When Hun and I got married, the officiating pastor advised us to print out our wedding vows and hang them somewhere where we would often see them. A constant reminder of the promises we made to one another. “What an excellent idea!”, we thought. Let us just say, almost four years down the line, we are yet to do it. I am just wondering how much heart ache we would probably have spared each other if indeed we had those vows right there on the nightstand, written in calligraphy on a beautiful piece of paper, perhaps even framed. Right there in our faces whenever we woke up and as we go to bed. Perhaps then I would be more mindful of my his needs, perhaps less selfish and more selfless. Unfortunately, life happens and we tend to forget the solemn vows we made to our spouses. The vows actually become the least remembered part of the wedding as time goes by, and this reality is reflected in how we treat each other in marriage, and as a result issues such as unfaithfulness crop up.
Infidelity in marriage is unfortunately quite rampant yet many couples find themselves ill equipped to handle the situation when an affair gets exposed. To make matters worse, infidelity carries with it a level of stigma making couples shy to seek help. The offended spouse feels ashamed and feels inadequate and the unfaithful partner is also ashamed of having caused their partner so much pain as well as being viewed as morally bankrupt. In dealing with infidelity couples will usually go one of two routes, part ways or sweep the matter under the rug.
Both of those ways while they might be easier to follow through with in the short run, they have obvious undesirable consequences in the long run. For a couple willing to put in hard work to restore their relationship, there is indeed a third option that involves fighting for the marriage together. Statistics show that couples who are indeed able to recover from an infidelity situation become even more intimate than before the affair. A couple must confront the issues while at the same time protecting their relationship, they must learn to ask for and give grace. It requires that both partners make intentional effort to restore the relationship.
The unfaithful partner needs to give space to the offended spouse to express her feelings. One of the things that an offended partner struggles with is the feeling that their spouse would never ‘understand’ the pain they caused them. Thus the unfaithful spouse should be ready to patiently listen whenever their partner talks about how they are feeling. They should also be willing to show remorse and apologize time and again, for hurting their partner.
The unfaithful partner should disclose, depart and demonstrate. They should be willing to disclose everything that their partner needs to know about the affair, and any other such cases. Trust can only be built in an environment of total openness. Following total disclosure, they would need to depart from the philandering ways and be willing to demonstrate the same. They would need to take measures to communicate their effort to earn trust back. Some of these actions include completely severing links with the person they cheated with. They must starve that emotional and/ or sexual bond. Additionally, they must be willing to be regularly ‘policed’ by their spouse, for example giving periodic updates on their whereabouts or their spouse might demand de-activation from certain social media platforms, access to phone calls log etc. This normally helps with accountability. Initially, these actions might seem drastic and repressive but as the trust is restored then the relationship normalizes, and the offended partner usually relaxes the ‘rules’.
On the other hand, the offended partner needs to choose to forgive. Forgiveness is crucial in moving past infidelity. Now, forgiveness does not mean that you are condoning the offense. Neither does it mean exonerating the offender from certain consequences of cheating. It means that even though you still hurt, you decide not to wallow in the hurt and make a conscious effort to move past it; that you are willing to separate a person from what they did; that you refuse to let the situation define you.
The offended spouse also needs to look inwards. This is usually a difficult idea to fathom for someone who has been cheated on. It is true that there is never a good enough excuse for a spouse to stray. The vows we say are not conditional. That said, it is always important for the offended spouse to explore any way they may have been a stumbling block and contributed to the situation. Emotional or sexual unavailability are examples of ways that we can frustrate our spouses and push them right into the arms, or worse, the bed of another. Therefore, as difficult as this may be, the offended partner needs evaluate or find out from the unfaithful partner, what they can do different to protect their marriage.
In order to restore intimacy, each partner needs to make the other feel safe and cherished. They need to be intentional in mending the emotional gap between them by spending time together doing fun activities that they enjoyed doing early on in their relationships or even develop new hobbies. The couple must also work on their spiritual intimacy. This really helps in healing and restoration. The great news is that healing can and does happen and that many relationships have been restored to full intimacy after a betrayal.
PS: This Article was originally posted on Arusi Guru Blog Page