After an affair, you may begin to question many areas of your life. It’s not uncommon to feel extreme anger, sadness, jealously, and uncertainty. When a spouse cheats, it can cause an intense breakdown of trust that can result in a lot of damage. You may ask if the damage is worth it if there is any healing after an affair, how you can forgive him or her, if trust can ever be restored, or if you should walk away completely. Two things are certain: healing is a slow process after infidelity, and it’s a different process for everyone. Healing can absolutely happen, but it will take time and effort from both parties.
How to Heal After an Affair
The first step to forgiveness is space, grace, and communication. Forgiving your spouse will take time, and it won’t be easy, but there are a few strategies you can use to forgive your spouse and move forward:
- Take time to grieve – Allowing yourself space to think and grieve is essential to being able to move forward into forgiveness.
- Have a support system – After an affair, giving space may not be easy for one or both partners, but it’s necessary. Having a support system in place can help make the process easier. Whether it’s a therapist, friend, sibling, or parent, or even just someone to help keep you active and out of your head, having someone to help you through this difficult time is essential.
- Open up communication – If you want to heal and forgive, communication is a must. Understanding the facts of the affair can help get rid of questions and pave the way to getting back to trust. Letting your partner know that you are all in if he or she is all in as well is essential to communication post-affair.
- Let go of the past – Building back trust means letting go of the past. Once you’ve decided to forgive and move on, don’t hold the affair over your partner’s head; this will only create more friction. Once you accept that you’ll work to forgiveness and mending your relationship, it’s vital that you leave the past in the past.
- Consult a therapist – This process is long and difficult. During it, many emotions will come up, triggered by different moments. Surviving the affair may mean needing more than friends and family on your side. While having the support of the people who are closest to you is wonderful and fortunate, having a professional, unbiased party can make a huge difference. Having a therapist to help guide you and your partner through the post-affair emotion is a good idea. A couple’s therapist will help you both understand your emotions so that you can work through and overcome them. A therapist can help you understand how to recover after an affair in a way that’s best for you and your partner by providing the support and tools you both need to do so.
How to Bring Back Intimacy in a Marriage
Working through the emotion that comes up after infidelity is vastly difficult. Both the impact of that emotion and the affair itself can weigh heavily on intimacy in a marriage. It’s a catch-22 because, for many couples, intimacy is the backbone of a working marriage.
How important is physical intimacy in a relationship? When intimacy is nonexistent, other problems besides the affair can arise, trust dwindles, and resentment builds for both partners. Bringing back intimacy is a significant step in becoming whole again, trusting your partner, and remembering why you fell in love in the first place. While this is so, the desire to be vulnerable and close to your partner in this way post-affair is extremely challenging. Even so, there are steps you can take to renew the love that once was.
Here are a few tips on the initial phases of how to fix intimacy problems in a marriage:
- Stay connected to your spouse – Children, work, technology, everyday life, and post-affair resentment can all keep us from truly connecting with our loved ones. Taking the time to be with your partner in meaningful ways can reignite your relationship in many wonderful areas. Go on a date, take the time to talk at dinner, engage in your spouse’s favorite activities, ask about his or her day, go on a couple’s retreat. Making time for these little things can be game-changers.
- Remember what drew you together in the first place – Rekindling the flame is often connected to rekindling old memories. Walking down memory lane with your partner can help both of you remember the initial thoughts and emotions that led you to love in the first place.
- Don’t expect too much from yourself or your partner – Rebuilding a relationship after an affair is a laborious job that takes time and special attention. Reignited intimacy isn’t going to happen overnight, and that’s ok. Give yourself and your partner time to come back to intimacy.
- Trust is the magic key – After you’ve forgiven your spouse, work on rebuilding the trust between you. Trust and intimacy go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other.
Consider Marriage Counseling After an Affair
Affairs can be devastating, and getting back to love and intimacy is a road not easily traveled. Consulting a professional marriage counselor to help you on the journey to forgiveness and trust is a great step towards rebuilding your marriage. Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center exists to help you come to reconciliation and build a stronger marriage for it. To set up an appointment, give us a call at (501) 222-3463, or fill out our online contact form, and we’ll reach out to you. We’re ready to help you and your family today.