Infidelity: Four Ways to Move Past a Marital Affair Together


Couple walkingJack and Jill had been married for over 10 years. They had two very busy children. Between work and parenting, they began to feel like they were leading parallel lives.

As the demands of work and home-life continued, they began to argue over finances, chores, and sex. Jill felt taken for granted, Jack felt abandoned. As his loneliness grew, he withdrew more and more.

A colleague of Jill’s became a supportive ear. She began to confide in him things she used to tell Jack, things she had never told anyone. Before she realized it, she was having an affair.

Closing the Window to Your Affair and Re-Opening it to Your Partner

When Jack found out Jill was committing adultery, he was devastated. Jill searched her soul and realized she could not leave her spouse and did not want to have her children living in two separate homes. Jack and Jill entered therapy.

The first step in moving past the affair was making the decision to end it. Jill stopped confiding in her work colleague and re-established boundaries with him. She also began looking for another job at Jack’s request.

Atonement: Taking Responsibility

Jill wanted to make her marriage work. In discussions with her therapist, she realized that atoning for what she had done was the second step she had to take in rebuilding the trust in her relationship.

Jack wanted her ex-lover out of her life completely. She agreed to start looking for another job. Jill realized she could not continue to work with her ex-lover while she looked for a job and requested a transfer to another work area. Fortunately, her boss agreed and she stopped having any contact with her ex-lover whatsoever.

Attunement: Are you really there for me?

Understandably, Jack was hurt. He felt rejected, abandoned, angry, and a myriad of other emotions that came at times with seemingly no warning. She and her psychologist talked about ways she could be there for Jack. Although it was really hard, Jill tried to be aware of what Jack was feeling, tried to understand and empathize with him, and worked hard at being there to support him–even during his anger.

Re-creating Loyalty and Trust

The fourth way Jack and Jill moved past the affair was to re-create a sense of loyalty and trust. It wasn’t easy. They talked with their psychologist about ways they had been loyal and trustworthy in the past and identified meaningly ways Jill could demonstrate her love, loyalty and trustworthiness with Jack again.

Jack and Jill focused on turning towards each other and re-creating connection. They began to work out issues around their workloads, chores, parenting, intimacy, and conflict. Eventually, their marriage was better than it had ever been before.

How about you? What’s helped you re-build your relationship after an affair? Are you looking for ways to re-build?

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