Tag Archives: affair

Affair Repair: Turn Walls into Windows

Every now and then I see something new.

Right now I’m working with a couple that is coping with the fallout from an affair, but they’re handling it very differently than your typical couple.

The story started like many I’ve seen before. He had an affair.

She found out. The marriage is in trouble.  I see that frequently.

What’s different about this couple is how they are handling the situation after the affair. She wants him back. He wants to come back. There’s still hurt, anger and trust issues like with any affair. But instead of the couple putting up walls, they’re staying calm and working through the issues together. Instead of lashing out in their pain, they are able to express themselves without tearing the other one down.  It’s refreshing to see.  Both people are handling a lot of strong emotions without damaging each other further in the process.  They are making my job so much easier!

I really like this couple. But I have to say, they’re not normal!

He’s owning his stuff, and not minimizing or denying it. For her part, she’s taking him back and truly welcoming him with open arms even though he hurt her.

They’re really fighting for their marriage and not putting up walls that slow down the healing process.

We can learn from this couple.

 After an affair, there’s often anger, hurt and confusion on the part of the injured spouse.  And this is normal.

“I can’t believe you would do that to me.”

“I thought I knew who you were. I thought I knew our marriage.”

“What else is a lie? Did you ever really love me?”

Life isn’t so hot for the spouse involved in the affair, either. This person often feels embarrassed, conflicted, not heard, and like his/her world is unraveling.   The betrayer often carries around a lot of shame and guilt that makes it hard for him/her to be appropriately involved in helping their spouse heal.

So it isn’t really surprising that when a couple comes in for help after an affair, there typically are emotional walls that keep the couple from reconnecting and healing.

Walls after an affair are normal. Your partner just broke your trust and cheated on you. There should be some walls after an affair!

But before we can repair the marriage, we need to turn those walls into windows. That’s why a therapist is so important. Identifying and slowly dismantling these walls is not easy! Especially when both partners are hurting.

The injured spouse puts up walls because they are hurt and trying to cope with their world being turned upside down.

Life after an affair is an emotional rollercoaster for the spouse who has been cheated on. There are feelings of betrayal, despair, hopelessness, fear, anger and bargaining. Emotions often change by the hour.

Infidelity is profoundly traumatic!

So an injured spouse puts up emotional walls for protection. The betraying partner has to work hard at making his/her spouse feel safe and loved in the relationship again.  This hard work often looks like a bottomless well of patience.  Yes, the one who was cheated on needs to talk about the affair again and again.  Yes, the betrayed spouse has more questions they need answers to.

The partner who committed the affair also puts up walls, often centered around embarrassment and shame.

The spouse who cheated wants secrecy around this entire thing, and they don’t want to talk or think about it.

They are used to isolating the affair and compartmentalizing it, being secretive, and on some level, most are also are ashamed and remorseful.

I mean, how awful is it to tell the person who loves you and whom on some level you love that you broke their trust? That you snuck out of the house? That you lied about where you were going? That you spent money you weren’t supposed to spend on being with someone else? That you shared your body and your intimacy with someone else?

This is painful stuff!

So the spouse who cheated also creates walls in the marriage because they don’t want to talk about it and relive that pain.

Breaking down these walls takes time and care.

The walls are there because neither spouse wants further trauma.

What I do when I work with a couple who has gone through an affair is set up guidelines and a process for disclosure. That’s the first step and one reason that a therapist is so important.

There needs to be a process with guidelines so disclosure unfolds carefully, accurately and completely so nobody gets completely worn out or re-traumatized.

We have the injured partner ask all the questions and write them down. Then we go through the questions one by one.

This is not a quick process, though!

Marriages don’t heal fast after an affair. It can take years. In fact, some research says it takes 3 to 5 years.

Your emotions are going to be upside down and all over the place. You’re going to have moments where you can’t stand the pain you’re in. And moments where you can’t stand the thought of losing the other person.

It is okay to have walls after an affair. It is okay to feel like your world is going to end. To survive this you both agree not to act on these feelings.  Give yourself time to metabolize what has happened.

You’re going to take it slow. You’re going to ride out the tsunami.

An affair is like a fox that got into the hen house. First, you clean up the mess, then you find out where the fox got through the fence and you fortify it.

So you fix the breakdown in communication and clean up the mess. You slowly turn those walls into windows. Then you repair the hole in your marriage that left a vulnerable place for the fox to come in.

That’s where we can learn from the couple I mentioned before.

When he cheated on her, she lost trust and felt hurt. But she didn’t give up on her marriage. Neither did he, even though he knew he had made a big mess of the relationship.

It still has been hard for them, and picking up the pieces has taken time. But they didn’t walk away, and this has made the recovery process much easier. The walls they put up were less formidable, and they’re coming down faster.

If your marriage is going through an affair, seek help. Overcoming an affair is one of the hardest things you’ll do. You need help with this process.

Call or go online to schedule an appointment with us, and we’ll help you turn your walls into windows and rebuild your marriage after infidelity.  Remember, we work with clients all over the world!  You don’t have to live in Texas to work with us.

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Affair Repair: Where to Start

Affair Repair: Where to Start

One of the most devastating moments in any relationship is when there has been an affair. I don’t think I can overstate enough how profoundly traumatic it is to have that kind of betrayal in a close, intimate relationship.

There are feelings of hopelessness and despair.

I don’t know what to do. I’m damned if I stay, I’m damned if I go.

How can I possibly fix this? I can’t possibly save my marriage after this massive breach of trust.

There’s emotional exhaustion.

Every day is an emotional storm. Sometimes I feel like we’ve never been closer, and other times I feel like I’m sleeping with the enemy.

There’s doubt.

Will I ever be able to stop visualizing my partner with someone else? Can I ever feel special again? How will I ever forgive them?

You’re going to have all kinds of feelings and emotions. It is a roller coaster every day. For a long time.

So the first step in recovering from an affair is giving you permission to be where you are at this moment.

It is okay that you’re not sure if you want to work on the marriage. It is okay that you’re not sure if you’ll ever trust again. Let it be okay that you don’t know what you are thinking and feeling.

Early Decisions are Not Set in Stone

Feeling these strong emotions after an affair is normal. You’re just not going to act on them.

You need time to grieve for the loss of the marriage you thought you had, assess the damage, figure out how you feel about it. Then you need some time to heal and pull yourself together.

Only after all that can you decide if your marriage is something worth fixing. You don’t want to make permanent, life-altering decisions in an emotional state. You’re going to get in trouble almost every time when you do that.

So declare a moratorium on decision-making for at least six to twelve weeks after you discover the affair. This provides a period of safety where you can fully explore your thoughts and feelings.

How long you wait depends on your situation and how you respond.

I recently had a client whose wife was having multiple affairs for 15 years and practically prostituting herself out. Recovering from that probably will take more time.

But I had another client who went on a business trip and slept with someone while he was out of town. One time.

While both are traumatic, the recovery period could be completely different.

The key is waiting until you have your emotional state under control every day. However long that takes.

Ambivalence is Normal and Healthy

Another mistake I often see is clients who move through ambivalence too fast and give up.

Ambivalence is a part of the process when you’re depressed, and I can’t imagine a situation where there’s been an affair and you’re not depressed. Infidelity is tough stuff.

Let yourself be ambivalent and tune out while you process the emotions.

We call this “responsible distance taking.” Tell your partner you need some time away. You need some time to think about it and be ambivalent.

Just don’t ignore your partner and withdraw completely from the relationship. Your partner’s bad behavior is not a green light for yours. You can’t make them pay by staying in the marriage but not talking with them for six months, even if they hurt you.

That’s emotional abuse. That’s retribution. You don’t get that right.

Staying is Just Time to Heal

Tell yourself that staying doesn’t mean you condone your partner’s behavior. It doesn’t mean you are trapped forever in a bad relationship.

Staying just means you’re committed to the process of grieving and healing. You are committed to forging a new partnership.

Divorce Your Marriage—Not Your Spouse

We often tell people not to divorce your spouse, divorce your marriage and build a new one.

Is this relationship worth salvaging? And if not, is it worth trying to create one that is worth keeping?

Most affairs don’t end in divorce. Most affairs actually make it through and survive. The difference between a marriage that survives and one that doesn’t is the desire to save the relationship.

That’s the difference.

Is that something you’re interested in?

It may be hard to believe, but we find that if a couple is ready to partner together and change the dynamic of their marriage, they actually can have a better marriage after infidelity. An affair can be an opening for dealing with problems that have been festering in the marriage for a long time.

Get Ready for a Long Journey

Research shows that it takes between two and three years to recover from an affair.

This is not two or three sessions. This is two or three years.

That doesn’t mean you will be miserable all the time. But it does mean you will need to learn how to navigate the ebbs and flows that come as you grieve and rebuild. You will need to hold yourself responsible and accountable. You will need to learn how to forgive, how to partner again. You will need patience.

A partner having an affair is like a fox that got into the hen house. You have to clean up the mess, and then you have to find out where the fence needs fortifying.

Not every marriage with an affair is a bad marriage. An affair just means there is a gap somewhere.

Somebody let down their guard.

Somebody blinked

Something happened.

Repairing after an affair isn’t easy. But it is possible. And we can help.

We’re going to help you recover emotionally. Then we’re going to find out what happened, the dynamic that made the marriage vulnerable. And we’re going to help you fix it.

So if you find that you’re stuck in the grieving process, or the forgiving process or you just can’t close the gap, call or go online to schedule an appointment with us.

Most people need help to get through something like an affair…we, at The Marriage Place, are trained and equipped to help you recover and rebuild!

Affairs are tough stuff.

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