After The Affair: 3 Surprising Rules NOT To Break
If you want a chance in hell to save your marriage.
Rarely is infidelity kept hush-hush.
Eventually the “other person” will want more than you’re willing to give and take revenge by alerting your spouse, your conscious will catch up and come clean, or you’ll slip up and get C-A-U-G-H-T.
The first thing that you have to do after the affair is revealed is hold on tight. The world that you worked so hard to build is about to come crashing down one aspect at a time.
The sheer amount of pain that debilitates your spouse is unbearable to witness. You swear repeatedly that you wouldn’t have made the choice to stray had you known this would happen.
When you see someone that you love shatter to the core, right before your eyes, it takes everything you have not to scream to the gods, “Please make it stop”.
Once the initial news sinks in, the questions start to surface. Details are endlessly demanded. And you know damn well that the information that your spouse is begging for will only destroy him or her more. So you try to skip some details to protect your spouse only to be blamed for keeping your loyalties to the “other person”.
You simply can’t win.
So here we are in this state of raw chaos, not knowing what in the hell to do in order to save your marriage.
3 Surprising Rules Not To Break
Rule #1: Don’t try and explain why you cheated.
Your spouse isn’t interested in hearing the truth yet.
Sure betrayed spouses ask “Why did you do it,” but they don’t want to hear, “Because you haven’t paid any attention to me in years,” or “Because the dogs get more love around here than me”.
They don’t want an actual answer they are simply trying to process the unthinkable out loud. What they really want is to have you hang your head in shame and keep apologizing. And keep apologizing.
The thing is, your spouse is in shock right now and has lost the ability to use the rational part of his or her brain. That means they can’t sit down and have a good old fashion heart-to-heart right now about how crappy your marriage was pre-adultery. Not going to happen (that comes later).
Rule #2: Don’t pressure your spouse for reassurance.
You’d give your left arm to know whether your spouse was leaning towards reconciliation or divorce.
And you can’t have the piece of mind of knowing yet. To be honest, your spouse has no clue what the future will bring, no clue. Those that have been betrayed will report struggling to get their shoes on, forgetting where they are going as they are driving in their car, or what they were talking about mid-sentence. So to ask them what they are thinking in terms of the marriage. That is viewed as insensitive and selfish by your spouse.
The ambiguity when everything else is falling away is enough to drive you into a panic. So much that you can lose the use of your rational brain and apply unhelpful pressure on your spouse. This is the worse thing you can do right now. It’s unfair and will ultimately back fire on you.
If you could talk with anyone that has pushed their spouse to give them a hint of reassurance, they would tell you to back the hell off ASAP. For two reasons, first it made the process last longer than necessary, and second it sent their marriage straight to divorce court.
Your spouse will see your begging as if you don’t care enough to protect him or her. They see it as, “I can barely breath right now because of what you did and you’re telling me that you need answers?”
I know that you want to show your spouse that you’ll do anything to make this right, but the greatest most powerful way to convince your spouse is to put his or her needs above your own and back off.
Rule #3: Don’t get angry or frustrated.
Since you’re now in a pressure cooker full of unknowns, intense anger outbursts, and unyielding questions, your fuse might be getting shorter by the hour.
Besides you’re still holding on to the key piece of information that will help explain the entire mess. The fact that the marriage would never be in this position had you two not taken your eyes off of each other. If you kept each other as your #1 priorities through job changes, kids, and material accumulation and maintenance, there wouldn’t have been an affair in the first place.
Yes, it is justifying your error in judgment, and it’s holds the truth as to why you were even vulnerable to cheat in the first place.
Nevertheless, compassion is the name of the game. Stay soft with your spouse for as long as it takes for them to work through the initial phase.
Once you two graduate into Phase II, you both will be at a much better place to claim responsibility for the breakdown for the marriage.
There You Have It
Sounds easy to do but executing the plan takes an enormous amount of patience and discipline. Simply continue to remind yourself that you would do anything to save your marriage and if this is what it takes, then you’ll do it.
Jessica M. Miller, M.A. is the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice. She owns a practice in New Prague, Minnesota where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two pups. For more relationship advice subscribe to her YouTube channel: Super Living. Follower her on Twitter where she regularly post about happiness, marriage tips, and personal identity.
Originally published at www.southmetrocounseling.com on March 16, 2016.