In today’s blog, Dr. Dana answers a question from Ed about his wife’s affair…
Question: “I recently found out that my wife is having an affair. I’m willing to forgive and move forward but she’s not sure she’s willing to stop seeing him. All the information I can find tells one how to survive an affair after the spouse comes back. How do I convince my wife to end her affair and give me and the kids another try?”
Answer: Dear Ed, This is probably one of the most painful positions to be in. I applaud your commitment to your marriage and family despite the pain of your wife’s affair. This is, of course, a complicated issue and difficult to answer briefly. So let me break it down as best I can.
1. Understand why she cheated. Was she unhappy in your marriage? Was she unhappy with herself? What was she looking for that she was not getting in her life? While these are painful conversations to have, it’s important to know this information because you cannot attempt to fix your marriage if you don’t know what was broken. Even if the conclusion is that there’s something going on with her, you can help your wife have the life she’s looking for while still staying married (i.e. more excitement, higher self esteem, gracefully growing older, appropriately coping with unresolved issues)
2. Provide your wife with information. Whether through self-help books, therapy or our Survive an Affair series, your wife needs some information. She needs to understand the addictive nature of affairs, the fact that, in reality, the grass is rarely greener and the real impact that ending her marriage will have on her life. This is likely information that she is unwilling to hear directly from you but it is vital for her to understand in order for her to make the best decision for her.
3. Be the best husband and man you can be. One of the biggest mistakes people can make after an affair is that they make most of their interactions with their spouse about the pain the betrayal is causing. This makes it incredibly difficult for your wife to see that she might be happier with you than with him. I recommend, instead, that you focus on being the best husband and father (based, in part, or her answers to question number 1) that you can be. While you’ll never be “new” again, try to remind her that you can be a loving, fun and interesting man. Guilt and shame aside, help her find a reason to come back to you and the life you shared together.
Have you been impacted by an affair? Please comment.
If you’re trying to survive an affair and make your spouse love you again, take advantage of Dr. Dana’s proven StrongMarriageNow System to help you along the way.
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com