The pain felt by the wounded party after the revelation of an affair is immense. They feel blindsided. Their world has been turned upside down. Everything they thought to be true in their marriage is now in question. They hear everything through a filter of “possible lie” and betrayal. Even truths that they have known in the marriage for years, are now taken into question. I’ve heard clients say, the person they love most in the world has “stabbed them in the back.” Unfortunately, all too often the wounding party underestimates the damage and pain inflicted on their spouse and the marriage.
In the immediate days and weeks following the disclosure or discovery of an infidelity, the wounding party can feel numb, avoidant, shame filled or remorse. None of these emotions create the same emotional roller coaster that the wounded party feels. However, each party gets caught in the emotional dilemma of wanting connection and not wanting connection with each other. Clearly, this is a tough time and the marriage becomes very fragile.
These first days and weeks are critical to the survival of the marriage. If the wounding party immediately takes the right steps, the repair work can begin. If the person who stepped out of the relationship can now see their role as the *“marriage rebuilder” they can weather the roller coaster ahead.
Seven “DO” steps the wounding party can take immediately, to help start repairing the marriage:
1. Come clean. Truth. Truth. Truth. Full truth.
2. Let your spouse express their pain as often as they need.
3. Answer the same question 100 times.
4. Take it on the chin.
5. Acknowledge your actions as being incredibly painful and wrong.
6. Apologize often. Then, apologize more.
7. Break ALL ties with the affair partner.
8. Hold space for your loved one’s pain.
(Read next BLOG post on Why You’re Listening Wrong in Your Marriage)
If you are the wounding spouse and you want to save your marriage, you must take your roll as “the healer” immediately. For more information about creating repair after an infidelity and becoming a successful Marriage Rebuilder read: * How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair: A Compact Guild for the Unfaithful By: Linda MacDonald.