If both parties decide to try and save a marriage troubled by an episode of infidelity, the next phase is often the most difficult. To begin with, it requires an understanding of the motivations underlying the affair. Both partners must then take a look inside and determine their own parts in creating the faulty dynamic in the relationship. They must then take concrete steps to change those factors that led the unfaithful partner to cheat.
Research shows that married people are physically healthier than their single counterparts. People who stay married live, on average, four years longer than the unmarried.
In addition to identifying the motivations underlying the affair, it may be essential to the one who stayed behind to have the one who strayed candidly discuss the details of what happened. Again, most cheating spouses attempt to hide the details of the affair, thinking that telling the truth will only lead to more problems. Actually, concealing the details of the affair can lead to lingering questions, which, if not addressed, may not go away on their own. If questions linger, it can be difficult for the hurt spouse not to continue dwelling on the affair. This is another individual decision. The request for more details about the affair should come from the spouse who is having trouble trusting the partner who had the affair.
Forgiving the Unforgivable
It would be hard to define a single more important key to finding happiness in marriage than forgiveness. Forgiveness is the art of letting your mind rest around issues that are troubling to you. When the mind is engaged with the tension about wrongs and hurts you have suffered in the past, your mind is in torment. Thus, the ability to rest your thoughts about past hurts gives you inner peace and mental rest.
However, this begs the question of how do you learn to forgive? How do you stop fearing the future? When you hurt another person, guilt is the dominant emotion. When you believe others have hurt or wounded you, anger is the usual response. Either way, your mind is unsettled and troubled. Forgiveness rests the mind and settles the past, allowing you to live in the present moment without the pain and the torment of those past hurts, and without fear of the future.
How can I survive my partner's infidelity?
Not by sitting on your anger or trying to forget what happened. A positive outcome after the pain of infidelity requires an unbreakable commitment between the two of you to work through the issues that created the crack in your relationship.
The Mechanics of Forgiveness
Many people successfully use rituals to learn how to forgive. Some seek the use of confession. Others talk in therapy. Some write letters to people who have hurt them in the past, expressing all their feelings, and then never send the letter. This way, they can unburden their feelings about the past without involving all the people who have made up that past. Another ritual might be to dig a hole in the earth and shout your hurts into that hole, at the same time releasing the pain of that hurt. Then you can cover the hole, and send the hurt away. Such rituals are physical tasks to help you grasp the emotional aspect within the act of forgiveness.
Words matter. To better communicate your needs and feelings without making your partner feel defensive, start statements with “I” and choose feeling words. I feel. I need. I'm sorry. I appreciate.
Forgiveness is letting your mind release the emotional turmoil that you are holding onto, but the real key to understanding forgiveness is to recognize that you as a human have no ability to forgive anyone but yourself. Your forgiving another is not about them at all, it is entirely about you and your mental process. You let go of the tension you hold in your mind about that person. You let go the inner turmoil you feel, and thus you allow yourself to experience emotional rest and mental peace. You don't even need for them to ask forgiveness, or to apologize — although in the case of infidelity, sincere apologies do make a difference.
To forgive is to bless yourself. To forgive is to grant yourself freedom. To forgive is to give yourself the gift of happiness, because when you release the inner tension, you release your mind from the torment you have been carrying by not forgiving yourself or another. To forgive another does not require that they apologize or repent. To forgive is to release the inner tension you carry when you hold hatred within your heart for those who have wronged you. Forgiveness is moving on. In a marriage healing from infidelity, it is also the key to allowing the marriage to move on, too.