This is the first article of a new feature of A Miracle A Day… every Friday I’ll write an article to answer a reader’s question. This first time, I’m answering a question that has been asked of me a few times, most recently the day after I asked for questions for this article.
I have been married for a few years, and we have children together. During the time we’ve been married, my husband had an affair. We were separated, but not divorced, and he called me to apologize and say he wanted to try again. After we got back together, he cheated on me again. Since then, he has admitted to it, and told me he wanted to save our marriage. He’s been a good husband since then, and I really love him, but it’s very hard to trust him. His cheating on me has also decimated my self-worth, so that even though he tells me he loves me and that I’m beautiful, I have a hard time believing him. I want to save my marriage… what can I do?
Your spouse is the one person that you should be able to trust over all others, so when they hurt you badly, and then do so again, it’s more devastating than nearly any other pain. That leaves you with a lot of internal hurt that you’re going to need to heal before your relationship can really be strong again, although there’s no reason you can’t startworking on it while still working through your pain.
The first thing that you need to do is to start working on making yourself stronger. You can start this process by finding a way to have a little time to yourself (no kids and no husband… maybe at night after they all are asleep) where you can take a step back, let things go, and be able to start from a place of more peace. Once you’ve done that, you really need to figure out who you are, and who you want to be… a good place to start would be this article.
This lets you start working toward a good relationship from a place of strength, knowing who you are and who you want to be, being more whole. A stronger knowledge and sense of self will help you to see your self, your husband, your relationship, and how those three things work together more clearly, ensuring that you have a strong foundation.
Now that you have started working on your self, you are ready to start working on your relationship. The first thing you need to do is make sure that both of you really want to save your marriage… building a relationship on only one end makes it unbalanced, and it will collapse. Still, with that being said, someone has to go first… and since you’re obviously interested in saving your marriage enough to be reading this article, that probably means you.
The process starts with a serious, deep conversation. In order to have such a conversation, you need to be relatively certain you won’t be interrupted, which generally means finding a babysitter for the children, but it can work after they all go to bed, too. In this conversation, you need to let it all come out… how you feel, why you feel that way, what you want, what you’re scared of, and what you dream of. This can’t be one-sided, though… you both have to participate, or little will come of it.
After you have this conversation, you should both have a better idea of where you stand. All of the problems should be out in the open, and each person should have somewhat of an idea of the amount of effort it is going to take to move forward and rebuild your relationship.
If you are both ready and willing to do what it takes, what you have to do is essentially start a new relationship. That means getting to know each other all over again, building trust slowly, dating, etc., just like you were meeting for the first time.
As you are rebuilding your relationship, you need to deal with issues as they come up. You can’t put it off, or bury it, or tell yourself it doesn’t matter… both of you have to take the time to actually deal with each and every issue that comes up between you.
At the same time, you need to make sure that you’re not being petty, just looking for negative things to bring up. Your focus should be on the things you have in common, the positive things, the things that you love about each other… that doesn’t mean ignore negative things, because you do need to deal with even small issues as they come up so that they don’t pile up, but don’t go hunting for them.
The above doesn’t just apply to the rebuilding phase of your relationship, either… if you want to save your marriage, and keep it strong over the long haul, you need to continue to deal with issues as they come up and focus on the shared and positive things for the rest of your lives.
In addition to dealing with issues in the relationship as they come up, you need to help each other deal with issues that have nothing to do with your relationship, whatever mental wounds you have from your past, whether it’s before or after you got together. Doing that helps to build trust, bring down walls, and get rid of background “pressure” that adds to the impact of small issues that arise day to day (like the straw that broke the camel’s back… if you have enough weight of “other” issues piled up on you, even small things can push you close to the breaking point).
Essentially, to save your marriage, you need to give up your old relationship, and the habits you formed in and around it, and build a new one. That doesn’t mean forget about the old one, though… it means that you should learn from it, figure out what went wrong, and use that knowledge to make your new relationship stronger and more secure.
Saving your marriage, rebuilding your relationship… all of this starts with, and depends on, you working on yourself. That doesn’t mean trying to become the perfect wife (or husband), it means figuring out who you are, what your passions are, and learning to trust yourself. It also means freeing up your mental, spiritual, and emotional resources used up in avoiding pain from old mental wounds by facing them head-on. Those resources then become available for more active pursuits, like, for instance, building a relationship. A relationship requires commitment, energy, and attention from both sides… if all of your energy and attention is going to deal with your past issues, you’ll have none left to spend on your current relationships.
That’s the beginning… you’re now on your way. You might also want to read some of the following articles, for more details on some of the things mentioned above: