Infidelity happens. According to the Kinsey Institute, around 25 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women commit adultery during their marriages. Nearly 25 to 50 per cent of divorces involve adultery. Divorce need not be the first resort after a spouse's infidelity. Making a marriage work after an affair is a difficult and painful task. Both partners must commit to the task of rebuilding the marriage. Repairing your marriage can result in a deeper, more meaningful relationship for both you and your spouse. You can work with your partner to renew the love and trust that you had in the beginning.
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Protect your health. See your doctor for sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing. STDs can be transmitted even with condom use. Adultery exposes you to life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS and Hepatitis C. No matter what assurances your spouse offers, insist on testing for both of you.
Demand that the extramarital relationship end immediately. In order to make a marriage work after a spouse commits adultery, all contact with the other party should cease. Work affairs pose a special problem, as contact may be unavoidable. Look at your finances and if at all possible, the cheating spouse should seek a job with a different company. If children have been or will be born as a result of the affair, try to get a neutral party to communicate with the other party on matters concerning the child, such as visitation arrangements, while you and your spouse work through your issues.
Expect total honesty from your spouse. Your spouse should truthfully provide any details you request about the affair. Use caution when asking for details -- what you hear will be hurtful. Your spouse should accept total responsibility for the affair and show remorse for the harm caused to you.
Rebuild trust. Set up a transparent system of accountability so you can learn to have faith in your spouse again. Your spouse should share online passwords to e-mail accounts and social networking sites. You should have access to all text messages and calling history on your spouse's cell phone. The two of you need to come to an agreement on how often your spouse will check in when away from you. Set rules on opposite sex contacts -- maybe you would be comfortable with your spouse having lunch with someone but not drinks. In order to make your marriage work, your spouse should agree to transparency for as long as it takes for you to regain the trust in your relationship.
Seek marriage counselling. Making your marriage work after adultery means working through painful feelings and examining marital issues. Many couples need to learn new ways to communicate. Professional guidance makes this process easier and provides a safe venue for both parties to express their emotions and fears.
Forgive your spouse. Allow yourself plenty of time for this step. The possibility of forgiving your cheating spouse will be difficult to conceive when the affair is first revealed but becomes easier with time. Holding resentment will only poison your efforts to make your marriage work.
Recommit to your relationship. Use the tools you learnt in marriage counselling to map a new future with your spouse. If you wish, renew your wedding vows. Making your marriage work after adultery means much hard work but results in the reward of growing old with the spouse that you love.
Tips and warnings
- Go easy on yourself. Making a marriage work after a spouse commits adultery is not a steady process. You will have good days and bad days. Remember that no one can be completely available at all times. If in general your spouse is working hard to rebuild your trust, overlook the occasional times when he is unable to check in.
- If you find yourself feeling suicidal or unable to function normally, contact your health care provider immediately. Be careful about confiding in family and friends about your spouse' adultery. Your pain may cause them to resent your spouse and interfere with their future relationship.
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