9 Important Keys for Healing a Marriage After an Affair by Anne Bercht
Healing a marriage after an affair begins with hope. You need to know and believe you can move beyond the pain and get the life you want. It does take two. Some people think you can never get over it, but hat’s not true. True healing is remembering the affair, and no longer having pain associated with the memory.
Our journey was a lot harder than it needed to be, because we did not have the tools and the roadmap that we are now able to give you.
When we were healing our own marriage (now nineteen years ago), we sought professional help. While some was helpful, we found much of it to be damaging.
Once healed we looked back on our journey and thought, “What is wrong with the world? Affairs are such a common problem and nobody seems to know how to really help people.”
The Healing from Affairs program we have now developed deals directly with the heart of the matter and cuts straight to the core of affair issues.
The affair is not part of our lives anymore. Although helping others heal has become our life’s work and passion, we don’t discuss Brian’s affair anymore.
Leaning into the pain is key to getting beyond it. Trying to bury it, skirt around it, or avoid the issues will keep you stuck, and prolong your agony. Today Brian’s affair is just an asterix in our life story together. It’s no longer the whole book. The same can be true for you. We’ll show you how.
TO THE UNFAITHFUL:
Step up to the plate, and take responsibility. The affair will change your relationship. It can change it for good or for worse. Which way it goes from here depends on what you decide to do (or not do).
Prior to the affair our relationship was like walking into Best Buy in the home theatre section seeing the highest quality big screen TV with film footage of the Grand Canyon playing. The colors are so vivid and clear. Likewise, our marriage was a very good thing.
Today our marriage is no longer like looking at the Grand Canyon on a 60” top of the line TV, instead it’s like standing at the edge of the cliff at the Grand Canyon. Although it was good before, it’s incomparably better today. How did we get here? We both had to grow up!
If you don’t want your marriage to be like it was before, don’t worry, it won’t be. The same is not an option once an affair has happened. It will be better or worse, never the same. Where you go from here is your choice.
AFFAIR RECOVERY 101: TWO BIG MISTAKES TO AVOID!!!!
To the unfaithful: Do not minimize facts about the affair. That’s lying. Be utterly truthful. For example, if your spouse asks how long was the affair, and it was a year, don’t say it was 6 months long thinking somehow that will hurt your spouse less. It’s going to hurt them more, because you are lying when you claim to be telling the truth. They will find out!
To the betrayed: Be careful with your reactions. Don’t do and say things in your anger that you can’t take back, which can cause deep wounds, drive your spouse away, and further damage your relationship. Don’t lose your dignity by lowering yourself, or embarrassing yourself. And by all means, don’t break the law. You will not feel better at all if you end up sitting in jail! We know you are deeply wounded, and we know that what you are suffering is not fair, but inflicting more wounds is counterproductive to your own healing and well-being.
It’s our experience that when it comes to healing a marriage after an affair, mistakes made after disclosure can often cause even more damage than the affair itself. Couples who heal the quickest and with greatly reduced unnecessary agony are the ones who get our help early in the journey rather than later.
9 Essential Steps to Recovery
1. No contact with the 3rd party. No emails, text messages, phone calls, waves across the parking lot, smoke signals, facebooking, or putting a message in a bottle, throwing it in the ocean and hoping the affair partner finds it. This goes for the betrayed spouse as well. No contact! The 3rd party is an enemy of your marriage. Your enemy is not a reliable source of information. (If the unfaithful works with the affair partner, and changing this situation is not a possibility, we can help you find a safe way to deal with this.) Healing a marriage after an affair requires that the affair partner is no longer given insight into what is or isn’t happening in the marriage.
2. Gain perspective. Seeing the affair not just as a personal offence against you, but rather as a problem of our society as a whole. How do you gain perspective? Educate yourself. Read books. Talk with others who’ve been through it. BAN support groups.
The perpetrator has to turn around and become the healer. Even so, the spouse who had the affair cannot be the betrayed spouse’s sole source of support.
To the innocent spouse: You are not to blame for the affair. You are not the reason why the affair happened. Unfaithfulness is all about the unfaithful person.
What about Communication?
3. Lots of talking. The unfaithful needs to be willing to answer questions about the affair. Tell the truth. We recommend often using a public place. We healed our marriage at Starbucks, because the setting creates safety.
Healing a marriage after an affair starts on the day of disclosure and when the betrayed spouse gets the whole truth.
When talking about the affair, emotions can escalate so quickly. Your communication skills are going to be taxed to the max. This is the reason why it’s so important to get extra communication training before engaging in these difficult post disclosure healing talks.
As a foundation, you need to understand your differences. Husbands and wives generally speak two different languages. It’s important to first understand yourself, why you think, act and respond as you do. Then to understand why your spouse sees and thinks so differently in a similar situation. In the Healing from Affairs seminar we show you how to make your personality differences an asset to your relationship instead of a hindrance. We teach you how to capitalize on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.
Usually both people are talking and no one is listening. You are having dual monologues. In our seminar we teach you how to talk through difficult issues in a way that will leave you feeling closer to each other instead of doing damage to your relationship. A framework is given that makes talking about difficult issues safe. Those same talks that are probably now perpetuating damage in your relationship can be turned around to bring healing instead.
Understanding How & Why Affairs Happen
4. Discover the core issues behind “why” the affair really happened in your marriage. Brian was shocked that he had an affair because it was totally against his character. In our Healing from Affairs seminar we take you through a process to help you to discover the core reasons why the affair happened. Generally in the beginning when the betrayed asks, why did you do what you did? The unfaithful doesn’t really know the answer. That’s why the answers they do give are generally lame and unsatisfactory. We’ll show you how to discover the real reasons together.
5. Rebuild trust. How do you rebuild trust? The answer is easy. I can give you the answer in 4 words: Proven behavior over time. However, we consistently find this answer alone doesn’t satisfy people. In our Healing from Affairs Intensive we’ve put together a whole experience that helps couples understand how to rebuild trust. In our process we are able to break down “proven behavior” into clear, tangible, doable steps.
The Role of FORGIVENESS in Healing a Marriage after an Affair
6. Forgive. Forgiveness is a learned skill essential to healing a marriage after an affair. It comes neither easily nor naturally because it is contrary to human nature, which tells us those who wronged us must pay a price.
Forgiveness is not forgetting about it, condoning the wrongful behavior, or releasing a person from the consequences.
Reconciliation and forgiveness are not equal. In the Healing from Affairs Intensive we are able to teach you the skills both of forgiveness and proper apologies. It’s not just about the betrayed forgiving the unfaithful. Forgiveness goes both ways, because there are no perfect people and no perfect spouses, so even though the betrayed has not had an affair, there are still ways we’ve hurt our spouse and need to ask for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the final step to healing a marriage after an affair – not one of the first ones. Quick forgiveness is cheap forgiveness. Early in the journey it might seem unfathomable how one could ever get there. It’s wise, therefore, not to focus on the end goal when the journey has barely begun.
SEXUAL STRUGGLES when Healing a Marriage After an Affair
7. Rebuild sexual intimacy. It’s up to the unfaithful spouse to make the betrayed spouse feel loved, cherished, reassured and special again. There tends to be struggles from the betrayed picturing the unfaithful spouse having sex with the affair partner, and when this is happening it’s almost impossible to engage sexually.
To the unfaithful: Don’t expect the betrayed to respond sexually right away. Healing a marriage after an affair takes time.
Sex has many different purposes. One of the purposes of sex is to bring healing. We recommend, therefore, that a couple re-engage sexually as soon as they can without either spouse feeling violated.
How long does Healing a Marriage after an Affair take?
8. Patience. The healing journey is not a straight line from terrible to good. If you are expecting perfection from your spouse it’s not going to work.
One of the biggest mistakes couples make is getting caught up in how long it takes. As if you could say, you will be healed in 2 years, 3 months, 6 days, four hours, 11 minutes and 6.7 seconds. Each couple is different. It depends on the degree of the betrayal, the extent to which both parties have the right tools, avoid classic mistakes, devote time to the healing process, and the sincerity (attitude) with which both spouses engage.
If you are a betrayed spouse less than 5 months post disclosure stop reading. The following doesn’t pertain to you yet.
Separate Affair Issues from Marital Issues
9. Both spouses need to take responsibility for ways they may have failed each other in the marriage. It’s important to separate affair issues from marital issues. The unfaithful spouse tends to blame the innocent spouse for their affair initially. This is not true. In reality they are deflecting, often without realizing it. It’s easier to blame the other person than to take a look at our own failings. Even in a bad marriage, there are always healthy ways to deal with unhappiness in the marriage. An affair is not an answer to unhappiness in the marriage.
Brian came to realize that even if I’d done everything right before the affair, he still would’ve had an affair because the affair does not have anything to do with the innocent spouse and everything to do with the unfaithful.
The question is how long do you want to struggle? If you need help in these areas, don’t delay. Come to a Healing from Affairs intensive now.
Christa from Dallas, TX said:
“We recently attended a Healing From Affairs Intensive. We are still less than 6 months post disclosure. We’re not healed yet, but because of the weekend I have been able to forgive my husband, and we are now on the most positive healing path ever. I could not imagine being where we are at now without the weekend. The weekend made all the difference in the world for us. It gave us such awesome tools. We are in such a wonderful place just because we did the weekend. I just cannot say enough. It was worth every dime and so much more. I would tell anyone going through this, that if there is any chance you can attend, please, please, please do!” – Christa, Dallas, TX
What if your spouse is not yet doing the right things?
PS – If you want to rebuild your marriage, and your spouse is asking you for patience, asking for forgiveness and not yet doing the right things to heal the marriage, tell them sure, you’ll forgive and be patient, but they need to take a step to earn this. They need to call 360-306-3367 and ask for help. If they are a male unfaithful spouse, they can ask to speak with Brian Bercht. If they are a female unfaithful spouse, we will hook them up with one of our female coaches who once was unfaithful, but has ‘woman’- ed up and done the work to heal. Our coaches understand the feelings involved. All have lived it. All have restored their marriages and gotten to that “standing at the edge of the cliff” at the Grand Canyon experience. We can help you get there too.
PSS – Don’t hesitate to contact us for help. We’ve spent the last 19 years doing what others have called “impossible” and healing a marriage after an affair with great success! We can help you achieve “impossible” too!
Don’t hesitate. Find out more about our up and coming marriage seminars, because this is a place where you can find health and healing.
For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.