An affair often causes marriages to break and crumble. In many cases, the victim suffers from betrayal trauma, which is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. It takes time and a lot of effort to rebuild from the rubble of what was once a happy marriage.
It is worth it if both parties are willing to work and change. Your broken heart can be fixed if you and your husband are willing to work together to rebuild and fight to find the love you once had.
Here are seven tips to help in the journey to start anew:
1. Discover the cause behind the affair
Typically, it is weaknesses in a marriage that cause a spouse to stray. This includes not making time for each other, avoiding small issues or putting each other down instead of encouraging one another. If you want your marriage to survive, you need to address the source of your relationship problems and resolve them.
The first step is communicating with your spouse. According to Aaron Anderson, marriage and family therapist, discussing the details of the affair is one of the most difficult steps couples face. He explains that the victim often, "[obsesses] about the details wanting to know how often it happened... if gifts were ever bought for each other, etc. And, yes, it usually does only hurt the relationship more to ask about it."
So, don't get into the dirty details of the affair with your husband. Seek out why he had the affair in the first place, and try to find solutions together to resolve your problems.
Remember, you don't want to go back to your old, vulnerable marriage. You want a new, stronger marriage by fixing the weaknesses that existed before.
2. Set up a pattern of honesty
Trust is the hardest thing to rebuild in the aftermath of an affair. Many times, you probably think, "How can I ever trust again the man who broke my heart?" That is why it is important to set a pattern of honesty in your marriage.
Tell each other everything. Be open with your husband about how you feel, and listen to what he has to say. Don't be afraid to ask him where he is going, or to ask to see his cellphone. Be open, and never keep secrets from one another. Slowly, but surely trust can be restored in your marriage if both of you are completely honest with each other.
Writing your thoughts and feelings in a letter can help you work through a lot of your personal issues. Also, the letters will help your husband better understand how you feel. Write about the pain you feel, and remind him why you fell in love with him in the first place.
Letters are one of the most romantic ways to speak to another person. This is a way you both can connect on an emotional level. He just might surprise you with a letter or two as well.
The No. 1 thing to remember in this process is that everything can't be fixed overnight. Rome wasn't built in a day. The same goes for rebuilding your marriage. There will be good and bad days.
According to Dr. Harley from Marriage Builders, to help get through the bad days you both must deposit love units into each other's love bank. Love units are anything your spouse does to help invoke that feeling of love. This can be him cleaning the dishes without being asked, or you playing his favorite video game with him. These love units add up and are stored in the love bank. This bank helps carry you through the bad days, and reminds you this marriage is worth saving.
5. Support and reassure
Recovering after an affair will be one of the most difficult tests for your marriage. It is grueling, and at times, you'll probably wonder if it is worth it. Support each other during these times. Let him hold you, and tell you how much he loves you. Reassure him that you haven't given up on him. Work together to set up a new support system. When things get hard, go to him before you approach your family and friends for support. Give him a chance to provide the support you need. Help him understand that he can go to you and bear his soul as well. Rely on each other through the good and the bad.
6. Spend alone time together
To fall in love again, you need to date your husband. When a husband and wife consistently date and romance each other the odds of staying in love go up.
Look for time when you both can be alone without distractions. This can be going out to lunch, taking walks in the park, or even taking a special weekend trip. Schedule alone time with him each week, and make this a priority in your marriage.
The most important part of falling in love again is letting go of the past. It takes time, but don't dwell on it forever. Make a conscious effort to forgive and move on. Live in the present, and love the man he is now not who he was.
If both of you have tried your best to rebuild your marriage, your love will grow. One day, you will realize you have forgiven him. This will bring you peace, and help you both to begin your new happily ever-after.