Over the past couple of years, my husband of eight years has been so involved with his work he has not been giving me the attention he had shown me earlier. I have become friendly with another man online who has suggested that if we keep our relationship a secret, then no-one needs to get hurt. What should I do?
The most often asked question on the website of Dr Willard F Harley, Jr, author of the internationally bestselling book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, is “How can I survive my spouse’s affair?” For all those individuals Harley has counselled who have experienced rape, physical abuse, sexual abuse of their children and infi- delity, they have consistently reported that their spouse’s unfaithfulness was their very worst experience.
The temptation to be unfaithful can be a reality for any marriage—just ask the 37 million users of AshleyMadison. com, whose confidential details were compromised when the online cheating site was hacked in July.
When couples are faced with an affair, several things need to happen for heal- ing to take place. Both partners need to accept that this is a couple-issue:
the state of their marriage is a shared concern, not just the responsibility of the husband or the wife. The partner pursuing another lover needs to cease all contact with the third person and then work through their grief over a lost relationship. There will need to be a shared commitment to openness and honesty between the husband and the wife and a willingness to work through the loss of trust.
The couple will need to expect and respect the ebb and flow of different emotions: anger, grief and confusion. They will need to give attention to their spare time, and time spent on the internet and phone. They will also do well to spend as much time together as possible and focus on the positives of their marriage rather than thinking of the negatives.
A strong and resilient marriage isn’t something a couple receives at their wedding along with all the other gifts. It takes time, energy and knowledge to get it right, and a very real commitment by both individuals to do everything they can to stay faithful. But it can be done! So many couples who have faced affairs have stayed in their marriages, worked through the tough issues, and come out the other side stronger and more in love than before, but many can’t do it on their own and have wisely sought professional assistance.
Don’t give up on your marriage when it can be all that you want it to be and more!