Updated: Sep 17
BONUS PUBLICATION - BLUEPRINT TO RECONCILIATION AFTER INFIDELITY
In this article:
There are 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity and I want to help you steer clear of them! There is an art to affair recovery that can make a relationship stronger.
It takes time, effort, and a lot of patience. The process is often complicated by the emotional turmoil that accompanies infidelity recovery.
If you're considering reconciliation with your unfaithful spouse or partner there are some common marriage reconciliation mistakes you'll want to avoid.
10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes to Avoid after Infidelity
You both know your relationship has been forever changed, and it's make-or-break time. Raw emotions and a lack of control will make affair recovery impossible. It's traumatic and can cause our focus to drift off of what's essential in our lives and onto unhealthy things, like obsessing about the affair partner.
Few things smart more than having your heart broken. When it happens because of infidelity, there are layers of complexity added to the wound.
We're human, and our emotions are hardwired into our brains. While we can't stop how we feel, we certainly have control over how we act in response to our feelings.
The following are the most common marriage reconciliation mistakes that prevent couples from solving their problems.
No attempts to regulate intense emotions
Anger is a normal emotion hardwired into our brains. Acting out because of it will kill any hope of successful affair recovery. Now is the time to take a hard look at your emotional regulation skills. If you have a history of explosive anger, it isn't going to be easy. Physical and verbal assault will kill successful reconciliation faster than any other mistake.
Passive aggressive and stonewalling behavior are also forms of hostility that will make it affair recovery hard. Each of us has control over what we say and how we behave toward our partners. If you're having difficulty resisting the urge to act out, you should seriously consider putting physical distance between you until you're able to calm down.
Not creating a shared and realistic reconciliation plan together
If you're affair recovery plan doesn't involve both partners sharing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas about what happened, it's likely doomed to fail. If you or your partner are averse to affair recovery counseling, you'll have difficulty addressing the root cause of the affair without the structure of an emotional affair recovery plan. More importantly, you'll miss an opportunity to turn the pain of the affair into a pillar of strength upon which to build the future.
The cheating partner often finds it difficult to strike a balance between giving too much and too little information. The cheated upon may ask no questions or try to get every detail. These conundrums lead couples to toxic behavior withholding, lying, or deflection - all killers of emotional affair recovery. Affair recovery counseling will help the cheating partner take accountability in a meaningful way and strike a balance out of empathy and compassion for their partner.
When a couple faces intense feelings together they are able to better regulate their emotions; acting out is a protest of the affair and how hurt the cheated upon feels. The cheater listening to the heartbreak of the person the hurt for understanding and support tends to diffuse the explosive behavior.
Avoiding conversations about the affair
An extramarital affair leaves a lot of hurt, anger, shame, and resentment in its wake - and often, all of these emotions are directed at the affair partner. In order for affair recovery to be successful, both partners need to work together to create a shared understanding of what happened.
This means being honest about what led to the affair, taking responsibility for their own actions, and working together on the emotional affair recovery plan. Without this level of communication and collaboration, it's very difficult to rebuild trust and move on from an affair.
People who try to avoid talking about the affair altogether think that if they don't bring it up, their partner will eventually forget about it. Not only is it nearly impossible to keep an affair a secret (especially if there are kids involved), but avoidance will only make the healing process that much harder. Sweeping the affair under the rug will only create more secrets and resentment, both of which will damage your relationship even further.
Affairs are never the fault of the cheated upon and they don't happen in a vacuum. The behavior is the cheater's way of coping with an unhealthy dynamic in their life. While an affair is never acceptable it's important in affair recovery for the couple to uncover together what made the cheater to cross the line.
Blame is an emotional affair recovery killer; affair recovery counseling will create a blame-free zone to ensure the toxic root is pulled forever.
Bringing others into the situation
A discovered affair is indeed a "situation" partners find themselves in. Going back to emotional regulation, sometimes it makes us "feel better" to tell our sisters or best friends that an affair has occurred and all the reasons why the other partner is the worst human being who ever walked the planet. Droning on to coworkers and our mother-in-law is cathartic in the short term but damaging in the long run.
It's difficult to rebuild trust when one or both partners is busy trashing the relationship to anyone who will listen. Some people badmouth their partner to their friends and family. Not only is this incredibly hurtful, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for how the relationship will continue moving forward. If one person is trying to "win" and the other is trying to "lose," there's not much hope for a healthy future together.
It is wrong to bring any child into the situation. It is confusing, hurtful, and puts the kid(s) in an impossible situation. For better or worse, children will see one parent as a hero and the other parent as the villain if they are brought into the affair recovery process.
It's essential to be selective about who you confide in. Telling your story to too many people can make it harder to recover from an affair, making it more difficult to move on. If you need to talk about the affair, find an affair recovery counselor and get individual support. Affair recovery can include individual counseling for you and your partner.
Using social media to stalk and vent
I always say this to my couples - social media is the devil. Social media adds zero value to a relationship and is a slippery slope. It's way too easy for someone's boyfriend from middle school to track them down to "catch up." Before they know it, the two are convinced their backyards touching as kids were "fate" and that they should meet up. It all starts out innocent until it's not.
If you want to create a trusting space between you while following through on your affair recovery plan, social media will work against you. If someone has something to hide, they will find a way to do it on social media. Venting and stalking your partner on social media is just as damaging to the relationship and creates an environment of mistrust.
If you're having difficulty moving on from an affair, get rid of social media for a while - or at least put some serious boundaries around it.
Not responding to your partner's needs
During this difficult time, it's important to remember that your partner is also grieving and trying to come to terms with what has happened. It's natural to want to focus on your own pain and hurt, but it's crucial that you also take the time to listen to your partner and support their healing journey. Ignoring their needs will only make the affair recovery process more difficult for both of you.
It's important to find a balance between taking care of yourself and focusing on the relationship. If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to your partner about it and lean into the affair recovery plan. Allowing your partner to support you after an emotional flare-up reinforces the repair while validating strong feelings.
The structure affair recovery counseling creates around communication allows the couple to connect through the conflict flareup causes. Communicate openly and honestly with each other, or take some time apart to focus on your individual healing. Whatever you do, ensure you are both on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Allowing paranoia or jealousy rule
Paranoia and jealousy are only natural after an affair, but they are not healthy. Obsessing your partner and their every move will increase stress, leading to racing thoughts and acting out behavior. If you're feeling paranoid or jealous, try to take a step back and assess the situation. Just because they made one mistake doesn't mean they will make the same mistake twice.
Being overly possessive is not helpful and is one of the most damaging common marriage reconciliation mistakes. Putting parental controls on your internet to prevent pornography or secret trackers on search history is not a sign the relationship is moving in a healing direction. Dealing with paranoia should be part of the affair recovery plan, so everyone knows what to do when the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. An affair recovery plan teaches couples to openly discuss their feelings with their partner. Tell them why you're feeling paranoid and give them a chance to reassure you.
Avoid snooping! It will only worsen if you're constantly checking up on your partner. Trust is a two-way street, so give them the same trust you expect. Turn your focus to yourself. During this challenging time, it's important to focus on your own healing and well-being. Don't try to control everything, as it will only lead to more stress. Take some time for yourself and do things that make you happy.
Avoiding hard conversations because everything is "going so well"
Our brain helps us remember the most emotionally important things so that we can recall the most joyous and painful things in our lives. Our emotions tell us how to respond to a situation; the brain will want to repeat joy and avoid pain. It seems counterproductive to rock the boat when it feels calm and somewhat familiar.
Couples need to have hard conversations to move through the pain caused by an affair. It is not helpful or healthy to avoid talking about what happened. This will only create more distance and resentment. You need to be able to talk about what happened, why it happened, and how you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
A relationship after an affair will never be the same as before, but that doesn't mean it can't be better. You can overcome anything if you're both committed to the relationship and willing to put in the hard work. Just remember to take things one day at a time, communicate openly and honestly with each other, and focus on rebuilding trust.
Making significant decisions
Partners who find themselves victims of infidelity often react immediately with rash decisions that will affect their future without thinking things through. These decisions are usually made in the heat of the moment and can include anything from leaving the relationship to hiring a lawyer. People often express regret for acting too quickly after an affair is discovered.
It's essential to avoid making any major decisions until you've had time to calm down and think things through. Once you've had time to process what happened, you can start planning how to move forward. You'll need to decide if you're willing to forgive and forget or if you want to end the relationship. If you decide to stay in the relationship, you'll need to work on rebuilding trust. This will require time, patience, and understanding from both parties involved.
If you have children, it's important to consider their needs as well. They didn't ask for this to happen and they shouldn't have to suffer because of the decisions you make. Kids should never be forced to deal with adult issues and kneejerk reactions can cause kids a great deal of turbulence. With time and patience, you'll be able to make the best decision for everyone involved.
Don't neglect yourself
This is a difficult time for everyone involved and it's important to give yourselves time to heal. Ensure you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. These things will help reduce stress and improve your overall mood. Talking to someone who can offer impartial advice, such as a counselor, is also important. They can help you work through your emotions and determine how to best deal with the situation.
If you're the cheated upon, do your best not to internalize the affair. Here is something to remember: that's on your partner, not you. You are not to blame in any way, shape, or form. Don't waste your emotional energy on taking any blame. If you're the cheater, this is your chance to be a better person. Both of you must take time to independently reflect on how you can grow to become the best version of yourself through a painful time.
What that means is that you don't slip into the victim mentality and let your guard down in front of the kids, or make backhanded comments, or turn into a person you swore you'd never be. Take your focus off of the affair partner and focus on you. Bring your best self to the affair recovery process by taking time out for yourself. Walk regularly, take bubble baths, go golfing, read books. This is a time for you to hit the reset button and reconnect with who you are and what you want out of life.
Successful Affair Recovery
An affair can be a devastating experience, but it doesn't have to end your relationship. If you're willing to work through the pain and rebuild trust, you can come out of this stronger than ever. Just remember to take things one day at a time, communicate openly and honestly with each other, and focus on rebuilding trust. And don't forget to take care of yourselves during this difficult time.
Set yourselves up for success. Emotions are intense - anger, fear, hurt, betrayal, shame. These are the most common marriage reconciliation mistakes and will derail progress and make it harder to forgive. If you are determined to save your relationship, talk to a couples counselor to find out what an affair recovery plan may look like for you.