Over the years we have seen a growing number of couples that are seeking counseling to restore their marriage after an affair.  These have included both sexual and emotional affairs.  They have involved a past relationship that was recently discovered, a recent relationship, or relationships with several people outside the marriage over a period of time.  The emotional and relational devastation that any type of affair brings on a marriage is often very difficult to recover from.  However, we have seen many couples find restoration following an affair and actually going on to have a thriving marriage.

When it comes to deciding whether to seek restoration after an affair, one of the first things to look for is a brokenness and true desire to change on the part of the one who committed the affair.  They will need to understand that it will likely take a long time to restore trust with their partner.  They will need be able to sit patiently in the midst of their partners hurt and anger.   In order to restore trust, that person will need to have consistent behavioral change over time.  They will need to boldly search themselves to see if they potentially struggle with sexual addiction.  They will need to be fully honest in everything from this point on as there will be no room for any further deception, no matter how small.  If they can start with these first steps, there is great hope for potential healing in the marriage.

For those whose spouse was unfaithful, there is a period of grief that can involve a wide variety of emotions and a profound struggle to know what to do next.  Do you leave?  Do you stay?  Often there are feelings of being fooled.  Like you have no idea who the person you are married to is, regardless of how long you have been married.  To be direct, sometimes the next best step is divorce, especially if your partner is unrepentant or not willing to change.  Sometimes the best next step is a time of separation so that you can go through this grief process and regain new perspective on yourself and your marriage.  Both separation and/or divorce may be the best option for some, but we always encourage couples in this situation to first give restoration and healing a try, especially if the one who committed the affair has a true brokenness and willingness to change.

The process of restoration is not an easy journey, but it if your marriage has been shattered by an affair, there is hope.  Don’t get us wrong, we have seen some couples try restoration and still have their marriage end in divorce.  However, the majority of couples we have worked with have found a restored and refreshed marriage.  It doesn’t all have to be over.  If there is even a small level of brokenness and openness to change, a new foundation for a stronger, passionate marriage can be built.

For those looking for a book on this issue, the one resource that we recommend to couples to read is “Torn Asunder” by Dave Carder (http://www.tornasunder.org/).  For any questions please feel free to contact us at www.olivercounseling.com.