I love this question and I really love the couples who face it. Why? Because I can relate, and just by closing my own eyes, I can recall their uncertainty, frustration, and the love they have buried with fear. Should you stay together after an affair? In my opinion, the answer is sometimes a hardy ‘no,’ regardless of the promise and promises people try to preach in their behalf. These people usually have a huge resistance to letting the unfitting relationship go and opening themselves up to the unknown–thereby missing wonderful opportunities in the right direction.
More often for the people who seek me out, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ I believe people know in their heart whether or not a relationship is worth their hard work and precious energy. Love is free. You can give that to everyone and everything, and there’s no price to pay. However, relationships are a harmonized give and take, so to love the one you are in a relationship with requires daily deposit. In your heart, you need to know that your deposit is worth your energy–or you won’t really give it your all–and you need to know that the relationship is providing you a nutritional return.
After an affair, there are certain characteristics a couple will demonstrate that show their passion and willingness toward each other. All of these are good signs that things will work out for the best. As a dear friend and counselor told me after I experienced betrayal in my marriage, “Sometimes a couple will never recover, and their relationship will end over an affair. Other times, a couple will recover and rebuild and their relationship becomes a thousand times better.” How do you know which category you fall under? Here are some clues that you’re headed for a thousand times better:
1. A Great Track Record. This refers back to another post about Maya Angelou’s quote, “When a person shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.” That doesn’t mean the affair–if a person was trying to show you their dishonesty, deceit, and disloyalty, you would have gotten millions of signs before the actual affair occurred. This means, when you look back on your history together, is it filled with loving, touching, caring moments? Can you tell that good comes from the core in your partner? Or does the good seem to cover up the deceit? I believe that a great track record can even include past mistakes when history shows that the mistakes happen because the person or couple does not know how to deal with times of uncertainty, stress, or upset. Can you see the love beneath your partner’s actions–good or bad? Do you have a record of resilience through tough times?
2. Joy and Optimism. Does your couple love to have fun together? And I don’t mean Bourbon Street, night club, stripper poles-kind-of-fun (and I don’t Not mean that, either), but here I’m talking about Sunday-night-at-home fun. Do you share an overall spirit of joy for the life you share? And the people and activities and things around you? Do you enjoy quiet times alone–is there laughter and peace? Do you look forward to tomorrow, next weekend, next year, and the next decade together? All of these are good signs in the right direction.
3. Connection. When my husband and I are feeling distant of each other, we often refer to our “connection” in conversations about it. Connection is important. It is the feeling that holds the relationship together, that knowing that when I’m not with you–I’m still with you. And vice versa. This is one and the same with trust. Connection can feel like a poor, abused innocent in the aftermath of the affair, but it’s important that you had it and that you are willing to rebuild and improve on it.
4. Passion. This is a given. You must love the one you’re with, and invest in rekindling that desire on a daily basis. Are you excited to see your partner at the end of every day? Do you look forward to phone calls? Intimacy is a fundamental building block in any love relationship. You may be experiencing trust and anxiety issues in this department, but passion can be restored after the affair.
5. Gratitude. This is such a healthy and rewarding expression of self. It is okay if you didn’t express your gratitude often before the affair, but it will be a key to rebuilding and improving your relationship for the future. Gratitude is the manifestation of loving thoughts and optimism combined.
For more information or personal affair recovery coaching, please visit my website at www.rescueyou.org. All the best in life and love, my dears!