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5 Ways to Stop an Old Affair from Ruining Your Marriage

Infidelity doesn’t have to be the final straw in your marriage. With time to heal, lots of effort and these 5 tips, you can set things right again. By Lianne Choo

5 Ways to Stop an Old Affair from Ruining Your Marriage

Whether it was you or your spouse who was tempted and led astray, bouncing back from an affair will scar even the bravest of relationship soldiers. Nothing is worse than having to undergo the pain of realizing that the person whom you cared for the most in the world was cruel enough to violate the life that you built together.

More often than not, people who engage in affairs do not end up with their affair partner, but a stack of nasty divorce papers instead. If you’ve been cheated on and somehow found the strength to forgive your spouse for the transgressions and heartache that you had to go through, you must put some rules in place to keep what happened from ruining your marriage.

Putting a cheating scandal in the past is by no means an easy task. However, going through a divorce, explaining everything to the kids and trudging on through life without a person you love will definitely be a lot harder. This is exactly why you shouldn’t allow just one incidence of cheating from ruining a potentially successful marriage.

How to prevent an old affair from ruining your marriage

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you or your partner had an affair in the past and want to move on from the incident as a team.

#1 Do learn from your mistakes. Unless your spouse is a serial cheater that no amount of therapy can cure, you need to take some responsibility for what happened. Do not get us wrong. We do not mean that you have to blame yourself for what happened. Instead, acknowledge that marriage is a two-person job, and that perhaps there was something that you did or didn’t do that led your spouse to go astray.

Maybe you didn’t appreciate your partner the way you should have. Maybe you lashed out one too many times, and your significant other just needed to get away from you. Perhaps you were distracted and focused on something else other than your relationship. Maybe the passionate spark between the two of you faded away and you did nothing to reignite it. Perhaps you weren’t giving your loved one enough emotional support.

No matter the reason, you should take some time out and try to pinpoint the moment when you realized things changed for the worst. Once you are able to figure that out, both of you will be able to learn from the mistakes made, and hopefully never repeat them again. Keeping a marriage from falling apart after a cheating scandal takes plenty of time and work, so you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

[Read: 10 reasons why men still cheat on wonderful women]

[Read: 25 reasons why women cheat on their partners]

#2 Don’t dredge up the past if you can help it. Although the guilty party should rightfully feel horrible about what happened, you need to understand that piling on the guilt is not going to help save your marriage. It will put it on the fast track to doomsday.

Tell your spouse, “I can’t promise you that I will never bring this up again. I am only human. However, I can promise you that I will try my best.” Be sincere in your promise and make an effort to bite your tongue every time you want to bring up the incident and lash out at your spouse. Get it all out of your system before making the decision to move on as a team.

Whether you hash it out between the two of you or engage the help of a mediator such as a marriage counselor or a friend, talk about what happened as much as you want to at first, but get it all out of your system and never bring it all up again. Get as much closure as you need and close the case once you do.

#3 Do make an effort. Getting over a heartbreaking incident like finding out your spouse had an affair is not easy. Sure, it may be simple to walk away, but many choose to stay for multiple reasons that include kids, financial strains, or simply because they love their spouse and want to give it another try.

No matter your reasons for staying, you have to realize that it’s going to take effort, especially on your part. You may not have done the straying, but you still have to put in the effort to make the marriage work. Whether it is simply being civil to your spouse on a bad day, or making the conscious effort not to burn all his clothes, plenty of effort has to come into play if you want to stay married. [Read: The easiest way to get over trust issues in a relationship]

You probably think that your cheating spouse doesn’t deserve the respect that you are offering to them, but you have to be the bigger person in this awful scenario. You may not like hearing this, but they already feel bad enough as it is. There is no need to keep harping on the mistakes that they made, because sooner or later, they won’t be able to take it anymore, and may just end up being the one walking away. [Read: 17 sweetest ways to apologize to your partner]

#4 Don’t make comparisons. This piece of advice applies to all facets of your life. Once you choose to stay in your marriage even after a cheating scandal, you have to always remember never to make comparisons.

Do not compare what life was like before the incident. Do not compare yourself to the person your spouse cheated on you with. Do not compare your expectations with reality. Do not compare anything from your idyllic pre-infidelity life with the way things are now.

Sure, comparing the past to the present is a great way to improve and learn from the mistakes made, but comparing every little thing will undoubtedly make you focus too much on how hard it will be to set things right again.

#5 Do learn to forgive. This is perhaps the hardest piece of advice to take. You may never be able to forget what happened, but you should certainly learn to forgive. Without forgiveness, your marriage will never survive.

No matter how long, hard and bumpy the journey to forgiveness may be, you have to do it for the sake of your relationship. If you truly find that you are unable to let go of what happened, then it may be safer to say that you should walk away from your marriage.

Nothing, not even a marriage of steel, can take the pressure and weight of a cheating scandal if forgiveness is not a part of the picture. [Read: When should you forgive a cheating partner?]

There is no single way to erase the stain of infidelity in any marriage. But with a genuine effort to set things right and some time to allow yourselves to heal, you can reduce the blight of cheating to just another bump on your way to a happy lifelong marriage. 

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Gemma Hsieh
Born in Singapore and raised in Canada to multi-racial parents, Gemma is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the world,...
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