People have affairs for all kinds of reasons, depending on who they are and what’s going on in their lives. The important thing to remember is – it’s not true that their insufficient partner caused them to go to another for love, etc. It’s not their partner’s fault. Being dissatisfied with one’s partner is a legitimate experience, and being unfaithful is one option, but it often turns out badly for all concerned.
If you want to heal your marriage, the unfaithful partner has to deeply understand the amount of damage that has been done to trust, and they have to know what being betrayed by your life partner really feels like. Saying your sorry, even terribly, terribly sorry, and that you won’t ever do this again, isn’t enough. Once lied to, your partner has every reason to question what you are saying now. You have to demonstrate how sorry you really are, you have to show your partner how you have changed in tangible ways so that there is reason to believe what you are saying now. You have to hear what your partner needs from you in order to ever trust you again. Listening to what your betrayed partner wants from you and being very willing to do what ever you are asked is a demonstration of your truly being sorry.
There’s another piece to this problem – if someone has hurt you and you want to trust they won’t do it again, hurt-er the other has to understand why they did it. If they don’t fully understand why they acted this way, what’s to keep them from (having the same reasons and) doing it again? The unfaithful person needs to learn what motivated them to be unfaithful and make whatever changes are needed so they won’t want, or be motivated, to do this again.
This is a complicated process and takes courage on the part of both couples. The hurt-er has to be able to say what they were feeling, and have the courage to take the risk of saying it. Many people have affairs to escape the way they feel around their partner, Where they may feel: inferior, not loveable, criticized, or just tolerated. They need to feel the opposite of this and go to someone else to receive positive regard.
The hurt-ee has to have the courage to hear this truth and not collapse. They have to be willing now to work on the marriage and realize they have some changing to do as well as the hurt-er, but not collapse into feeling they caused the affair. They can not be put into a one-down position. Both people need to meet each other honestly and realize they both have work to do to turn their relationship around. Sometimes the hurt is over powering and the marriage ends. Sometimes the affair slips into the past as a wake up call to re-make the relationship into something better than it has ever been.