I’m writing for the wife, but these same words can apply to an unfaithful husband),
struggling to find answers in deciding what you want or how to break off the affair for good?
Or, maybe you are the betrayed husband (again this can apply for betrayed wives), completely confused by the behavior of your wayward wife, and you want to save your marriage, but you don’t know where to start.
Either way, I believe you do have a chance of the reconciliation of your marriage.
Yes, each partner has their own role in rebuilding the marriage, and you can’t control what your spouse is doing or feels right now.
But I do believe you have a bigger influence upon your spouse, than you may realize.
When we each work on ourselves, and then begin treating our spouse with the same love and attention we did in the beginning of our relationship,
we become more attractive and desirable to them. It may not happen right away, and there’s no guarantees that they’ll turn their heart back around.
But I strongly believe, there are many marriages that may look hopeless, but they actually can be healed and restored.
However, if someone continues acting out in the affair, there’s only so much you can do, as a betrayed spouse,
to heal the marriage if your spouse doesn’t want to stay. That’s between you and God in how long you wait for them.
Don’t let anyone rush you through that process.
But isn’t it worth making the effort now to see if it can be healed before jumping too quickly into a divorce? At least
you’ll know in your heart, later, you did all you could.
We had to come to a point where we put a stake in the ground and said this is it. We’re burning the ships and not looking back.
We’re going to stick through this thing and restore our marriage. You can read this post on our story of “burn the ships.”
What you can do to rebuild your marriage after an affair.
First, for the unfaithful spouse:
1. Stick to your commitment to end the affair…and keep it ended.
- The decision to keep the affair broken off and the commitment to rebuild your marriage after an affair,
will need to be made over and over again, sometimes multiple times in one day.
- There is a withdrawal period much like an addict feels.
This withdrawal period is a result of the complete disconnection of any contact with the affair partner.
It’s vital to walk through this, and not go back into the affair when it gets uncomfortable.
“Marital recovery cannot begin until withdrawal symptoms from ending the affair has been complete.”
What are withdrawal symptoms?
It’s the initial feeling of sorrow, loss, grief and desperation to resume those feelings you had before.
It may not make logical sense to anyone who has not experienced it, but it’s a lot like the withdrawal one goes through after stopping an addiction of any kind.
Stopping any habit, or addiction, takes perseverance and commitment to get through the difficulties in the beginning days or weeks.
Depression is usually one of the emotions that will come for the unfaithful spouse as the fog of the affair begins to lift.
It’s normal to go through a grieving process.
But, trust me, it does get better.
Each day you go with no contact with the affair partner it gets easier,
and the withdrawal feelings of depression and grief will start to subside.
(We talked about that more in detail in Stage 3/breaking off an affair, click here to read).
Once the unfaithful spouse has walked through this initial phase of pulling away from the affair partner,
and keeps the ‘no contact’ rule, the real work of rebuilding the marriage can now start.
“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
We want painless. We want easy. But anything worthwhile always requires effort.
2. Be honest with your spouse about even the little things.
- It’s important the unfaithful spouse is honest about any contact the affair partner has attempted to make,
or anything that reestablished contact. However difficult, the betrayed spouse needs to know.
- Be committed to total honesty with one another about struggles, feelings and triggers.
Value honesty in each other by creating an environment that does not make the other person fearful of the telling the truth.
- Remember, every lie or elusive behavior, sets trust back again.
It only takes one stupid decision, or one act of betrayal to lose trust, but it can take years to bring it back. So, don’t rush this step.
You, as unfaithful spouse, need to be humble and willing to do whatever is necessary to bring back your spouses trust, if your marriage is going to be restored.
Since honesty and trust go hand in hand, this leads to the subject of trust:
Trust is the belief that our spouse will be honest with us, it’s knowing that what they say and do is truly happening.
Trusting our spouse means knowing they will protect our feelings from harm.
- Be patient with your betrayed spouse as they will go through many highs and lows in their emotions.
- Remember, if you were the unfaithful spouse, you broke that trust and it takes consistent honesty
and accountability to restore their trust again.
- Also remember that your spouse most likely WANTS to trust you again, but it’s not a quick process.
It has to be earned through your consistent actions of doing the right thing, everyday. Words don’t mean too much right now, but actions do.
For both spouses to remember:
4. Protection of each other, and of your marriage.
- Protect each other, and your marriage, as if it were a small child trying to grow up strong again or a baby bird that was injured and needs healing.
- As the unfaithful spouse, you will need grace and empathy as the betrayed spouse needs to know you care about their pain and grief.
Don’t try to rush them through their grief, however guilty you might feel seeing them grieve.
You are the person who holds the keys to their healing right now, and empathy will unlock that healing like nothing else.
- You can read more here of the role God had in restoring me personally and our marriage.
5. Go back to your first love with your spouse.
Be determined to do the hard work, and to not give up on your marriage, during this process.
- Take this time to date your spouse again. Time is going to pass anyway, trust will return quicker when you meet your spouses needs again.
Love takes time to grow and develop and rebuilding love in a marriage after an affair also takes time to grow again.
- Remember those things you did when you were trying to capture your partners love in the early months of your relationship?
How quickly we forget to continue doing those things, which is a big reason our connection slips away.
Go back to the basics and find little ways to rekindle that first love with your spouse.
Knowing how to rebuild your marriage is not a quick and straight road. Be patient with each other in the process. You’ll both have good days and bad days.
- Stick to your commitment of ending the affair to rebuild your marriage.
- Remember to be honest with your spouse about any contact that was made with affair partner.
- Trust takes time and energy. Time spent with each other is the lifeblood of a marriage. Don’t give your most precious time away and let your spouse have the crumb.
- Protect your marriage like you would a fragile, injured bird or a small child needing your attention.
- Rekindle that first love with your spouse. Make each other a priority and take time for dates and giving your spouse your undivided attention.
I truly believe when we are honest and take the time to restore our spouses trust, we can have a fully restored and happy marriage again. It’s worth all the effort.
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