Making it through an affair involves many small meaningful decisions throughout the course of the day. Early on this may be an act of will and choice moving through the pain to be kind to one another. Many days the pain will seem so intense that you desire to end the marriage.
We tell our story so that you can find hope and borrow it from us for a bit. It is key to remain faithful to the process regardless of how you feel in the moment about the long-term outlook for the marriage. In my case at some point almost daily for 14 months I thought about what it would be like to get divorced and 'move on'. But I see people that have done that and they feel just as much pain as I felt if not more.
Divorce offers many soft, puffy illusions. In reality, it rips our souls another gaping wound. By staying and grinding it out I now have a terrific friend, life partner, lover and confidant in my wife. I also never had to deal with another man tucking my kids into bed and I am deeply grateful for that.
Rebuilding trust can be helped along by exhibiting “low cost behavior changes” that each of you would like, not just the betrayed spouse. These “low cost behavior changes” require less emotionally than “high cost behavior changes”, which require greater sacrifice. An example of a low cost behavior change is “Tell me if your lover contacts you.” An example of a high cost behavior change is “Quit your job that keeps you in contact with your lover.” Make your own list of what you want from your partner. Putting together your own low-cost behavior change lists… Betrayed spouse – request behaviors that make you feel more cared for, appreciated, secure. Infidel spouse – request behaviors that reassure you that your efforts to rebuild trust are recognized.
1. Be as positive and specific as possible. Concentrate on what you want your spouse to do…not what you do not want them to do.
2. Respect your spouse’s requests as being important to him or her.
3. Respond to different requests on different days. Don’t repeat one or two and ignore the rest.
4. Put your lists in a visible place. Visible could mean on the inside of a closet door where only you two can see it, or on the refrigerator where anyone can see it.
5. Do what your spouse requests, whether or not you feel hopeful about the future.
6. Add new requests to your list and discuss them as you learn more about yourself and what you need to feel secure and loved.
7. Nothing should be taken as a demand or a requirement…theses are requests…so don’t be afraid to write down everything that matters to you. Talk over what you’re asking for and what you expect the positive impact to be.
8. Address all aspects of your relationship…communication, free time, finances, sex, the children, personal habits, etc. Examples of low cost behavior changes… Call or text me during the day. Tell me when you feel happy or optimistic about our future together. Tell me what upset/pleased you during the day. Hold me and show understanding when I’m upset; don’t give up on me. Show me affection outside the bedroom. Tell me when you feel insecure about us, rather than assume I’m deceiving you.
List adapted from After the Affair by Janis Abrahms Spring