What makes a marriage survive an affair?

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A few constants can be found whenever a couple has successfully navigated the rewards and challenges of married life. Underlying them all is the sincere desire to make it work.

They say love isn’t always enough, and they’re right. Love without commitment, discipline, kindness, understanding, compassion and forgiveness, just isn’t enough. Putting your marriage ahead of all else — treating your relationship as an entity that requires special attention and care — is crucial to keeping the inevitable storms of life from sweeping you off course.

Another vital ingredient is forgiveness. Not necessarily agreement, nor the condoning of bad behavior, but true, spiritual forgiveness. It’s something healing for you and for your love relationship, and without it, old resentments can fester and eat away at your love and trust like a cancer. Don’t hold grudges.

A sense of humor helps, too. Lighten up and learn to have fun again, like you did when you were dating. Schedule or spontaneously indulge in playful activities and experiences you share enjoyably together. “Together” is the key. Make a special effort to find things you’ll both love doing. Bring back that sense of ‘being on the same team’ and being ‘best friends’.

Have sex. More, or again, or differently, but make sure your physical bonding happens, and happens a lot. Make it hot, make it adventurous, make it sweet, make it different. Sex is a primary bonding behavior and also releases all those healthy endorphins that will make you both feel great. Don’t withhold sex as punishment or because your feelings got hurt; that’s like refusing to eat desert because he didn’t fix the car.

To keep things on track and make sure your marriage is rock-solid and healthy again after the affair, check in with your counselor or support group and work out any small issues before they become build up into big ones. Keep your relationship free of the old toxins that lead to the affair in the first place, and you may very well live “happily ever after”.