Healing Stories: Overcoming the Affair – The Four Keys to Reclaim Love
Almost everyone that enters into a romantic love relationship says that if their partner were ever to have an affair the relationship is dead. Over. Gone.
But is that really the case? Millions of people who face the prognosis of an affair will choose to try to save the relationship versus end it.
Number one best-selling author, counselor, life coach and radio host David Essel has helped hundreds of couples since 1990 reclaim love after an affair. But he’s also seen an equal number that during their attempt to save the relationship, actually sabotage it.
“For those of us who have been on the receiving end, or the giving end of an affair, the stress is off the charts. Do I want to stay with them? Are they worthy of me bringing them back into my heart? If you’re the one who cheated, you may be thinking very similar thoughts. In other words, there are no winners when it comes to an affair.
But I can tell you that there’s some really important keys to follow if you want to try to save a relationship after an affair. Here they are:
Number one: Whoever cheated must become more humble and vulnerable than they’ve ever been in their life. With my clients in this position I tell them that they’re going to have to basically be on their knees, asking for forgiveness, and be willing to do almost anything their partner asks to prove their serious about reclaiming the relationship.
This takes an immense amount of humility. And it’s not just doing this for 30 or 60 days, in my practice as a counselor, I’ve seen that it takes up to 365 days in a row of someone truly being humbled in order for their partner to trust them once again.
Number two: Now this next step is brutal. It’s for the person who did not cheat. After I work with this individual for about four weeks I ask them to get serious. To look within and see what role they had in the affair. Of course many times at first they balk. They claim they did nothing. But after deeper introspection, and answering the questions that we’ve created for people in this situation, 100% of the time they see a role they played in the affair.
They understand that they shut down in bed for six months which encouraged their partner to seek something from the outside world. Or they became highly passive aggressive in the relationship. Or they became workaholics, alcoholics, foodaholics. In other words they picked up an addiction so they didn’t have to spend time with their partner. Once they see the reality of their role the relationship has a much better chance to heal.
Number three: Going back to the person who cheated. I have them do an exercise where they write down all the reasons why they strayed from the relationship. Were they bored? Did they have deep resentments? Was there unresolved rage or anger at their partner? Were they simply following the role model in childhood, or mom or dad who had an affair? Were they afraid of speaking openly? Were they afraid of communicating their true feelings because they thought they might get shut down?
When the person who cheated goes through and answers all of these questions it starts to bring great insight for me as a counselor as to what we have to do to help the couple reclaim their love.
Number four: Forgiveness. The last step I take each of these individuals separately through is forgiveness. For the person who cheated, I take them through a series of exercises to forgive themselves for the error they made. For the person who did not cheat, I take them through a series of exercises to forgive themselves as well for what they did that may have encouraged their partner to look outside of the relationship for validation.
I will give two separate examples of couples I’ve worked with after an affair. One who was successful, and the other was not.
The successful couple. They did everything I mentioned above with 100% energy. Within 365 days of working with them individually they were able to reclaim their love, forgive themselves, forgive each other, that was 17 years ago and today their love is stronger than ever.
The unsuccessful couple. In this case, the husband who cheated, did everything I asked of him to reclaim the relationship. As I worked with him it was amazing to see the transformation of humility. But on the other hand, his wife never took him off of the cross. She continued to berate him. Even after nine months of him doing everything that she wanted him to do to prove he would never cheat again she constantly reminded him of what a loser he was. That she would never trust him. At that time in the counseling I let the wife go. I told her that I couldn’t work with her if she wasn’t willing to look at her role and to start the process of forgiveness.
I continued to work with the husband, but he had a very tough road to go through. Unfortunately, I don’t see this relationship healing unless the woman becomes extremely humble, vulnerable, and tries to risk the concept of forgiveness.
Millions of couples will go through this very same experience and the ones who heal will find a deeper love than they’ve ever experienced with each other in the past.”
If you need help in your relationship, before an affair happens, or after one occurs, reach out to David at www.davidessel.com
To read more stories like this and to find out how David can help you see David’s Blog