Moving on after a spouse's infidelity

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In the best scenario, you’ve decided to reconcile and rebuild your shattered marriage. Together or alone, though, the collateral damage has to be cleaned up, and that’s an inside job, as well as a public one.

An affair destroys lives on so many levels; your trust, your family, your reputation, your self-image, your sense of security. How you’ve mutually decided to deal with your situation (reconciliation, divorce, separation) will influence what you need to do in order to set your new lives in motion.

If staying together, you need to discuss things openly and calmly, preferably with the help of a counselor or support group. There will be massive changes needed in how you ‘are’ together if lasting change is to be made.

If separated, each of you should do as much ‘inner’ work as possible, so that you can deal with you own issues (in addition to your marital ones). In the event you decide to get back together and give it another try, you will be better prepared to handle the upcoming challenges.

Should you decide on divorce, the entire ordeal of splitting up your lives (the assets, the family unit, your entity both legal and social) will take tremendous grief work, healing, introspection, redesign and support from friends, church or professional counselors. The one who decided to make the split legal will be somewhat more empowered, because we all like some illusion of control in our lives, and it’s less hurtful to leave than be the one left. An illusion though is just that. If there’s a way to save you marriage after the affair, it’s usually the better option. A breakup is tough on both of you though.

Getting spiritual help and guidance can be a life-saver. Try the art of acceptance and the healing power of forgiveness to release your bitterness and help you rebuild a new, fulfilling future — for yourself, or as a couple.