What Can you Do With A Dead Marriage After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  Many people have no idea if they even want their marriage to survive after their spouse has an affair.  It can be hard enough to decide how you feel only today.  It’s very difficult to determine how you might feel in the future.  And yet, at some point that’s what many people decide to do – mostly because of their families.  They want their kids (and themselves) to have some stability and so they  decide to stay with their marriage and hope for the best, even if they aren’t sure that this will all turn out OK.

Sometimes, this strategy works.  The marriage is able to recover and the couple is happy.  Other times though, no matter how much time passes, the marriage continues to struggle.  As an example, a wife might describe something like this: “my husband had an affair a couple of years ago.  I lived with my mom for about six weeks after that.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my marriage.  I just knew that I didn’t want to see my husband for a while because I was so angry.  He left me alone for a while but then he started sending flowers and coming over.  He begged me to think of our children.  And despite my anger at him, I knew that he was right about this.  It would seriously hurt our children if we were to break up.  I did not tell him this right away.  I made him wonder what I would decide.  I made him sweat a bit.  I have to admit that he was very sweet throughout that process.  He could not do enough for me.  So I finally agreed to recommit to our marriage.  And I foolishly thought that once this decision was made, we could move on.  Well, we tried to move on.  But I’m afraid that we were not even remotely successful.  Sure, we are still married.  But it’s a bad marriage.  It is a dead marriage.  Sometimes, I look at him and I realize that I feel nothing.  I guess I am still angry.  And I am not sure what would take my anger away.  He has most been a good husband since the affair.  He does what I ask him to do. But there’s really not any connection anymore.  There’s no intimacy.  We don’t fight.  I don’t bring up the affair.  But I guess I still have a problem with it because I rarely feel loving toward him.  At the same time, I feel trapped.  Because I know that I am not going to leave this marriage.  I know that I’ve committed to stay for my kids.  But I feel like I’ll have a dead marriage for the rest of my life and that is very depressing.”

You’re right.  It is depressing.  But I think it may not be as depressing as you might believe right this second.  Because I believe that you might be premature in thinking that nothing can be done for your marriage.  Yes, you sometimes need help to rebuild it.  And yes, it requires for you to be proactive.  But people revive marriages all of the time.

It doesn’t happen on its own, though.  I believe that this is the biggest mistake that people make.  They think that once they’ve made the decision to stay with their spouse after an affair, then it’s just time to move on.  It’s not that easy.  The initial decision is really only the beginning.  You have to rebuild at that point.  You have to understand that your marriage has been very damaged.  It’s not going to rebound unless you put a lot of time and attention back into it.

Very few of us have the skills and knowledge to facilitate this process all by ourselves.  We don’t know how gauge where our marriage is, what it needs to heal, and how to get it from one level to the next.  And that is why you sometimes need professional help.  I know that many people are resistant to counseling.  But isn’t it worth it to try counseling when you’re living in a marriage that is clearly not fulfilling you?  How much worse could the counseling be than day to day life knowing that it might never change?

I always felt that if that was what was required to get my life back, so be it.  The counselor can sort of lead the way for you.  But, you and your spouse have to put in the time and do the work.  It’s not always fun or easy. It feels unfair sometimes.  But the pay off is there.  Because at the end of it, you will usually see a marriage that is quite different, and a good bit better, than what you started with.

If you absolutely hate the idea of counseling, then at least look at marital resources and educate yourself about healing and rebuilding.  Unfortunately, you usually can’t just expect your marriage to repair on its own.  That would be nice, but that rarely happens.  You have to fight for it.  And if you do, you may just find that your marriage isn’t dead after all.

My marriage had a lot of struggles after the affair.  I realized that we weren’t going to be able to move past our issues with hopes and good thoughts alone.  We did a combination of counseling and self help.  And I forced myself to constantly evaluate where we were.  Plus, both of us worked on ourselves as individuals.  Neither of us depend on the other for our own happiness.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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