Take a cheating spouse back only after you rebuild your relationship
Many people, in their desire to reconcile, will take a cheating spouse back too quickly. The problem with this is that their spouses are still overcoming their attraction to someone else and are not fully committed to reconciling. After returning home, they have only a half-hearted effort at reconciling, which re-creates the situation which led to the affair in the first place. Another affair and separation often will occur, often driving a spike through the marriage and ending it once and for all. This problem can be avoided by rebuilding the relationship before living together again.
Your spouse’s sincere desire to reconcile is not enough
Your spouse is remorseful, maybe even tearful. He (or she) admits his great “mistake” in leaving you and now wants to reconcile. You can clearly tell the remorse is genuine. Should you take a cheating spouse back right away? Not if you want to save your marriage. When people commit to each other before love, trust, and commitment are in place, the relationship stops growing. This is one of the problems that couples run into when they live with each other prior to marriage. Particularly with men, once you are living together, they often feel like they have attained their goal and stop working on to build the relationship further. You are left not knowing how much the relationship could have grown if only you had not committed too soon..
Your partner is probably just using his or her backup plan
When your spouse separated, he or she had a plan of having a better life without you and with someone else. Like many things in life, these plans don’t always work out. When they don’t, the cheating spouse often becomes fearful of being with no relationship, or else becomes very inconvenienced by having to live away from home base. A large part of your spouse’s desire to reconcile will be simply to have the security, cost savings, or convenience of once again living with you. The desire not to be alone is not the same thing as desiring you. If you take a cheating spouse back simply because he or she does not want to be alone, then you are no more than a spare tire that can be exchanged at any time for another person.
What to say to your cheating spouse when he or she wants to come back
It is a good thing that your cheating spouse has gotten to this point. It is helpful for reconciling, but you must be careful not to just take him or her back quickly. Your relationship must be rebuilt FIRST in order to avoid the emotional distance and other problems that will occur otherwise, and to promote genuine commitment rather than just a way to be rescued from loneliness or inconvenience. At this time, tell your spouse:
I am so glad you want to reconcile with me. I would like that too, and I hope it is possible. In order for us to see if it is, we will need to stay separated and start our relationship over, like we did in the beginning. If we can restore trust, fall in love again, and commit to being with each other for the rest of our lives, then we will be able to live together again. Before we both have trust, commitment, and love, it will make no sense for us to live together.
After you say this, your spouse may say, “Well, in that case, forget it.” If you get such a response, you can be sure that your spouse is not really wanting to reconcile with you. If you did take such a spouse back immediately, your relationship most certainly will not grow. Any person who is really sorry for their behavior and really desiring to reconcile with you will not like having to stay separated, but be willing to do whatever it takes to repair your relationship.
Love and boundaries are no less important when you are separated
Just as when you are living together, you need to be both loving and have good boundaries in order to promote connection and to build respect. Some people have a tendency to be too tough–using too many boundaries–further pushing their spouses away. Others use too few boundaries, or none at all, thinking that if they are all-loving, it will attract their spouses back. What actually happens, however, is their spouses never end up recommitting and just enjoy being a part-time spouse. If you are all loving with plans and get tough later, your spouse will say, “See, there you go again behaving the way you used to. That’s why I left you in the first place.” This will just leave you frustrated and feeling hopeless. If you use the right mix of boundaries and love throughout your separation, you can promote your relationship, without making your spouse feel like he or she can have it both ways.
Most relationships survive an affair
Their are many more people having affairs than there are people divorcing. It is possible to have a strong relationship after there has been an affair. Most people do not actually find the happiness they were seeking in an affair. If their spouse has done a good job in keeping both respect and connection, then the person having an affair is often grateful for the chance to try again to make their marriage work. Make sure you don’t give up just because your spouse has not yet reached that stage. Help him or her to get there, instead.
When to get help from counseling
If your spouse is willing to go to counseling with you, then you can make that part of the process of growing your relationship while you are still separated. Often it is helpful to grow your relationship a while before going to counseling. This is because at first your emotional bond is not yet strong enough to work on tough issues. You may even find that the issues disappear when you take time to restore love, trust, and commitment prior to living together again.
When to get help from coaching
If a large part of the reason that your spouse sought out someone else is because of some needy or controlling behavior on your part, then you will want to work on those behaviors as soon as you can. A relationship coach can help you to honestly be the best person for your spouse’s future. And, a coach can help you to make changes in a way that does not pressure your spouse. For your spouse to want to come back, you must attract him or her back. You must help your spouse desire you again, just as it was when you first met.