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The Long, Long Road Back From Infidelity

By Beverly Stern
Oct. 26, 2004

Marriage is a commitment. It is a commitment one makes that takes constant work to uphold. Kinda like the commitment one makes to lose weight. You can say you will lose weight and then the struggle to change your eating habits and find time for exercise begins. Without work, one slips back into one's old and ugly habits and the commitment to lose weight falls apart.

So it is with the commitment of marriage. Over the life of a marriage, there may be "slips" that either partner makes when they engage in an affair (sexual or emotional). In fact, statistics place a 33% wager that a marriage will face adultery during its duration. What's almost important as the indiscretion and secrecy outside the marriage, is the road back from infidelity.

If the marriage is worth saving and there are children involved, counseling, communication and commitment (or should I say recomitment) are the three C's to putting the fragile relationship back on track. Let's talk about counseling first. Counseling after infidelity is harder than counseling before--even if the marriage was in trouble prior to the affair. There will be a lot of fingerpointing and the sessions could get ugly. They say that the cheated spouse deserves to have all their questions answered and some of the answers may not be pretty. But pretty painful they will surely be.

Nonetheless, IF the commitment is present by both partners to restore and rebuild the relationship, particularly trust, then counseling can be successful. The cheater needs foremost to understand that they have made a huge mistake by going outside of the marriage to resolve problems that occurred inside the marriage. They need to express remorse and recognize that for many years to come, the process of restoring trust will be an arduous task for him/her.

Communication in a post-affair marriage must be open like a book--leaving absolutely no room for questionable behaviors. The cheater must be strong enough to withstand interrogation by the spouse and not be annoyed or angered by it. What they reaped, they must now sow. The cheater will have to endure endless arguments whereby the affair is brought up in a conversation having absolutely nothing to do with it. Trust demands honesty and integrity. The spouse who was cheated upon will only be able to forgive over time and it is debatable as to whether one is ever able to forget.

So, now the important question is, "Is it worth all the trouble to save a marriage after an affair?" The answer to that lies within each partner for the work required to mend the relationship takes so much effort and work and doesn't come with any guaranty of success. One must keep in mind however that the grass isn't any greener to be single again. Second and third marriages have an even greater chance of divorce than the 50% rate of divorce for first marriages.

As if things weren't tough enough for marriage today, we have the internet. More ways for one to meet and hook up with another person. But, does it really matter how many ways there may be to cheat? The result is the same and the aftermath is the same. On the other side, the internet is an excellent source to recover from an affair. There are zillions of websites giving people information on the topic of adultery, infidelity, affairs, etc. Lots of words for the same outcome--pain, rejection and distrust.

If you are thinking of cheating on your spouse, think again. If you have cheated and don't think your spouse knows, think again. If you are dealing with the indiscretion of a mate, think about the long long road back to health. It can be done and the outcome can be a marriage filled with more intimacy and love than ever before or it can be a turmultuous battle fighting against an invisible enemy.

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About the author: Beverly Stern has a B.S. in Behavioral and Social Science and a M.S. in Clinical Community Counseling. She has been married 39 years--way more than half her life. Writing is her passion and one day hopes to write a book.

Email: bstern101@yahoo.com


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