by Dr. Jay Lindsay
Several days earlier, Michelle had admitted to her husband, Tom, that she was having an extramarital affair. The affair was with an old boyfriend who had contacted her on Facebook.
Tom was devastated by Michelle’s revelation and now he was threatening to leave her.
Michelle was frantic. “I love Tom and I don’t want to lose him!” she sobbed. “I’ve made a terrible mistake. How can I get him to stay?”
Below are seven insights and tips that I as an affair recovery specialist shared with Michele over the phone that helped save her marriage. They all have to do with recognizing the needs of a betrayed spouse.
If you’ve been having an affair, physical or emotional, these insights and tips will help you. However, please understand that they are not a substitute for seeking qualified professional help for your marriage.
1. Insight: Your spouse needs you to terminate your affair immediately.
Tip: End it now, once and for all.
Do it by phone rather than in person. Ask your spouse to join you on the extension. Say, “It’s over. Don’t ever contact me again.” Be firm and final.
Perhaps your affair was with a co-worker and you can’t quit your job. If so, then interact only when you must for business purposes. Prohibit any personal conversation.
2. Insight: Your spouse needs you to give strong reassurances of your love and commitment.
Tip: Tell your spouse that you love him/her and that you are in the marriage to stay.
Be emphatic. Let your spouse know that he/she matters to you far more than does your affair partner.
Tell your spouse that you are willing to do whatever it takes to save your marriage.
3. Insight: Your spouse needs you to take full responsibility for your affair.
Tip: Do not blame your spouse, even if he/she was not meeting important needs for you.
There are other things you could have done about your unmet needs, like asking your spouse to join you in couple therapy.
Your infidelity was your choice and your choice alone.
4. Insight: Your spouse needs you to acknowledge the impact of your affair on him/her.
Tip: Do not minimize your affair.
Don’t say, “It was nothing to me, so get over it.”
Even if your affair now means little to you, to your spouse it is a major betrayal. It’s rocked his/her world.
5. Insight: Your spouse needs you to listen to his/her feelings.
Tip: Encourage your partner to talk about the pain.
Remember, your spouse is severely traumatized. He/she may need to talk about the pain many times. That’s the way trauma gets healed.
As hard as it is, listen to your partner’s agony. Respond with heartfelt sorrow.
6. Insight: Your spouse needs to know what happened.
Tip: Answer your spouse’s questions truthfully.
There are things he/she needs to know in order to make sense of your affair.
So answer your spouse’s questions, but not all at once. Instead, share your answers over a few conversations. Respond to the easier questions first and the tougher ones later.
Avoid answering questions about romantic and sexual details. Answering these questions could deepen your partner’s trauma and get in the way of the healing process.
7. Insight: Your spouse needs you to make every effort to understand how and why your affair happened.
If you don’t do this, then he/she will fear that you could easily have another affair. You really do need to understand how and why your affair occurred so that you’ll be more affair resistant in the future.
Tip: Do an online search for information about the many factors that can contribute to a person choosing to have an affair.
Keep in mind that understanding your affair is not the same thing as excusing it.
Michele saw that these insights and tips would be helpful, but she knew that she and Tom needed more. After our phone conversation, Michelle pleaded with Tom to give their marriage a chance. She asked him to fly with her to Colorado to participate in my Affair Recovery Program in the three or four-day intensive format.
I developed this highly effective program over the past 30 years. It’s based on seven stages I have discovered that a couple must move through in order to heal from infidelity.
I offer my Affair Recovery Program privately in an intensive format. In the latter, which is for couples who want quick results, I work with a couple for five or more hours per day for two to four days.
Tom accepted her invitation, even though he was close to leaving her.
For three days I worked with Tom and Michelle in a highly focused way. They connected with each other more deeply than ever before.
By the end of the intensive, Tom had agreed to keep working on the marriage. Also, he and Michele had made a strong start in the affair recovery process.
After they returned to San Francisco, I kept in touch. Now, three months later, they are closer than they’ve ever been.
In a recent phone conversation, Michelle said to me: “Flying to Colorado to participate in your Affair Recovery Program was the right decision. Our marriage was on the brink of divorce. Without quick intervention, it could easily have gone over the edge.”
She added that the intensive format gave them the concentrated, uninterrupted time they needed to pull their marriage back from the brink and turn it around.
If you’ve been having an affair, physical or emotional, and you want to save your marriage, implement the seven insights and tips in this article. Also, find qualified professional help. There’s hope for your marriage!
To find out more about my Affair Recovery Program, click here or call me at (720) 307-5635 and schedule an appointment.
Click here to read more articles by Dr. Jay Lindsay.
The contents of this article are the property of Dr. Jay Lindsay and further reproduction is given through written permission only.
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Master couples therapist and psychologist Dr. Jay Lindsay utilizes Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), one of the most researched and effective approaches to marital therapy. Based in Louisville, (near Boulder) Colorado, Dr. Lindsay is a marriage counselor who is sought after by couples from all across the country. He can be reached at (720) 307-5635.