Rekindling Love: Rebuilding After Infidelity
Mark Sanfeld and his wife are attempting to rebuild their marriage after the revelation that he had an affair with a woman in Argentina. This story reintroduces a question about whether marriages can truly survive or be rebuilt after one spouse has cheated.
This issue is so prevalent that the Mayo Clinic has developed guidelines to help couples who have suffered such devastation to their marriage. Here is what they offer to couples attempting to recover from such a crisis.
- Cut off all ties to the lover. You might think that this step would seem self-explanatory and obvious, but it’s not so clear when you’re in the situation. Sometimes the cheater thinks that he or she can have a truly platonic relationship with the former lover. Or they may think that simply calling them once in a while is harmless. But after being so involved in that kind of secretive, deceptive relationship, it would be playing with fire to continue in any sort of communication.
- Establish your goals as a couple. Not everyone wants to stay and attempt to repair the marriage, so it is critical to get on the same page as a couple. If the goal is to actually attempt to restore the marriage, then the relationship has a chance. But this is a step that can’t be assumed. It has to be verbalized and restated because it’ll require a lot of work to get the marriage back on track.
- Talk about it. It’s always therapeutic to have a trusted person to talk to after any traumatic or emotional situation. Infidelity is one of the most traumatic and emotional situations, so it’s vital to have someone, possibly a professional counselor, to talk with throughout the process.
- Other issues. Infidelity is a complex issue and never takes place in a vacuum. There’s no denying that there are other underlying issues in the marriage that’s suffered from this tragic breach of trust and loyalty. Those underlying issues are as central to restoring the marriage as the getting over the cheating itself.
- Trust. Because deception and disloyalty are so embedded in the nature of infidelity, trust is one of the hardest things to restore. This will take time but there’s no getting around the necessity of trust in any relationship, all the more one as intimate and sacred as marriage.
- Forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most important ways to begin to restore trust. It may not, and probably will not, happen overnight. That’s okay. But there is no moving forward in a relationship without forgiveness. It is the pathway to the restored relationship.
- Part Ways. Sometimes the marriage has suffered too deeply and one or both spouses simply do not, or cannot, move forward. Not every marriage survives infidelity. If that’s the situation, there’s no point in dragging out the inevitable. It’s important to have a healthy awareness of the state of the relationship and of the individuals in it. If that’s the case, then acknowledge the situation as it is and move on.
Infidelity is prevalent enough that we all know someone who has — or have ourselves — experienced its devastating effects. Have you seen marriages restored after such a crisis? Do you think it’s possible for the Sanfelds — or any other couple for that matter — to have their marriage restored after such devastating unfaithfulness?