Marriage is based on the foundation of trust and an event such as affair shatters the very foundation of this institution. Moving on after an affair is easier said than done, yet I have tried to share a few thoughts on healing post affair.
Infidelity is the most unfortunate thing that could ever happen to a relationship. It neither destroys the relationship nor does it set the spouses free to move on with their lives. In case of a tragic event such as demise of a spouse or a divorce, the partners are at least clear about their future, which helps them to move on. However, infidelity dooms the relationship like no other event. While one partner forever burns in an inferno of betrayal, the cheating partner can rarely get over the feeling of remorse. None of the partners can live in peace until a decision about their respective future is made. Incidentally, spouses are not in a condition to look at this situation in a better light and often give in to their impulsive reactions. Unfortunately, the beautiful relationship that they built over years, which could have blossomed for several more years gets destroyed due to an affair which merely lasted for days. The question here is, is it worth to sacrifice such a meaningful relationship for an affair, which only stemmed from a weakness in character and not from something as sacred as love?
Is it Possible to Move on After an Affair?
Any relationship which has lasted the test of time will have its own ups and down. Surprisingly, extramarital affairs are such a common thing that about 60% of married men and 50% of married women commit to infidelity at some point of time during their lives. The real problem is, not many of such devastated relationships can survive an affair. Only 35% of such couples succeed in reconciliation and fewer than that establish healthy marital relationships. Why is infidelity such a difficult situation to face? You may find that moving on after a break up, even a nasty one for that matter, is far easier than coming to terms with a cheating spouse.
An unfaithful partner not only insults your love, but also reduces your self esteem to bits. The pain and hurt that a philandering spouse inflicts upon you is inexpressible. It is only natural to have resentment towards your cheating spouse. If you have been an unfaithful partner in this case, you will have lots of difficulty acknowledging your mistake. But, remember that by denying an affair and refusing to own your misdeed, you will only inflict more pain upon your spouse. Acknowledging your affair is the only way to make yourself worthy of your partner's compassion. Every relationship that is based on love must give itself one more chance to survive.
Healing After an Affair
Contrary to what you might think, your heart does not heal with time. If you do not make attempts to mend your heart, the pain will only worsen with time. You must give your relationship some time to grieve upon such an event. During this time, both the partners must carry out a serious introspection. This will help them identify the cause that led to an affair. Was it an outcome of dissatisfaction of cheating partner from marriage or it was just a case of weakness in character? A betrayed partner should try to analyze their own behavior and see if they themselves created such a situation for their partner that they had no option but to stray. While seeking solution outside a marriage is never justifiable, this realization will at least avoid similar situations in future. On the other hand, you may discover that your partner's escapades have nothing to do with you and that he would have cheated no matter what. The realization that it was not your fault will help you feel good about yourself.
Sexual involvement may often prevent a betrayed partner from forgiving an erring spouse. However, one must understand that very few people engage in extramarital affair for the mere thrill of sex. Sex is only an added benefit of having an affair. Most people seek emotional support outside their marriage. An affair satisfies their emotional needs of being loved, wanted and cared in a relationship. An emotional affair can be very disturbing and moving on after an emotional affair is even more challenging.
Rebuilding a Relationship
Reconciliation is a mutual effort. Unless and until both the partners willingly agree to rebuilding a relationship, all the attempts towards reconciliation will be thwarted. Remember, during reconciliation process, it is impossible to not have any prejudices against your partner. The betrayed partner will never forget that you cheated upon them. They cannot help but get suspicious about everything that you do. During this phase, it is imperative that you make efforts to re-establish the trust and faith. Give them no reason to get suspicious about your whereabouts or other activities. Be transparent about your past as well as current life.
If an affair involves illegitimate children, then the spouses must settle the matter before reconciling. Involvement of children implies that the erring spouse will have to commit to his duty as a co-parent to children. Thus, he can never truly sever the ties with the third person. Reconciliation can be initiated if both the parents agree to this.
When to Let Go?
Sometimes, it is better to let go of a relationship than cling to it and get hurt in return. Relationships based on abuse, lies, disrespect will never survive something as serious as an affair. Similarly, if the betraying partner is a serial philanderer, then there is no point to make him stay against his wish. Such people are prone to stray no matter what. Similarly, if you are only trying to reconcile for the sake of children, be assured that your children will be happier with one responsible parent rather than both parents who have no love for each other. You should also let go of your relationship if the affair is stronger than your marital vows.
Moving on after an affair is not easy and entirely depends upon the couple's willpower. You can either seek freedom and have a life of your own or stay in a relationship and suffer silently. However, if you succeed in reconciling, you may actually rebuild a beautiful relationship with your spouse and emerge out of the turmoil stronger and happier.