How Do You Reconnect With Your Husband After He Cheated?: Hint, You Don’t Place Your Sole Focus On Reconnecting

By: Katie Lersch:  Not every one wants to throw away their marriage after an affair.  Some people actually decide that they want to at least give their marriage a fair chance to be saved.  There are many reasons for this.  But here are a few.  Often, there are other people that must considered.  When you have children, the marital decisions that you make can have serious affects on your children’s upbringing and their future lives.  Sometimes, even though you are extremely angry and disappointed, you still realize that your spouse is a good person who made a mistake.  Or you still value your marriage and don’t want to just throw it away without a fight.

Whatever the reason for your motivation to save your marriage, you might quickly discover that you can’t just snap your fingers and expect for life to go back to the way that it used to be.  No matter how motivated both spouses can be to save the marriage, an affair can rock even a very solid marriage to its core.  Things often feel very awkward and fragile.  There is often resentment and a feeling on unease.  And even when you are trying to present yourself as receptive to your spouse, it can feel as if you might never feel truly close to them again.

Because of this, people often wonder how they are supposed to reconnect with their spouse after the affair.  What is the correct way to go about this?  Do you go on a trip?  Do you participate in intense counseling?  Do you renew your vows?  Someone might ask: “I really want to feel close again one day.  My husband cheated and I’m really angry.  But at the same time, I know that my anger doesn’t really help in any way.  My husband should not have cheated, but we were going through a really stressful time.  I did things that I was not proud of either, but I would never cheat.  I knew early on that I wanted to save my marriage.  The problem is that my marriage has changed.  Things just feel weird between us.  We used to be so close and would talk endlessly.  I used to know what my husband was thinking – at least I thought that I did.  I think that is part of the problem.  I doubt our marriage now.  I doubt that I really knew my husband.  So I can’t feel the closeness.  I want it back.  But when I try to get it back, that’s exactly what it feels like – trying.  Even going out to a very fancy dinner can feel strange sometimes.  My mom said we should go on a very romantic vacation, but that makes me feel anxiety, considering how the fancy dinners have gone.  How are you supposed to reconnect after an affair?  Does it take a very long time of counseling?”

Some people do find counseling helpful.  However, I think that you’ve already hit upon a very unique truth:  Sometimes the more you chase or pursue the closeness, and the more you “try” to reconnect, the more success eludes you.  By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t pursue it.  You shouldn’t just sit passively and not do anything.  I know from experience that when you do that, then sometimes nothing at all happens, so you remain stagnant.  And things remain awkward between you.  The truth is, that you can’t always just expect for healing to magically happen.

But you can not force it, either.  The whole key is often to dial back to the pressure and to let it happen in its own time, and on its own terms.  This means that it may not happen immediately.  There is probably going to be some discomfort at first.  That is just to be expected and it is normal.  Just allow it to happen and keep expectations small.  Pressure can kill any momentum that you gain.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to heal all at once or you will never make it.  As long as the commitment is there and you are making small, gradual progress and having victories, then in my experience, it is enough.

I also found that you don’t need to go on elaborate trips or spend tons of money (although you certainly can if you want to.) Just taking those small moments to spend together and to show your commitment to your spouse is very important.  You’re showing him that you aren’t running away when the going gets tough.  You are sticking right where you promised to be – with him.  Yes, there is work to be done.  Yes, there are gains that must be made.  And you will get to them all.  But it doesn’t need to be a big production.  Live your life.  Actively participate in your marriage without forcing it.  Say what needs to be said, but don’t spend every spare moment doing so.  When you actively (but not forcefully) participate, you will generally find that in time, the intimacy returns on its natural course.  You don’t need to force it or overanalyze it.  You don’t need to make elaborate plans or declarations.  You need to do the work.  You need to hang in there.  And  you just need to be present with an open heart, a willingness to communicate, and patience.  Do the things that you have always enjoyed and that have always bonded you. This can be as simple as watching your favorite TV shows or taking a walk.  It can be as elaborate as a planned trip.  Whatever works for you.  Never forget that the history that you have together is your greatest asset, so by all means, use it.

I always drew on our shared history during our recovery.  And on our family.  When all else was lost, no one could change these two things.  And I have never regretted that.  My marriage is still in tact, at least in part, because of this thought process.  I tried to keep things as simple as I could.   You can  read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

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