Betrayal, deceit, and unfaithfulness are just a few words to describe the harshness of an affair. Regardless if the infidelity was physical, emotional or online it is a betrayal of trust that violates what marriage promises: faithfulness in action, emotion and affection. If an affair is one of the leading causes of divorce is it even possible for a couple to recover from such treachery? In short, the answer is yes! However working through an affair is tough work and will take tremendous effort, energy, and vulnerability from both individuals. It’s a sensitive topic that will need to be preceded with caution, but in order to heal, talking cooperatively to one another is required. Infidelity swings a hefty punch at a marriage and even though it can be quite traumatic for the betrayed a full recovery is possible and can result in both sides having learned and grown. At the front of an affair coming to light it may seem impossible to overcome, and impossible to forgive but thankfully you don’t have to do it alone as scripture states, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with Good everything is possible” (Matt. 19:26).
How the betrayed can move forward to recovery
The initial reaction to a person who has been betrayed is often shock and rage. You begin to feel doubt and dismay and may ask yourself questions like: Why did this happen? Will I ever be able to trust my spouse again? Will my spouse cheat again? How will I ever forgive this? Is our marriage over? Even though it may seem hopeless there is still hope.
Learning that your spouse has been cheating on you can result in great emotional trauma, which can cause physical and emotional strain on your body. It can lead to difficulty in sleeping and eating, depression and the inability to carry out daily responsibilities, and/or resentment can take root resulting in anxiety and anger. Therefore when recovering from an affair you must take care of yourself by eating nutritiously, getting as much sleep as you can, exercising to relieve stress and by simply taking deep breaths throughout the day.
Emotionally, you must embrace the way that you feel because healing comes when you are able to get out your feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, rejection and disrespect by talking it out. Therefore seeking support from a counselor, pastor, or mentor is vital to your mental and emotional health. Having a good support system will help you have the confidence to have open and honest communication with your spouse without allowing unchecked venting and rage get the best of you.
Spiritually, you must cling to the source of strength, God. Seek His guidance, wisdom and truth by immersing yourself in His word. Allow space for God’s presence and peace to permeate your entire being and keep Him at the forefront of every decision you make. True forgiveness is a process and a journey, and really only comes from the help of God. Choosing to forgive doesn’t mean you forget all the pain you endured but it does show the state of your heart. Since God sent His son and forgave us we too must be willing to forgive others but remember it is a process and God will walk alongside you the entire way.
How the betrayer can move forward to recovery
Whether you voluntarily revealed that you were having an affair or you were caught, if you want your marriage to recover, it is vital that you completely and permanently end all interactions with the other person. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, grief, and depression may be the result of your unfaithfulness and whether you believe it or not your feelings too matter. You too must take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Seek out trusted advisors (that are same gender) that you can speak your heart to and begin to recover. However to begin the healing process and possibly salvage your marriage you must accept responsibility for your actions. Do not make excuses as to why you were unfaithful just own it!
Since the trust bond has been broken commit to doing all you can to rebuild that trust. Moments by moment, choice by choice, remain consistent, don’t be defensive and become a person who truly is trustworthy. It will be a potentially long process for your marriage to get back to good health, and throughout you will need to be patient and quick to listen no matter how long it takes your spouse to recover. Throughout the process run to God and allow Him to wash you clean of all unrighteousness, learn to forgive yourself, and seek forgiveness from your spouse.
There is hope for your marriage! Recovery and restoration are possible! In fact it’s possible to come out on the other side strong and better than before.