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How to Save a Marriage After an Affair & Recover From Infidelity

Updated: 7 days ago

Can a marriage survive infidelity?

My son once asked me when he was struggling in college, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually, “Dad, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?”  


What my son didn’t know, is that a question like that hits a lot harder when you’re a husband who has just cheated on his spouse and you’re trying to “save” your marriage.  


But unfortunately, my son was asking the right man; because I was the same partner that destroyed my marriage (of 16 years), and his family, after cheating on his mother more times than I could count.  No, I was unable to save our relationship; because the truth is, nobody can save your marriage, but God -- and it take both parties to be willing to let God do it. 


Nevertheless, my experiences have equipped me with valuable insights that enable me to support and guide the men I mentor, coach, and offer marriage counseling to. Through partnering with me, they can draw from my journey to navigate the path of mending their own marriages post-affair, provided that it aligns with God's will.


Marriage after infidelity

These are the steps to rescue your marriage

Disclaimer: The advice and steps I’m about to share with you are predicated on the fact that you STILL want your marriage.  This is critical; because you have to be painfully honest with yourself about this or reading this article will just be a waste of your time.  


Like King David wrote in the Psalm 139, ask God to search you and know your heart and test your anxious thoughts (v.23, 24).  Do you really want to save your marriage after an affair? If so, then read on and take the next step…


The God’s-eye view when you’re facing ANY problem, not just an affair, and you find yourself in a hole and you don’t know what to do, the first thing you CAN do is stop digging.


What do I mean by STOP DIGGING?


Stop and end the affair right now!  No if’s, ands, or butts.  This is non-negotiable.  Whether your wife knows about the affair or not, if you indeed want to “save” your marriage, the affair has to end yesterday, not tomorrow – meaning sooner rather than later.  


Ending the relationship immediately creates space in your marriage for God’s grace and healing, and at least puts your marriage on life support.  And 10 times out of 10, your wife is going to ask you if you’re still having the affair (i.e., cheating on her)?  And trust me, an emphatic “No” from you will always be better for your marriage than an ambivalent, “Not yet.”


how how to get over an affair

Another STOP DIGGING step to take is…


Stop all communication with the “other woman.”  This is also non-negotiable. Your wife’s greatest need as a woman is to feel safe and secure.  Not only must the affair end immediately, you have to be able to convince your wife that you won’t return to the affair while you’re trying to “save” your marriage.  


So, delete the other woman’s number, block it if necessary, change your number, or consider joining the witness protection program (just kidding).  But seriously, do whatever you have to do to make sure you don’t go back to the “other woman.”  As the Bible says in Proverbs 26:11, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”  Hurting wives need to know that we won’t return to our vomit after an affair. 


Now that you’ve stop digging, now it’s time to start filling the hole.  Saving a marriage after an affair doesn’t just happen because you’ve stopped cheating; healing will only take place when you start revealing, rebuilding, and restoring.


cheating in marriage

Have the decency to end the affair

Let’s start with REVEALING.


The response from your wife after an affair depends on the type of wife you have.  Based on their past trauma and experience, whether as a child or a past relationship, your wife may choose to respond in anger, rage/violence, emotional brokenness (crying), immediate flight (leaving the house), ask or force you to leave the house, or several other reactions to help cope and survive the onslaught of emotions she may be experiencing.  


However, after the smoke clears, and the dust settles, she’s going to want answers to the who, what, where, when, why, and how long of the affair or affairs.


Revealing means to start telling the truth.  I’m not just talking about the parts of the truth you think she can or can’t handle, but rather the whole truth and nothing but the truth – so help you God.  But notice I said the “truth,” not the details.  Please use wisdom on this. Telling your wife the truth doesn’t mean answering questions she DOESN’T ask you about; it means answering honestly (completely) when/if she does. 


Trust God that your wife knows what her heart needs to know in order to start healing.  And if you think something she asks about the affair will cause her even more pain, humbly ask her, “Is this something you need to know in order to heal, or is this just something you want to know because you’re hurting?”  Explain to her that because you’ve broken the trust, you know she needs total honesty from you; but at the same time, you recognize that the devil is also in the details.  


But whatever she proceeds to ask you, always tell her the truth – even if you have to do it with tears in your eyes and hers.


can relationships survive cheating

Mending a marriage after an affair starts with rebuilding trust

Next, start REBUILDING.


Like I mentioned earlier, we can’t “save” a marriage, but God can.  But God doesn’t want us to just sit back without putting in the work in order to rebuild the trust that has been broken.


James 2:26 tells us, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” When it comes to rebuilding or “saving” your marriage, God wants you to do what you CAN do, and He will do what you CAN’T – which is work on healing and restoring your wife’s heart.


So, what does recovering from infidelity look like?  It starts with getting to the root of the affair.  


Although sex is often not as emotional for men as it is for women, men don’t cheat in a vacuum.  Affairs are just the bad fruit from a deeper-rooted problem.  Rebuilding starts with getting to the root of your affair.  Based on my personal experience, as well as my professional experience working with men, men cheat on their wives for many different reasons, but all stemming from the same root: a damaged, distorted view of our identity in Christ.  See if you can relate to any of these reasons for affairs:


  • Personal fears, doubts, and insecurities (i.e., physical, relational, social, financial, professional, etc.)

  • Need for validation of ego

  • Need for respect

  • Need to be appreciated

  • Need to be desired

  • Need for physical touch/sex

  • Need for relational intimacy


Rebuilding starts with acknowledging and admitting this, to yourself, and a marriage counselor or coach who can help you understand where these feelings originated – and what you need to do now to start the healing process.


Why is this step necessary after an affair?  Because if we don’t learn from the past we’re destined to repeat it.  Even if your marriage survives your affair, you’re susceptible to another affair if you haven’t addressed and attacked the root of the affair.


Infidelity healing

Recreating an emotional connection and getting over hurt feelings is how your restore love

The last step is RESTORING.


This step is going to take the longest, because it’s going to be dictated by your wife and her healing, not yours.


Unfortunately, the one who is guilty of the affair usually heals a lot faster than the one who’s been hurt by the affair.  This is true because, as the offender, we have no idea of the level and depth of pain we’ve caused our wives as a result of our affair.  No matter how much she expresses her anger, disappointment, rage, bitterness, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, doubts, and fears, unless she seeks counseling for herself, she won’t be able to articulate her feelings and emotions adequately.


So, restoring starts with creating a safe place for her to share those emotions, without fear, guilt, or shame.  That means, as the one guilty of the affair, the last thing you want to do when she’s sharing her pain is to try to defend yourself, blame, explain, or shame her for the decisions you choose to have an affair.


This process will be very painful for you, because you’ll still be dealing with your own guilt and shame, and her unpredictable emotional responses will easily trigger you.  But you have to ask God for the strength to spiritually endure her reactions, words, and sometimes, irrational behavior.


I wish I could tell you how long this will take; but only she and God knows.  But in the meantime, here’s what you can to do work on the restoring process:


  • Fast and pray for your wife (How can I pray for you?)

  • Do emotional check-ins with her (How are you feeling today?)

  • Ask her (humbly) what she needs (What do you need from me today?)

  • Look for ways to love her better (What can you do today to demonstrate your love for her?) 

  • Explore ways to pursue and understand her heart better (What am I still missing when it comes to your heart and helping you heal?)

  • Seek honest feedback and constructive criticism (What do I still need to work on to be a better husband/man to you)?


Can you save a marriage after an affair? It depends

Surviving and saving your marriage after an affair comes with no guarantees other than enduring a lot of pain and suffering.  When it comes to marriage, God allows us to choose our choices, but not our consequences.  And the aftermath of an affair comes with unpredictable consequences.


In the Bible, God often refers to us as “His bride” (Rev19:7). And He sent Jesus to reconcile (save) and restore our relationship with Him (Rom 5:10).  But God’s process is a lot simpler: We confess our sins that we cheated and had an affair on Him by worshipping and pursuing “other gods” – and then we ask for forgiveness.  And then we REPENT by changing directions, changing our attitude, and ultimately asking God to change our hearts.  And the good news is that God instantly forgives, reconcile, and restores our relationship with Him (1 John 1:9).


However, when it comes to our wives, the journey back to restoration is a lot more complicated. Yes, we confess and admit our sin; yes, we repent and walk with a changed heart; but God also requires us to attempt to make amends (i.e., try to make things right) with the people we’ve harmed.  But there’s no guarantee that your wife will accept or even appreciate your attempts to make amends; however, if you obey God in your attempts to restore your marriage, you will be able to walk in peace knowing that God will be pleased with your attempt.    

 


Do you need someone to support and walk with you through this journey?

Book a Free Breakthrough Call with Me and we will discuss exactly how you can approach repairing your relationship, (or heck even confessing.)





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