JUMP TO A INDEX:
Well, as I’ve said before, that’s a decision only you can make. However, here are 10 key questions to help you get some clarity in your thinking.
How to Use These Questions
Grab a pen and paper and answer yes or no to the following questions. The more sincere yes answers you can give, the better I believe your chances will be for an effective reconciliation. The more no answers, the more difficult your reconciliation process might be.
When Divorce Becomes A Serious Consideration 5 Red Flags
The affair is just the final straw. In other words, it’s just another example in a long line of hurtful, immature, or irresponsible behavior. Your marriage was unhealthy before the affair, and the affair confirms what both of you already knew: this marriage just isn’t right for either partner.
It’s for the children. Yes, divorce is hard on children. But what’s even harder on children is growing up watching their parents fight, hate, and behave irresponsibly toward each other. If you’re unable to forgive each other, then it might be more loving to spare your children from growing up in a home filled with low-grade misery and unhappiness.
Emotional transference. This is when the affair goes way beyond a fling and all the way into love. Even if it’s painful to admit, if you know deep down in your heart that your feelings have transferred to the affair partner, please admit it. You deserve to be with the person you truly want to be with (and with a person who truly wants to be with you), and so does your spouse.
Abuse of any kind. Whether it’s emotional, verbal, physical, or substance abuse, none is acceptable. If you’re facing this situation, get help right away. I urge you to make plans to remove yourself to safety. No one deserves to be abused. Your happiness isn’t worth sacrificing for the sake of being in a relationship.
Your partner refuses to get help, to grow, to make an effort. Marriage is a people-growing machine. It takes effort from BOTH partners. If one partner is stubborn and refuses to grow, that limits the other partner and it limits the relationship. Relationships that aren’t growing are stagnating. If you’re in a relationship with someone who refuses to try, chances are, you’re the only one who wants to be there anyway.
How Do You Feel About Divorce?
How a person feels about divorce can have a lot to do with cultural conditioning. In many cultures, the word “divorce” is like the word “cancer” — it comes with a lot of hidden stigmas.
- In many Latin American cultures, divorce is strongly associated with loss of value, a sense of inadequacy, or diminishment of some kind. Therefore, in many Latin American cultures, divorce isn’t only a bad thing — it’s a personal disgrace.
- In certain parts of Asia (China, for example), divorce is attached to shame. Therefore, many Asian wives would put up with unspeakable acts of betrayal rather than seek a divorce because in their culture, divorce equals dishonor.
- In our own highly competitive Western culture, divorce is often linked to losing. Because of this, many Americans would rather stick it out than be seen as someone who failed.
But is any of this true?
Does divorce really signal failure? Is it really a symbol of personal disgrace? Does it really mean dishonor? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced that divorce means any of those things. I think the question that bears asking isn’t so much what divorce means to you, but more importantly, what does marriagemean to you?
Here’s why: The meaning you give to marriage has a lot to do with the meaning you attach to divorce.
If you believe that marriage is about getting needs met, then divorce would signal failure… the failure to get those needs met successfully.
If you view marriage as a status builder, then divorce would signal dishonor… the loss of the status and approval gained in marriage.
If you view marriage as proof of worth or individual validation, then divorce would signify disgrace… the loss of that specialness.
If you view marriage as a growing opportunity, then I believe your entire perspective on divorce will shift. Rather than seeing conflicts as problems, you see them as lessons. Rather than seeing divorce as disgrace, dishonor, or defeat, you can look at it more as a graduation… evidence of completion… moving on from relationship lessons learned.
However, before you write off any marriage, consider this…
It takes just as much energy to rebuild as it does to divorce. So please don’t jump into divorce thinking it’s going to be a faster route to pain relief (because it isn’t).
You might trade partners, but you don’t trade problems.
Certain problems are universal in all marriages and relationships. For example, communication, honesty, intimacy, boredom, and conflict. If you don’t learn how to deal with these issues in this relationship, then you will have to face them in the next.
If you don’t forgive, you bring that baggage to the next relationship.
Here’s the thing: forgiveness is for YOU. It frees YOU from the past. Whether you decide to rebuild or divorce, you need to forgive.
Pride is always shortsighted.
When your world gets rocked by infidelity, wounded pride is often the biggest obstacle to overcome. It’s important not to let your pride guide you or make decisions for you, because pride is blind.
And perhaps most importantly, you should know… couples who get counseling, coaching, or support during an infidelity crisis do better (emotionally, mentally, and physically) over the long run.
Am I saying that marriage counseling prevents divorce?
The accurate answer to that question is NO. Marriage counseling doesn’t save marriages. However, counseling can give couples the tools to save their own marriages.
Here are some things to consider.
Rebuilding may be right for you if:
- Minus the affair, you believe the relationship is worth fighting for.
- Deception, lies, and secrecy were not the norm for your relationship.
- Although you might not have had a perfect marriage, you thought that (overall) things were going well.
- You believe you can both learn and grow from this.
- The wayward partner is demonstrating sincere willingness to learn from this experience.
- The betrayed partner (although hurt) is willing to learn how to forgive and willing to fight for the marriage.
And perhaps the biggest thing to consider:
You’ll want to consider rebuilding if… although your heart feels like it’s been kicked, stomped on, hurt, bruised, and run over backwards and forwards by a Mac truck… the love you feel for your partner refuses to die.
What’s the bottom line here?
LOVE is the greatest motivator for rebuilding a broken relationship. This means that underneath the pain, the hurt, the anger, the rage, the fear, and defensiveness, you still sense there’s something here worth fighting for.
It’s important to know:
It takes ONE loving partner to save a marriage but TWO to rebuild a better marriage. You both have to CHOOSE love above other choices like pride, anger, bitterness, and stubbornness. Because in the end, only love can bridge the gap left in the wake of infidelity. If you believe you have the kind of love it takes to rebuild your marriage after infidelity…
Here are six more things to consider:
- Better means different. If you rebuild following the same blueprint for marriage that got you where you are today, then nothing will change. The key to rebuilding a stronger marriage after infidelity is to let the past be a teacher, but NOT a blueprint for the future.
- The marriage-by-default approach must be thrown out the window. A successful marriage is designed by both partners so that it matches their desires. Just as couples are customizing their wedding vows, partners must learn how to customize their marriage, so neither one feels the need to reach beyond it.
- Rebuilding is a process… but it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. The secret is to make it a learning experience, so it becomes a journey that brings you closer together.
- Forgiveness is job number one. Trying to rebuild without embracing true forgiveness is like trying to run before you learn to walk — it just won’t work.
- Rebuilding is a three-step process: (1) forgiveness; (2) rebuilding trust; followed by (3) repairing intimacy. Failure to do all three (in the right order) leads couples in circles.
- More rebuilding efforts fail due to the lack of an effective strategy rather than the lack of desire and effort. Unfortunately, once couples decide they’d like to rebuild, they often find themselves at a loss of what to do and how to do it.
At this point, couples make one of two choices.
Either they seek professional help, or they go at it alone.
The bad news:
I’d love to tell you that most couples opt for professional advice. Alas, that’s usually not the case. What is closer to the norm is that most couples choose the DIY (do-it-yourself) road to recovery and reconciliation. There’s nothing wrong with that route. We live in a country built on belief in self-help and self-reliance.
Personally, I admire that approach.
However, when it comes to rebuilding a marriage after infidelity, that road can be particularly frustrating because it usually ends up being the long way over the mountain. Why? For the same reason you wouldn’t want to rebuild your own home if you had no experience rebuilding homes. Of course, trial and error is fine if you have the time, patience, and energy to go the long way.
The good news?
There’s a more direct route. There’s a smarter way to go. And with your permission, I’d like to take a minute to tell you about one of the more direct paths you can take to rebuild (an even stronger marriage) after infidelity.
Let’s talk about that path next…
Let's Talk About My Home Study Course for Couples
Well, this course doesn’t use the traditional marriage counseling approach.
Rather than using passive “talk therapy”, my Happiness After Infidelity home study marriage course is a totally immersive, active learning and skill-building program based on my own unique methods that have proven effective during my 15+ years of doing affair recovery work with my private clients.
As you go through the course, you each will learn to:
- Practice the art of True Forgiveness
- Finally allow the past to be over, so there’s nothing blocking the Love you have for each other
- Live transparently with each other
- Embrace radical honesty in your marriage
- Use my Trust Building Blueprint so you’re able to restore trust and integrity back into your relationship
- Redesign your relationship rules
- Prevent any future problems by knowing how to recognize (and effectively disarm) the many different kinds of extramarital temptations
- Recreate and sustain intimacy and sexual happiness in your relationship
- Use the Power of Passionate Monogamy and my best kept secrets for keeping monogamy fresh, sweet, and endlessly romantic, and to arm you with the type of relationship insights that will transform the average marriage into a passionate one
The best part?
You never have to leave your home to participate and benefit from this life transforming information! That’s because it’s all available to you online — ready to access from your phone, tablet of computer… from anywhere in the world.
Is my Happiness After Infidelity marriage rebuilding course right for you?
Well, I have to admit, it isn’t right for every couple.
It’s not a quick fix. It’s not a magic bullet. And it’s not a substitute for clinical or medical treatment.
But what it can do… is shorten the timeline from where you are today to where you want to be.
Which brings us to an important point.
When infidelity has rocked your relationship, you basically have two options.
You can stay, or you can walk away.
What are the differences between marriages that end from those that rebuild?
I believe the biggest differences can be summed up in just two words: LOVE and WILLINGNESS. And here’s why.
You’ll need Love because:
- Only Love can inspire forgiveness (nothing else has the power to overlook betrayal).
- Only the memory of Love can inspire the desire to Love again.
- Only Love gives a hurt partner the courage to run towards the marriage rather than run away.
- Only Love has the power to restore trust, rekindle romance, and help you get past the hurt.
I believe it’s because of the power of love why the Chinese characters for the word “crisis” represents both danger and the possibility of turning that danger toward the better.
Because… WITH LOVE, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
The other thing you’ll need is willingness.
To understand why willingness is so important, it helps to understand what happens when willingness is absent.
What is the absence or opposite of willingness?
I’m convinced that resistance (lack of willingness) is at the root of most arguments, conflicts, and power struggles. And I’m not alone in this belief. I think if we were to poll 1000 counselors, life coaches, therapists, and psychologists and ask them what they think is the biggest obstacle their clients face, I believe at least 900 of them would agree that it’s “resistance”.
- Resistance to facing reality… is what leads to delusions.
- Resistance to love… is what creates fear.
- Resistance to forgiving… is what creates resentment.
- Resistance to letting go… is what creates obsessions, phobias, and addictions.
- Resistance to being present… is what creates boredom and restlessness.
On the other hand…
Willingness brings us exactly the opposite results.
- Willingness to face reality… is what allows us to be honest.
- Willingness to love… is what releases us from fear.
- Willingness to let go… is what gives us freedom.
- Willingness to “live in the present”… is what banishes boredom.
- And willingness to accept the things we cannot change… is what allows us to be happy.
But here’s the best thing about willingness.
It’s a lot like peanut butter: just a little goes a long way. In the beginning, you don’t have to feel a whole lot of willingness to save a marriage. Even a tiny amount (about the size of a mustard seed) is enough to move the highest mountain.
Here’s the beautiful truth:
The choice to rebuild is risky, but it doesn’t have to be a gamble if you have even a teaspoon of willingness in your mind and even the tiniest spark of love in your heart.
How can I be so sure?
- Because love is not a feeling… it’s a choice. If you made it once, then you can choose to make it again.
- Because the same love that brought you together in the beginning can bring you back together in the end.
- Because forgiveness is not a divine experience… it’s a human ability.
- And because nothing (I mean nothing) is impossible to a willing heart.
Is rebuilding really a matter of love and willingness?
Yes. How could it not be? If you don’t believe me, then consider the opposite.
Without love, what would motivate a betrayed partner to forgive? (Truly forgive, that is.) Without love, what would inspire compassion? Understanding? Trust? And without willingness to change… willingness to stand in the storm… willingness to learn from mistakes… how could any wayward partner be trustworthy again?
The reality is, none of that would be possible. That’s why love and willingness are the two keys that unlock the door to rebuilding a stronger marriage after infidelity.
So, where do you go from here?
Will you eventually get divorced because of what’s happened, or will you choose to start again and rebuild?
As I said at the very start of this article… only you can make that decision.
My hope and prayer is that I’ve given you enough to think about to help you make the decision that’s truly right for you.
However, here’s part of what I know…
Regardless of which path you decide to take, you’re going to be okay.
Why do I believe this?
Because I know there’s a place inside of you that is stronger than anything outside you.
Tap into that place and let it guide you back home.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!