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Marriage After An Affair

Written by Rita Kennen

Don't let an affair be the final chapter in your marriage. Learn how to rekindle the passion and that can make love last.

The danger signals are there. He's restless at home, goes to work earlier, comes home later, is impossible to reach at the office, and has unexplainable credit card receipts in his pockets.

You confront him. He admits it. Do you:

a)Throw his stuff out of the window and change the locks.

b)Close your eyes and look the other way.

c)Try and figure out how and why it happened.

Whether you chose a, b, or c, consider this:

"Fidelity in a marriage is not a guarantee that love persists, nor is infidelity a sign that love has faded or died," writes therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil. "In fact, it can even be a way-albeit dysfunctional-to try and stabilize a floundering relationship."

Weil, author of "Adultery, The Forgivable Sin,"  explains infidelity this way: " It's a wake-up shake-up, a way to get attention and get heard, cry for help that nine out of 10 times makes the relationship better."

The fallout, she says, can make people work out their relationship and not take each other for granted.

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In other words an affair doesn't mean a marriage is doomed. People do forgive, forget, and even use infidelity as an opportunity for growth. And although the cast of characters always varies, Weil offers this relationship-healing advice.

For the betrayed:

Recognize your part. This encourages quicker healing and eventual forgiveness.

Ask questions. You don't want to know all the gory details but the more you know, the less your imagination will fill in the painful blanks.

Set firm limits to stop the affair. Give an ultimatum if she wants it both ways.

Allow the adulterer to grieve what he has lost.

For the adulterer:

Let the betrayed be as upset as she needs.

Let her "lash the lover" figuratively in order to heal.

Don't minimize or get angry at his anger.

Remind her daily that you've had no contact with the lover.

Do the things for her that you did in the honeymoon phase of your relationship.

"Most couples really want to stay and love each other, but lack passion and communication," says Weil. An affair is the brush with death that can refuel the passion.

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