Either you or your spouse has had an affair, and it has devastated your marriage. Now, the mistake of the affair has been acknowledged, and you both wish to salvage what’s left of your relationship.
It’s not an easy fix. Many days you’ll feel as if it’s two steps back for every one step forward.
How do you gauge whether your rebuilding efforts are on track, or whether your efforts are doomed to failure? I’ll give you three red flags to be on the alert for which could signal the derailment of you and your spouse’s best efforts to save your marriage. To learn what those red flags are – and how to sidestep them – read more…
The Explosive Aftermath of an Affair
Post-affair efforts to revive a broken marriage are fraught with peril. There are the haunting images, negative thoughts and miserable memories. There is the emotional backlash to contend with: the hurt feelings, damaged self-esteem and crushed spirit of the victim, and the guilt of the cheater.
Even if you, as a couple, agree to work on saving your marriage, there are still lingering doubts, unanswered questions and second guessing.
Being in a relationship when things are going well can be challenging enough when two different personalities are brought together. Take that same relationship and throw in an affair, and you have the equivalent of a dirty bomb going off. In this wreckage, you have two people who may have the very best of intentions, trying to pick up the pieces of their marriage and repair the damage.
Is it any wonder you may be struggling to actually save your marriage, when there is so much muck surrounding your efforts?
Working through an affair takes a systematic approach: first, on the part of the victim, who has to deal with that juggernaut of pain. The cheater also needs to look at the damage they’ve caused, and do some internal housekeeping to uncover what prompted such a ridiculous decision while also working through their own emotional aftermath.
When you and your spouse come together to work on the marriage, you and your spouse – as individuals – may still have a foot in some of the healing aspects that occur after the affair. This is why the early phases of rebuilding a marriage can feel so rocky.
But there are also some red flags to watch for that could further damage your relationship, leading you down the wrong path and ultimately away from your goal of saving the marriage.
Maintain Vigilance for these Three Red Flags
You and your spouse may have the best of intentions when it comes to saving your marriage. However, you may not recognize some of these signs that your efforts are in danger of collapse. See if you recognize any of these red flags in your present circumstances:
Red Flag 1: Anger flare-ups
When what are supposed to be ordinary conversations erupt into angry outbursts, your efforts to save your marriage can get caught in ‘stall’ mode. And if you and your spouse are unable to have a civil conversation – especially the productive ones needed to move forward – your marriage will move into ‘fail’ mode.
There is no reason to think you won’t become angry when discussing certain topics with your spouse, and vice versa. It’s not the anger: it’s how you manage it that counts.
Ask your spouse to agree to this: the next time either of you feels you’re becoming overheated, take a time out before it gets to the yelling stage. Angry outbursts only lead to more hurt feelings and a deepening of the relationship rift.
Red Flag 2: Judge, jury – and executioner of your marriage
Another red flag to watch out for is being judgmental of your spouse. This is especially the case for the victim of the affair, who has been severely wronged by their spouse’s cheating. You are so hurt by your spouse’s actions, you may begin to believe that everything you do is right and everything your spouse does is wrong.
When you find yourself in a position of thinking your spouse is just ‘wrong’ and you are the one who does everything right, stop and look at yourself. No, you are not responsible for the affair. Set the fact of the affair to the side for a moment, and examine your role in the relationship. Are there ways you could have done things differently before? Focus on the changes you can make now so that you and your spouse can heal and move forward into a stronger marriage.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should have poured more of yourself into the marriage, if you feel you’d already given it your all. Maybe you put too much of yourself into the marriage and neglected your own needs – which means you need to define what your needs as an individual are, and make sure you put a priority on taking care of them. Analyze your marriage up to the point of the affair revelation.
Red Flag 3: Selfishness
Ah, but didn’t I just write, as an example, to take care of your own needs?
This is where balance comes in, the give/take of a marriage. You and your spouse have individual needs, but if fulfilling them could potentially hurt the other, reassess that need and answer whether or not you could live without fulfilling that need for the good of your relationship.
These may be little things that occur in the course of daily living, and can be defined as inconsiderate to the other spouse. For example, one of you may be responsible for a certain chore in the home. But this week, you feel you need to just relax and not do anything for that week. If this causes a backlog of work for your spouse because you refuse to do your one critical part, this would be inconsiderate. Is your need for a little rest and relaxation worth causing stress for your spouse?
My best to you as you work to repair your marriage and maintain vigilance for these red flags that could derail your efforts.
Are you working with your spouse to rebuild your marriage?
Do you recognize any of these red flags in your relationship?
How are you and your spouse handling some of these potential relationship destroyers?
Please share your ideas and personal experiences with other members of the community.