This is a question I have been asked many times as a relationship coach. I have worked with couples who decide to divorce after 20 years of marriage as well as couples who, during the coaching process, discover how to create the marriage they never had!
To move forward, couples need to consider the following after an affair….before they make the decision split or stay.
1. Understand what REALLY created the affair. Unmet emotional needs drive human behavior. For example, when a spouse does not feel like they matter to their partner, they search for significance elsewhere, such as through children, family, work or an affair. When both parties learn how to meet their own emotional needs more effectively as well as be supportive to their partner’s emotional needs, less desire to wander elsewhere occurs.
2. Consider how YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE both nurtured, poisoned or neglected the relationship. Just as a plant needs tending in order to grow, and can die from poison or neglect, so can a relationship. One partner may be poisoning the relationship with poor relationship habits, however, the other person who is shutting down or avoiding conflict is neglecting the relationship. Neglect kills plants just as much as poison! The good news is that poor relationship habits often have very little to do with the amount of love that is between the couple.
3. Decide to commit to doing the work! If you and your partner want to have a fulfilling marriage, get clear about what creates lasting change. Work with a coach to gain tools to have a different focus, a different meaning and a shift in your state of being so that you both “show up” differently in order to move forward. Just as time and attention to your career, coupled with effective work strategies, can produce success, relationships are no different. Just thinking positive or having good intentions do not produce lasting results!
4. Do what it takes to rebuild trust. Dr. John Gottman, the well-respected professor emeritus at the University of Washington, describes how building trust happens in the little moments between partners. For example, during conflict, couples can choose to turn toward their partner, instead of turning away, placing the relationship before self.
5. Forgive. (I know this one word can be taken to so many extremes and interpretations!) BOTH partners need to create a full understanding of what forgiveness REALLY encompasses AND then daily decide forgiveness of self and your partner. Blame only stifles progress toward having the marriage you want. Remember what you put out into the world will come back to you.
6. Decide what the affair means for your life. Do you choose to allow the affair to be devastation and you the victim? Or… was this affair a wake-up call for your marriage? Do you and your partner have the courage to face discomfort in order to have the marriage you both want with each other???
If you have any questions regarding the above information, or would like to create a passionately intimate marriage, feel free to contact Kim at email@example.com. Choose true fulfillment and amazing relationships!
Domestic violence and substance abuse need additional treatment before such considerations will be safe or effective.