As Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren try to rebuild their marriage, they’ll want to avoid making the mistakes many couples make when trying to reconcile with each other, and repair their marriage in the aftermath of an affair.
Trying to put the healing process on a timetable.
The healing process takes time. It can’t be rushed. It’s important to realize that the betrayed wife and the cheating husband will heal at different rates. It takes much longer for the betrayed wife to recover from the emotional trauma of an extramarital affair, and she has to do it at her own pace. For most couples to fully recover, it takes approximately 2 years – more or less.
Failure to understand and empathize with what the other spouse is feeling.
The cheating husband may not understand the full extent of how his infidelity has traumatized his betrayed wife. The wife may be totally unaware that her cheating husband is struggling with deep-seated feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment now that his affair(s) have been exposed. Each one needs to empathize what the other is feeling, and understand how those feelings affect the healing process.
Giving up too soon.
The worse thing a reconciling couple can do is abandon their marriage prematurely, without allowing sufficient time for the healing process to take place. If they truly want to save their marriage, their efforts at reconciliation will be rewarded, if they hang in there long enough to see positive results.
Being in revenge or punishment mode, rather than reconciliation mode.
It’s time consuming and counterproductive for the betrayed wife to concern herself with punishing the cheater, seeking revenge, or trying to pay him back for having an affair. Their interests will be best served if she focuses her energy and efforts on what the two of them can do to get their derailed marriage back on track.
Harboring resentment because his life must now be an open book.
Some cheating husbands resent that they can no longer keep secrets from their wife, must share all passwords with her, must stay in constant touch with frequent phone calls, clear his itinerary with her, let her know his whereabouts at all times. But these things are a necessary part of rebuilding broken trust. And he must continue to do them until his wife feels she can trust him again. When infidelity occurs, it’s the infidelity victim who gets to call the shots. If the cheater is serious about saving his marriage, he’ll willingly comply. See Elin Nordegren Refuses to Move Back Home with Tiger Woods – What are The Pros and the Cons?
Not constructively addressing the betrayed wife’s two biggest fears.
The two biggest fears of a betrayed wife who takes her husband back are the fear that he’s still cheating behind her back, and 2) the fear that he’ll cheat on her again and she won’t know. She no longer trusts her own judgment, when it comes to signs of infidelity because like most betrayed wives, she was probably the last to know. To keep from driving herself and her husband crazy with constant suspicion, the best way to deal with her hyper vigilance is to educate herself about infidelity, and invest in a good infidelity reference book. See What Are the Major Obstacles to Taking a Cheater Back? and The Best Investment You Can Make in Your Relationship for 2010
Failing to put some type of checks and balances in place.
The betrayed wife needs to have a method in place that allows her to check up on the cheater and his activities – either with his knowledge, or behind his back. She needs a way to reassure herself that the cheater is not still cheating, that he’s being totally honest with her. It’s possible that the cheater is now being entirely truthful with his wife. But for her peace of mind, she needs to be able to confirm for herself the identity of anyone he’s calling, texting, e-mailing, or associating with. Fortunately, there are discreet online services that can help. See Infidelity Resources to Help You Catch or Keep Tabs on a Cheating Mate
Being unduly concerned with the opinion of family, friends, or the media.
In cases of high profile infidelity, everyone (including me) will want to weigh in on what Elin should do about Tiger, how she should treat him, and whether or not their marriage can, or should be saved. Trying to recover from infidelity is difficult enough without Elin and Tiger having to concern themselves with what other people think about what they are doing, or how their actions are being perceived.
Ignoring the betrayed wife’s flashbacks and her need for reassurance.
Certain things will trigger flashbacks and cause the wife to relive the pain of discovering the affair. Infidelity is a major blow to a woman’s self esteem. Deep down inside a woman will always blame herself, even though when a man cheats it’s not the woman’s fault. In Elin’s case, flashbacks are likely to be triggered by the constant reminders in the media every day as the details of Tiger’s multiple infidelities are rehashed, or new details emerge. Tiger will need to be understanding whenever this occurs, and go out of his way to reassure Elin of his love. See Are Wives to Blame When Their Husbands Cheat?
Not encouraging or praising the cheater’s efforts to make amends.
It’s important for the cheater’s wife to give him positive feedback and encouragement on the things he’s doing to try to make amends. If he feels like he’s spinning his wheels, or trying to reach an unobtainable goal, he may give up. See How to Keep from Cheating on Your Wife.
Having unrealistic expectations.
Right now the marriage is in a very fragile state. So are the couple’s emotions. The cheating husband will become impatient. The betrayed wife’s emotions will fluctuate wildly from week to week, day to day, or from one hour to the next. It’s unrealistic to expect the marriage to stabilize itself by a certain date. Most marriage and family counselors agree that it takes at least 2 years for a couple to fully recover from the effects of an affair. Other variables like the type or circumstances of the affair(s) treatment for sex addiction, the couple’s lifestyle or length of their marriage can further increase the length of time it takes to heal. It’s good to set goals, a couple can set themselves up for disappointment by expecting to reach certain milestones, or achieve a level of normalcy by a certain date.
Not being totally committed.
Successfully rebuilding a marriage in the aftermath of an affair requires total commitment from both parties involved. If one spouse is working hard to save the marriage, but the other spouse is just going through the motions, or has secretly made up his or her mind to leave, it’s impossible for a reconciliation to take place. Saving a marriage is hard work, and both partners must be totally committed to the task. If they both work at it, they can build a marriage even stronger than the one they had before. See Go or Stay? – How to Decide Whether to Give a Cheater a Second Chance
More Help for Those Trying to Reconcile with a Cheating Mate
Additional information for anyone trying to reconcile with a cheating mate can be found in the Bonus section of the e-book version of Is He Cheating on You? – 829 Telltale Signs, which includes the affair recovery information below:
- What the Two of You Must Do to Survive Your Husband’s Affair
- Advice for the Husband Who Cheated
- Advice for the Betrayed Wife
- Can Your Marriage Survive His Affair? – Questionnaire
- Will He Cheat Again? – Questionnaire
Click here to order the e-book now from Booklocker.com
NOTE: Only the e-book version of Is He Cheating on You? – 829 Telltale Signs contains the affair recovery information – NOT the soft cover version.
*** © copyright 2010 Ruth All Rights Reserved
Ruth is a New York-based infidelity expert who is frequently called on by the media to comment on infidelity issues in the news. She is the author of Is He Cheating on You? – 829 Telltale Signs, the founder of www.InfidelityAdvice.com and publishes the Infidelity News and Views blog. To interview Ruth, call 718 592-6039 or e-mail InfidelityExpert@gmail.com
For more information on the aftermath of infidelity, reconciling after an affair, or taking a cheater back, see:
Why Tiger Woods Will Probably Never Cheat Again
How to Keep from Cheating on Your Wife
What Are the Major Obstacles to Taking a Cheater Back?
Infidelity Resources to Help You Catch or Keep Tabs on a Cheating Mate
Go or Stay? – How to Decide Whether to Give a Cheater a Second Chance (free tip sheet)
How to Handle a Potential Cheater (free infidelity report)
Why Women Stay With Men Who Cheat
Is He Cheating on You? – 829 Telltale Signs (e-book version with Affair Recovery information)
The Best Investment You Can Make in Your Relationship for 2010