So your husband or wife has cheated. Or maybe you’re the one who has been unfaithful. Either way, you’ve decided to see whether your marriage can be saved. That endeavor—saving a marriage after infidelity—is a big one that is rife with challenges. Nonetheless, it can be done. You’ll do it much faster and easier if you can avoid these marriage reconciliation mistakes that people often make following an extramarital affair.
1. Not showing the golden duo. The golden duo is remorse and empathy, and they must be exhibited in abundance by the unfaithful spouse in the wake of the affair.
2. Maintaining contact with the affair partner. This can be tricky when it comes to co-worker affairs, but measures that are both realistic and strict must be immediately taken.
3. Not being transparent. It’s important to have an open-phone policy where you share passwords to your devices and online accounts.
Remember – those who have nothing to hide hide nothing
4. Making big decisions too soon. This isn’t the time to make emotion-based decisions. This is the time to use your head, not just your heart, when it comes to deciding whether to leave the marriage or work on it.
5. Having sex too soon. Couples struggling to rebuild after an affair often want to return to a state of normalcy as quickly as possible, but having sex too soon as a way to “reclaim one’s territory” or return to normalcy can backfire.
6. Insisting on too many details. Saying (or screaming) “Tell me everything!” can complicate matters for both the betrayed spouse and the one who has broken trust in some way. The details of the affair must be handled with more care and forethought.
7. Withholding information. Infidelity is scary for both the injured spouse and the one who has strayed from the marriage, but withholding information—at least certain information—from the betrayed spouse may not be the right approach.
8. Contacting the affair partner. A betrayed spouse may reach out to the affair partner for any number of reasons: however, it’s (almost) always the wrong thing to do.
9. Taking bad advice. Both spouses may feel alone, confused, and unsupported. But turning to the wrong people and getting bad advice can make things a lot worse.
And the biggest mistake of all:
10. Ignoring red flags, including manipulative behavior. This is perhaps the biggest mistake that a betrayed spouse can make. Again, spouses facing an infidelity want things to feel “normal” again soon. Unfortunately, this can lead some betrayed spouses to willfully ignore their unfaithful partner’s ongoing uncooperative or untrustworthy behavior, from a lack of remorse to a lack of transparency, hoping things will get better on their own. They rarely do. And there’s no point “fixing” a marriage only to have it break again at the slightest thing.
Of course, there are no guaranteed ways to save a marriage after infidelity. There are, however, certain behaviors that are pretty much guaranteed to sink it, and these ten mistakes fall into that category. They definitely aren’t alone in that category—people make all kinds of mistakes for all kinds of reasons after an affair is discovered—but they’re common nonetheless.
Who’s making the mistakes? You or your spouse?
If you’re navigating infidelity in your marriage and are having trouble avoiding these mistakes or others—whether you personally can’t seem to avoid them or you can’t get your spouse to stop making them—my specialized Marriage SOS™ online crash courses for infidelity can help, starting right now.
Debra Macleod, BA, JD, is the creator of Marriage SOS™. She has served as an expert resource for major media around the world, from The New York Times and Entrepreneur to ELLE and Men’s Health magazine.