How can I rebuild my marriage after having an affair? Several years ago my wife and I were having problems, and as a result, I became involved with another woman. Thankfully, my wife has forgiven me and we are back together. But I want my relationship with her and the children to be as strong as possible. How can I make this happen?
Your vulnerability and willingness to share this difficult issue with us is an important first step toward healing. Your wife is also to be highly commended. Her willingness to forgive demonstrates a great deal of strength and courage. Many women in her position are never able to take that step. All things considered, you're in an excellent position to turn this unfortunate experience into a springboard to a better and stronger marriage.
To make the most of this opportunity, you, your wife, and your kids need to commit to family counseling. Your first item of business is to work through the issues in your marriage that led to the affair in the first place. A trained counselor can help examine your relationship and determine which areas need to be shored up. If you don't submit to this part of the process, unresolved problems will only resurface later. Once you've dealt with these marital issues, it's critical that your children join you in counseling. They too have emotional baggage to unpack, and it's valuable to do this with the help of a qualified Christian family therapist. For referrals we strongly suggest that you contact Focus on the Family's Counseling Department. They may be reached at this number. You can discuss your situation with one of our caring phone counselors who will then direct you to a licensed family practitioner in your area.
Keep in mind that it often takes a long time to rebuild trust after an affair has occurred. That's going to be true for your kids as well as your wife. So be patient. As the process moves forward, you can show your good faith by joining a men's accountability group at a local church. Find some Christian brothers with whom you can be open about your failings and temptations. Ask them to hold you accountable to your renewed commitment to your family. It's impossible to overestimate the value of this kind of experience.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Gary Smalley speaks to those who've admitted to an affair and gives specific steps to correct course and reconnect with their spouse.
Torn Asunder: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair (book)
Hope for Every Marriage (broadcast)
Practical Advice for Protecting Your Marriage (broadcast)
Marriage Alive - The Web site of Dave and Claudia Arp, a husband and wife team who strive to help couples build better marriages and families.
Affairs and Adultery