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Beating the Cheating – Restoring a Marriage Ravaged by Infidelity
Former American Idol winner and now popular country singer Carrie Underwood made a fortune with her hit song “Before You Cheat” about her man’s brutal and destructive behavior when he discovers her at a bar with another woman. He speculates on how he’s pulling the other woman while he himself slashes the truck’s tires, knocks out its lights, and destroys his prized pickup truck. The song seems to have struck a chord with Americans. The song rocked the music charts, spending 5 weeks at No. 1 and winning the 2007 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Country Song.
Infidelity has always been a major problem in marriage. In ancient times and in some cultures, it was accepted as a norm…even expected that a husband would take a lover in addition to his wife. Of course, this attitude has changed in our society and in our times, but infidelity is still prevalent and destroys thousands of marriages every year. Nowadays, when the Internet is basically in every household, infidelity among men and women has exploded. The increasingly gendered workplace has contributed to the rise of infidelity as men and women are more accessible, closer and travel together than ever before. The bottom line is that men and women are more likely to cheat than ever before.
It’s safe to say that infidelity can do a lot of damage to a family. In fact, many marriages never recover because of the adulterous adventures of the spouses. Often others encourage and encourage the “innocent” spouse to divorce immediately. After all…”fool me once and shame on me…..fool me twice and shame on me”. It seems to be the mantra of our society.
However… is the problem cut and dry? Is it that easy to catch your spouse cheating, drop them like a hot potato and move on with your life? Bada-bah….bada-bing!
I’m not sure. While adultery is unquestionably hurtful, we know that divorce can be difficult to endure, especially when children are involved. The consequences of divorce can be just as devastating to a family as infidelity. Research shows that divorce has long-term negative effects on children’s behavior, security, academics, and mental and emotional well-being.
So are these the only two options in response to infidelity? Stay married while the infidelity continues or endure the same amount of pain through divorce?
Although it is a long and difficult journey, I suggest that marriage recovery should be an option to be seriously considered. If the wronged partner is truly repentant and humble, and the victimized spouse is willing, true restoration can take place. In fact, when marriages deal with issues from years ago, and when both spouses follow through, recovery can bring marriages to a level of connection and intimacy that they never had before.
Here are some key features to help you recover.
o Both spouses must desire recovery: If one spouse is emotionally “over” the marriage, recovery can be very difficult. Both parties have to do the work (and it is work) to restore the union and really want to.
o Must be humble: The offending partner must own up to what they have done, refuse to minimize it, and realize how much they have hurt their spouse and family. On the other hand, the “innocent” partner must be careful to show enough humility to resist the temptation to use infidelity as a long-term aggressive weapon against his wife.
o Forgiveness as a foundation: Although it is a slow process, true forgiveness is critical to recovery. The injured party must work through their feelings until they can “let go” of being “indebted” to the offender for their hurtful choices. Again, it won’t be easy and it won’t happen instantly. However, this should be one of the goals of treatment.
o Accountability/Support Systems: Both the offender and the injured spouse should take steps to find healthy and safe people who can take responsibility and support the recovery process. For the perpetrator, this means finding people who can be open and honest, but who are not afraid of condemnation. Secrecy breeds infidelity, so the offender must find a support group that will listen to him, overcome obstacles, and offer him both truth and grace. For the injured spouse, it is equally important to find a support group. They will need to take responsibility to ensure that family rehabilitation is effective and not counterproductive.
o Transparency: Part of marital rehabilitation is ensuring that both spouses feel safe enough to be transparent with the other. The perpetrator must avoid secrecy, and the victim’s response must be safe enough to support such honesty. Again, accountability partners can really help here.
o Commitment: The journey to recovery is hard, long, and full of ups and downs. Often it’s three steps forward and one step back. Both husband and wife should be willing to stay with him even when he is late.
o Faith must be restored: “Son, faith is like a tree…..it takes a long time to grow, but it can be chopped down in a day,” my father used to say. He was so right. Rebuilding trust comes from changing behavior over time. The criminal must understand that even if he makes positive changes, he will not be trusted for long. However, in order for the wounded spouse to see this and learn to trust again, they must work hard for maturity and growth. On the other hand, the injured party must allow trust to be restored, which means slowly opening your heart to the person who hurt you the most. It’s not easy for either side, but a relationship cannot rise above the level of trust.
o Marriage as a whole must be evaluated and renewed: I like this quote from Dr. Dave Carder, author of Torn Asunder:
“Most divorces are not the fault of the spouses. The reason for this is due to general life experiences. In most cases, the faithful spouse (especially the wife) is unfairly accused of “pushing” him. Although I have seen cases where this was true. most often it is a gradual distance between the two partners. For men, it is usually a loss of playfulness, flirting and flirting, as well as a lack of respect and respect for their wives. For women, it is usually a loss of tenderness, care and concern from their husbands. Most of us who marry their new spouses so that they can spend “more time” together. Fun together and more love – you can see where disappointment can come from. is related to love and gratitude. It’s a whole package of emotions. care and what happens in that marriage. We get so busy that we don’t take care of each other. “We get so busy that we stop having fun with each other, and that’s what gets people in the ‘boom-boom’ phase into trouble.”
Admitting that there were many factors in the marriage that led to the hurtful choice of infidelity is a difficult step. The adulterer risks using it to justify the affair. The injured spouse risks taking all the blame. However, there are usually many reasons why a person chooses to cheat. Appreciation of marital deficiencies does not absolve the perpetrator of guilt. It does not blame the innocent spouse. What it does do, however, is allow couples to identify weaknesses in their marriage; separation, neglect, remote place. Not only does it allow couples to transform their marriage into a relationship that survives the horrors of infidelity, but it also allows them to close past gaps, renew commitments, and transition from marriage to a more loving and healthy relationship. before.
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