The Healing Library > Articles > What the Wayward Spouse / Betrayed Spouse Must Do to Reconcile
What the Wayward Spouse / Betrayed Spouse Must Do to Reconcile
JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY!
How many times has that been said to you? If it has been said to you even once, then that is a big red flag! No one has the right to tell this to you. If it is your therapist telling you this, then you need a new therapist because obviously this one has no understanding of infidelity. If it is your spouse telling you this, then they have no understanding of the devastation that they have caused.
In order to "get over it", you and your spouse must be given the proper tools and a map. I do not feel that you can successfully navigate the road from infidelity towards healing without these two things.
You do not really "get over it"...you can move beyond it, but you will carry the scars for life as a reminder. You do not forget, but you can forgive...if and only if you and your spouse have the tools and the map.
The former cheating spouse has the biggest responsibility in the healing process. They hold the key for the healing of you and your marriage.
Your spouse must be willing to make it their mission in life to heal you...no matter how long it takes. They should not have to even ask you what you need to help you heal...they should seek professional advice from others and start implementing it immediately. Maybe down the road they will need to seek your own personal advice. You hold the timeline to your own healing.
They need to explain to the children, if they are old enough, that they have hurt you terribly and that they are doing everything to help you heal. They need to tell the children that it is not the children's fault or the betrayed spouses fault. If they see the betrayed spouse getting angry at the former cheating spouse, that this is normal and well deserved and part of healing. They are to be told that they are not to blame the betrayed spouse for their emotional outbursts toward the cheating spouse and that the betrayed spouse should be commended for being willing to give them another chance because they do not deserve it.
In order for your marriage to successfully survive these are some things that your spouse must do:
- He must be totally honest with you about everything
- He must answer every question that you ask truthfully and fully.
- He must do everything in his power to prove to you that you are the one that he wants to be with.
- He must prove his love to you...he must be patient, gentle, compassionate and understanding.
- He must feel your pain.
- He must fully understand the devastation that he caused you.
- He must accept full responsibility for his actions.
- He must stop all contact with OP and not try to protect them.
- He must reassure you that it is OK to ask questions.
- He must reassure you that you will not drive him away by doing the things that are necessary to heal.
- He must recognize when your struggling or experiencing a trigger and comfort you.
- He must be able to tell you how sorry he is and show you.
- He must re-enforce to you, that you are not responsible.
- He must put his own feelings of guilt and shame aside and help you heal first.
- He must reconnect emotionally, mentally, and physically with you and stay connected.
- He must work on rebuilding trust. No secrets. No privacy.
- He must be willing to seek counseling.
- He must learn what is and is not acceptable when communicating with the opposite sex...he must establish boundaries and not cross them.
Here is a list of things that you must do:
- Give him the necessary time to prove his love and commitment to you.
- Be open with your feelings.
- Ask the questions that are important to you.
- Don't be afraid that you will drive him away while you are trying to heal.
- Stop blaming yourself for his actions. You are in no way responsible...even if you are Attila the Hun!
- You must be able to let him connect with you. (this one takes time)
- You must continue checking up on him in order to let him rebuild trust.
- You must be willing to seek counseling so that you do not get stuck in one of the stages of recovery such as anger or depression.
These are just a few of the things that I have thought of off the top of my head. With these things in place, then reconciliation can be successful. It is still a long journey, but with baby steps it can be achieved. For me, with all these things in place it took about 1 1/2 years to get to a really comfortable place. Without a majority of these things, I do not see how reconciliation can be successful.
If you were to decide to climb Mt Everest and you looked in the phone book under expeditions and called a company and told them that you wanted to climb Mt Everest and they said great. Then you would ask them how to do it. If their reply was to "just get over it", then I am sure that you would call some other company. You would know that it would require the proper tools and a map and a team approach. Well, you are facing a mountain that you need and want to climb. You cannot "just get over it". It doesn't happen that way. It will take the proper tools and a map and team work.
The majority of the things that I mentioned must take place from BOTH spouses before a successful reconciliation takes place. I am also only addressing reconciliation here, however the betrayed spouse has other options. If your spouse is doing EVERYTHING that has been recommended by the therapist to help you heal and you have made NO progress after say 1 year, then the betrayed spouse probably needs a new therapist who can help her better evaluate the situation and help her to start giving her spouse credit for what he is doing or come up with other options rather than reconciliation. Some betrayed spouses cannot reconcile no matter what their spouse does, but they may need therapy to move beyond the infidelity anyway.
If after 6 mos, the betrayed spouse has NOT progressed and the former cheating spouse is NOT doing his part, then there is no reason to expect any progress from the betrayed spouse toward reconciliation. Each person has a role in the reconciliation process...including knowing when enough is enough. I would never expect a former cheating spouse to be able to hang in there after 1 1/2 to 2 years of doing EVERYTHING recommended and seeing NO progress from the BS. I would also never expect a betrayed spouse to hang on for years if her spouse is doing NOTHING to help her heal.
I believe that forgiveness is independent of the cheater helping you heal. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself...not the other person.
In the early stages the former cheater needs to find out from professionals what to do to help you heal. The wounded spouse is often in no condition to be able to know this in the beginning. Once the wounded spouse is down the road towards recovery, then they will be able to fine tune what is needed, but initially...no way.