If your spouse has cheated on you and you have separated as a result, making the decision to take him back is a challenging one. You might wrestle with the fear that he will cheat again, or perhaps you wonder if your relationship will be able to survive. You may be unsure of how to act around him after you have taken a break from the relationship. The initial discovery of an affair leads to a litany of feelings including rage, shock, betrayal, shame and guilt, according to the Mayo Clinic. After the initial wave of intense feelings has simmered down, it is important to be objective about your relationship as a step toward forgiveness after infidelity.
1. Take Your Time
Take your time when deciding how the two of you will proceed in your relationship. Rash decisions are not wise during such painful times, so wait to discuss deeper issues of the affair until you have started the healing process, according to the Mayo Clinic. Once you sense that you have made progress and are ready to communicate with your spouse, you can figure out what led to the affair and how your relationship will be changed, and challenged, as a result.
2. Find the Root Cause
Figuring out why your spouse cheated on you may not seem like an easy or enjoyable task, but it will open up the lines of communication between the two of you and help the future of your relationship. Too many couples miss each other and get back together too soon without resolving the fundamental issues that led to separation in the first place, according to Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of doctorbecky.com. Perhaps your spouse felt that her emotional needs were not being met or that you were not spending enough time with her while a man at work was consistently complimenting her. Recognizing the issues that led to the infidelity and fixing them may prevent future relationship issues.
3. Negotiate New Boundaries
Negotiate new boundaries for your relationship that will help prevent cheating and will lower the chance of you two having to separate again. Both you and your spouse should come up with a solid plan for marital recovery, states Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D., and author of "His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage." He explains that the plan should not be one-sided, but that both you and your spouse should be equally responsible. Perhaps you can both decide that your spouse should arrive home from work at a specific time, and that if he is going to be late, he will give you a call so that you know he is not spending time with another woman. Little things like this will make a big difference in your relationship and they will give you both peace of mind.
4. Get Outside Support
Getting help from others is essential as you learn how to accept your spouse again and forgive her for her infidelity. The "Mental Health America" website reports that you should not go through this adjustment period alone, but instead, seek the support of family and friends or even a support group. Isolating yourself will reduce your concentration, raise your stress levels and negatively impact your overall health. Surround yourself with people who care about your well-being and want to see your marriage succeed.
- Surviving an Affair; Willard F. Jr. Harley, Jennifer Harley Chalmers
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