People often contact me after they have learned that their spouse has cheated or had an affair. Many want to save their marriages but they have their doubts that this is actually possible. Often, they will ask me for “signs” or “signals” that their marriage is one that is able to be saved. I often believe that, if both parties are willing do the hard work needed, most marriages can be saved following infidelity. However, some marriages have an easier time than others. So, in the following article, I’ll offer what I feel are some signs that a marriage is on it’s way to being one that can be saved.
Sign Number One Of A Marriage That Can Be Saved: The Cheating Spouse Is Genuinely And Sincerely Sorry For Their Actions (And They Express This Remorse Regularly): Probably the biggest concern that I hear from spouses who were cheated on is that they don’t believe that their husband or wife is sincerely sorry for their actions. I often hear phrases like “Yes, he’s sorry. But he’s sorry that he got caught, not that he cheated.”
If you are the unfaithful spouse, you will be doing yourself a huge favor if you are honest about your remorse. I now that it’s tempting to “save face” and to be distant or secretive about your guilt and sorrow, but doing so is usually going to be a huge mistake. In order for your spouse to even want to save the marriage, they are going to need to believe that you realize how much you hurt them and are genuinely sorry for this. And, they can usually tell the difference between fake crocodile tears and those that are genuine.
If you are the spouse who was cheated on, there is nothing wrong with telling your spouse how important their remorse is to you. As I alluded to, you can typically tell the difference between a spouse who is acting to get a result and one who is genuinely sorry. Most unfaithful spouses will be deeply wounded when they see the hurt and pain on their spouse’s face. Simply put, they hurt because you hurt and they know that they are responsible for this.
Once you get to a place where you’re no longer in shock and are reeling, you can usually genuinely see this remorse. You’ll notice their pained expressions when they think you aren’t looking. You’ll see the toll that this has taken on their face. You’ll see a change in their body language. If you aren’t seeing these things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are never going to come. Some people will try to hide this because they are embarrassed and ashamed. It’s often only when you clearly tell them that you need to see this to move on does it begin to come out.
Sign Number Two Of A Salvageable Marriage: The Cheating Spouse Begins Doing What Needs To Be Done To Make This Right: People who have remorse about their actions will generally take full responsibility for them and will realize that fixing this lies on their shoulders. It’s usually a good sign when the cheating spouse immediately ceases all contact with the other person and takes responsibility for coming up with a plan to rehabilitate the marriage. Granted, their plan may not always work seamlessly because their spouse is not yet receptive to them, but this doesn’t stop them from trying their very best to right this wrong.
Sign Number Three: Both Spouses Are Trying Their Best To Believe That The Marriage Can Be Rehabilitated And Will Eventually Be Healthy Again: This is a very big issue. Often, I see both spouses sort of limping along as though they are walking to the gallows. They worry that things will never be the same again and that they have nothing to look forward to. They suspect that life as they know it will never be right again. And, these thoughts can very well become a self fulfilling prophecy.
For this process to really be successful, both people need to be at least open to the idea that the marriage can be saved and can even be better than it was before (even if they don’t entirely believe this yet.) You really do need to feel that you have something to look forward to and are striving for. Honestly, once you can get to a place where you are happy and fulfilled again, you aren’t as likely to look back and to dwell on the past. There is a real danger of allowing the affair or the cheating to follow you around and to challenge the happiness that should be yours in the future. This is something that must be overcome if the marriage can truly be saved. You have to be able to embrace and believe that you can and will genuinely be happy again.
Sign Number Four: Both People Are Willing And Open To Work On Themselves As A Couple And As Individuals: Few marriages thrive after an affair without some sort of help. This may come in the form of counseling, educating yourself, and / or working together as a couple. However, if you’re not able or willing to work out the issues that lead up to or came from the cheating, then these issues may continue to thwart your relationship. Often, working through these things will actually strengthen the marriage and result in a more happy life together so that at least some good came out of something negative.
Finally, it can really help if each person is willing to do some self work. The spouse who cheated will usually need to figure out the characteristics within them that lead to their inability to remain faithful. (Cheating is often the result of something that is wrong with the cheater, not with the cheater’s spouse or their marriage.)
The spouse who was cheated on will often greatly benefit from working on restoring their self esteem and self confidence. It can be next to impossible to believe that your spouse is still invested in you and in the marriage when you are having difficulty investing in yourself.
Surviving The Affair is a blog I put together to share a personal story. I know that this is a very difficult time, and that forgiveness can be elusive, but working through it can truly be worth the effort. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Our bond and intimacy is much stronger and because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can check it out at http://surviving-the-affair.com/.
Katie Lersch writes articles about moving past an affair.Â Her corresponding blog is at http://surviving-the-affair.com/