Cheating on a spouse strikes at the very heart of a marriage. If this relationship is all about mutual trust and love, having an affair seems to be the surest way to destroy it. And yet an affair need not signify the end of a marriage. With love, hard work and lots of patience you can save your marriage even if your partner is having an affair.
TIP: Read the guide to prevent a break up or get back with your ex.
Look at proof
Lipstick on the collar or a phone number on a paper napkin from a diner does not really constitute evidence of an affair. So until you have done your homework, don’t jump to conclusions and start pointing fingers at your spouse. That way you will not only put him/her on his guard if guilty but worse destroying trust if your partner is innocent. Also few things are more irritating or more damaging than a spouse who is constantly questioning their partner’s faithfulness. While certain signs like excessive secrecy, long hours away from home and significant changes in work habits could indicate an affair, don’t confuse signs with proof. Instead gather the facts which underline unusual behavior and then see if they reveal a pattern. Among hard evidence that you can look for are credit card receipts of gifts that have not been bought for your family, restaurant dinners that you have not eaten, phone calls at unusual hours, strange numbers on the cell phone bill and the like. The more red flags you find among your spouse’s possessions and papers, the more proof you have of something being off in your marriage.
Encourage your spouse to come clean
Very often married couples believe that flings are merely temporary matters and if a song and dance is not made about it, such issues may be forgotten with the passage of time. What they forget is that though a fling may be momentary, its effects on a marriage can be lasting. Mutual trust is the bedrock of any marriage and an affair strikes at that very foundation making it weak and hollow from within. So if you wish to save your marriage, the only way to begin is reaffirm your faith and trust in each other but for this the deceiver needs to come clean. If your partner has not yet admitted to his/her affair, ask him/her about it. Here it is extremely important not to question his/her behavior however but question the facts. If there are a pile of credit card receipts for dinners you have never eaten, ask your spouse about it. Or point out to an unfamiliar cell phone number and ask why there were so many calls from it at all odd hours. Specific questions about facts are more likely to elicit an honest answer from your partner rather than pointing finger at his/her integrity.
Even if your partner is innocent, the talk will do you good since it will help you air out your own anxieties, see where they are coming from and how you can prevent them from ruining your relationship.
Practice effective communication
However if your partner admits to having an affair, you will need to decide what you wish to do – you can either leave the marriage or try to save it. In case it is the latter, realize that it will be a long and uneven road to reconciliation but things can definitely work out if you both are committed to save the marriage. For this first of all you need to develop effective communication strategies. A situation where communication breaks down between a couple is ripe for an affair since the partners are unable to make their needs and feelings known to each other. From this, loneliness and dejection result which is only a step away from an affair. Once you are able to communicate what you need from your partner and what you are willing to give to the marriage, you are better able to understand, accept and love each other.
Consider why it happened
Even as you take active steps to repair your marriage from the ravages of an affair, ask yourself why it happened. Is it because you have been too busy with the kids lately and have not been able to spend time with your husband? Or is it because your wife has been attracted to an intelligent and vibrant personality? Sometimes an affair can be the result of a midlife crisis when a person needs reassurance from a third person. Going over the reasons of the affair will tell you which areas in your marriage need to be nurtured. For instance, if you find that your husband has been seeing too much of a co-worker after the birth of your second child, try to be more of a wife to him. Let somebody else take over some of the childcare responsibilities and spruce up yourself for him. Alternately, show him what a delightful life the two of you have created and draw him gently into your family circle.
Revive intimacy with your partner
Marital intimacy is one of the first areas to suffer when spouses lose interest in the marriage and in each other. Months or even years of indifference and fights sully the feelings of sexual attraction that spouses initially had for one another with the result that one of them looks to fulfill sexual needs outside marriage. When you are trying to repair your marriage after an affair, try to invoke that special bond you had with each other. If thoughts of making love to the person who cheated on you seem difficult, try to come close to your partner in a non-sexual way at first – like enjoying a quiet, candle-lit dinner together or giving him/her a relaxing back massage. Once you are comfortable being physically close to one another again, you can take the intimacy a step further, guided by your mutual desires.
Very often it takes a neutral third party to see things clearly. A counselor will help your partner take concrete and effective steps to leave the affair behind and encourage him/her to discuss and overcome the unhappiness which led to the affair in the first place. Most importantly however, marital counseling together with a certain period of marital therapy will help the two of you to find a way out of this crisis and seek reconciliation. Often the emotional scars from a bitter marriage are so deep that they need a trained and impartial hand to put things in the proper perspective and offer the first healing touch. Even if you cannot convince your spouse to see a therapist, go on your own. The effect of the counseling will without doubt soothe your own wounds and later even your spouse may feel ready enough to accompany you.