Admission of infidelity is just the first step in a long process.The betrayal raised complicative emotions which normally do not fade away without additional work. A one-time apology is not enough to cover the reactions of the partner.Your partner needs to forgive but also to process his or her reactions overtime.The one who committed the offense needs to be patient, remorseful and humble.
The offender needs to accept questions about what happened and tolerate the new hypervigilance for a while.It takes time to restore trust.The other spouse worries about recurrence and betrayal happening a second time.The betrayed thinks, “If an affair happens once and it didn’t come to my knowledge, couldn’t I be missing it again? I’d better stay on guard.I must pay attention to any sign so I won’t be made a fool again.”
However,when infidelity occurs,it’s not the best time to trade blames or justify your behavior,rather it is time for an admittance.After genuinely admitting,here are nine (9) importsnt and proven steps to take when you have admitted your faults. Take a look at them:
Step 1: Stop the affair and make a “no more” contact rule.
If your spouse cannot agree to this step, he or she hasn’t fully ended the affair.Usually,this means the spouse is ambivalent about reconciliation. He or she may be having doubts or be unwilling to give up the affair for the uncertainty of the marriage.
If the third party tries to contact your spouse,follow this guideline. Your spouse will share the information and what steps he or she took to end the contact.Contact must end or there is no proceeding.
Step 2: Acknowledge that the feelings related to the crisis are real and difficult.
Don’t suppress feelings or try to squelch them.Anxiety,grief,depression,and rage are common ground. It needs to be tolerated and managed for the time being.
Step 3: Tell The Story
As painful as this is,it is always a good choice on the part of the offender to relay the whole events as it happened while the allowing the partner to ask questions. The timing and planning of this can be worked out with a therapist.The kind and depth of questions difers from person to person. Some people want to know every detail,others don’t want to know much because of the mental pictures painted.People vary in their need to know details and events.The guilty partner needs to allow for questions and answers factually and truthfully.
There are therapists who will agree to keep an affair secret as long as it stops.In the Christian faith,the biblical injunction is to confess sin one to another. The sin if infidelity is against your partner.You have broken the convenant that involves you ,your spouse and God.Thus,confession is necessary if healing is to occur.
I won’t pretend this confession is easy to do.The obvious fear is that the spouse will leave or file a divorce even when their partner opts for reconciliation.If your partner refuses reconciliation,there is not much that can be done.However,you need to be open to the idea.
Step 4: Begin To Identify What Made You Vulnerable To An Affair
This does not mean you are excusing or judtifying the affair.The person who acted out is responsible for his or her behavior .But it is important to figure out what may have led to this behavior.
The culprit is still accountable and wrong.But knowing the cause helps the repair process and can prevent future problems.For example,was the affair spontaneous- a momentary giving into temptation helped along by alcohol or drugs? Was it permitted because of a need to experiment or a permissive attitude? Was it a reaction to life’s stress-unresolved problems,lack of intimacy,developmental issues,unresolved childhood issues,expectations,power,entitlements,control,or sexual dysfunction?
Did it involve romantic love and emotional intimacy or repetitive patterns of sexual addiction and pornography? Discovering the root problems helps you know what needs to be corrected.
Step 5: What Did The Affair Mean in The Relationship?
For example,was the affair a way to avoid life’s responsibilities? Was it something men just do and women need to accept? Or was it something women are pushed to do and men need to understand anyway? Was it a way to hurt your partner after being hurt? Was it a reaction to a neglect of your relationship with God? Whatever the meaning of the affair,correct the problem or faulty view.
Step 6: Forgive
In my previous podcast episode(c.f),people get confused on the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They are not the same. Forgiveness is something you do by yourself. Forgiveness does not mean you will reconcile.It doesn’t mean you are saying what the person did was wrong.It means you are willing to let go of an offense no matter what happened.Biblically,you are called to do this.It is vital to your overall wellbeing.
Step 7: Release The Person From Judgement
In the real sense of it,this is difficult to do.You want your partner to pay for the pain he or she caused.Our culture is big on judgement and the church is no exception. Your partner will face the consequence but it is not your place to judge the person continually and throw the affair at his or her face.God is the judge. Work on forgiveness and moving past this traumatizing event.
Step 8: Rebuild Romance and Care
Try to recall moments of attraction,caring,and thoughtfulness.Rebuild the friendship that may have dropped off along the way.Determine to say positive and loving things to your partner- not out of guilt but because you must build respect and caring again.The stronger your friendship,the easier it will be to rebuild the relationship. You have to rediscover the man or woman who attracted you in the first place.This doesn’t mean you ignore what has happened and stopped talking about it,it simply means you have to renew romance in the relationship.Go out on dates,pay attention to the emotional life of your partner.Again,this takes time and will feel uncomfortable at first.
Step 9: Move Toward Reconciliation
Reconciliation is a process that moves beyond forgiveness.One person can forgive but it takes two to reconcile.You may have to lay down differences- agree to disagree on some points, accept a flawed individual,and work hard to mend broken parts of the relationship-but it can be done.
Except for cases of ongoing harm or repeated,unrepe infidelity and unwillingness to change- reconciliation -not divorce should be the goal Reconciliation requires mutual restoring of trust between two people that comes through trustworthy behavior.Forgiveness is a part of reconciliation.
It is possible for God to free you (once you ‘ve gone through the reconciliation process) from intrusive thoughts related to past affairs.In God,the past is not a prologue to the future because of christ death and resurrection.That is radical when you come to think of it.Not only can you be forgiven and reconciled,but you can also be freed from persistent guilt and condemnation.
Consequently,if you have experienced an affair in your marriage,it’s possible to survive it,repair the brokeness,and be cleansed from the guilt.