Supporting communication with your partner’s ex is best for your relationship.
When you come into a relationship in which your new partner had a family before you, particularly when there are kids involved, it is profoundly important to recognize how jarring it is to bring a new person into this system. Even though it was a dysfunctional system, there are so many emotions swirling around your partner’s previous relationship that it can be a confusing process for your partner and their ex to discover their new roles.
When your partner has responsibilities that preceded you, what is best for you as a couple is to try to put as little pressure or expectation as you can on how your partner handles communication and connection with their ex. It can be uncomfortable and can even feel like you’re being a sucker – especially if your partner spends what feels like long periods of time communicating with their ex – but the best thing you can do for your relationship is to support your partner in however they need to work through their process of separating from this system. By adopting a supportive role, you decrease the tension between your new partner and their ex, and that in turn will create a more comfortable, harmonious environment for you as a couple moving forward.
I know you’re probably afraid to leave your partner alone or encourage communication between them and their ex. But here’s the thing: If you lose your partner in this process, it was going to happen anyway. As hard as it is to remember this, trust that for them to have reached the point at which they broke up, contributing to more positive communication will not increase the likelihood of romance again – they have a history before you came along, before you were supervising anything or had any control of any aspect, and that history led to a breakup.
Of course, there are times when you may have been a big part of your partner’s reasons for the breakup. In this delicate situation, in which you are the person your partner left the relationship for, it’s important to make room for their ex to be angry at you, to feel spiteful of you, to even (if they can’t control themselves) badmouth you to the kids. If the kids are old enough, when you have the opportunity, you might say, “I totally understand why you don’t like me, why you’re unhappy with me. Whatever you’re comfortable with, I’ll honor. Please tell your parent that also.”
There are so many factors that determine how a child of any age will respond to their parent being in a new relationship. It’s important to try not to make judgments about their process. Again, in this situation, try to be as flexible and empathetic as you can towards your partner’s ex and any kids, even when they seem monstrous to you. Getting preoccupied about the fairness of communication will likely lead to adversarial communication between all of you, which does no one any good.
On the other hand, the relationship may have ended because your partner’s ex acted irresponsibly. As easy as it might be to feel angry at the ex on behalf of your partner, giving in to those feelings doesn’t actually end up helping anyone. Instead, to the best of your ability, operate under the assumption that no matter how ugly the end of that relationship got, the likelihood, especially when kids are involved, that their ex intended to cause that kind of pain is very low.
Try to validate your partner’s feelings. Whether the breakup was as horrific as catching their ex in bed with someone else or as small as getting sick of how often their partner lost their keys, try to keep your own personal feelings from spilling over. You can, of course, be empathic to your partner’s feelings, especially when the cause of their breakup was extreme, but there are always pieces that you won’t know. Things that were going on for your partner’s ex can make the situation feel very different for them.
By supporting your partner however they need to work through their previous relationship, you make things more relaxed within your new system. As difficult as it may be, any way that you can allow yourself to encourage positive communication between your partner and their ex brings peace to your new home and creates a system that has significantly less hostility than would otherwise be the case.
Don’t be friends with your ex, there is no such a thing as friends with an ex, you can’t move on when you are still talking to your ex, etc. That’s what almost everyone says. And you have probably told your ex “we can’t be friends” because you think that being friends with your ex will ruin your chances of getting back together.
There is truth to all the above statements.
- Some people are just too toxic together, even as friends.
- Some people struggle with transitioning from a romantic relationship to a platonic one
- If you don’t know what you are doing, being friends can hurt your chances of getting your ex back.
That said, being friends with an ex is actually more common and more expected than most people who have never had an amicable break-up realize. Being friends with an ex also significantly increases your chances of getting your ex back.
I’ll back up a little. I don’t advice telling your ex “let’s be friends” if you want your ex back. Huge mistake. Your ex might believe that friendship is all you want, and feel deceived/manipulated if later on you say you want to get back together.
BUT… this is very important. If your ex says they want the two of you to be friends, or that friendship is all they can offer you at the moment, DO NOT turn down the offer because you are scared that being friends will hurt your chances.
Accept your ex’s offer to be friends and make the best of it. You’ve been offered a window of opportunity, that if used well, may very well turn out to be the “probation period” you need — before you are hired for the job!
How is being friends with your ex an advantage?
- Being friends means that you can text your ex, call and hang out within a safe emotional environment. The more you are in your ex’s everyday life (and thoughts), the better your chances.
- Being friends also gives you the opportunity to showcase the changes you’ve made; something that’s impossible to do if you are not in regular contact via text, email, phone calls or in person.
- Being friends gives your the opportunity to test-drive the new relationship without risking too much. Because there is no pressure to be anything other than two people enjoying spending time together, the “new” relationship has time to grow and feel comfortable for both of you.
Make sure you communicate in your ‘break-up acceptance’ text or email that still have romantic feelings for them but are content with being friends if it leads to getting back together at some point. This is really important because your ‘break-up acceptance’ text or email, if worded well can be the difference between things rapidly moving forward and the two of you going your separate ways.
If possible define in very clear terms what being ‘friends’ means to you and ask your ex if they are okay with it. Encourage them to communicate their boundaries and what they’re comfortable with in terms of contact, space, time spent together, seeing other people, intimacy etc.
As the saying goes: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It’s better to work with the opportunity you have than to risk losing everything trying to get something more.
It’s a good idea to be civil and cooperative with your former spouse; however, being friends with your ex likely won’t allow you to move on with your life.
While it’s normal to want to undo the past, being friends with your ex usually doesn’t work out. It’s a noble endeavor to want to be a friend to a former spouse but it can fuel your child’s reconciliation fantasies and prevent both adults from healing and moving on with their lives.
It’s especially problematic for the person who was left – or the dumpee – because having regular contact with the person who rejected them can make a person feel confused or give them a sense of false hope. On the other hand, the dumper would probably admit to feeling guilty upon seeing their ex regularly or worry that they are sending the wrong message.
When my marriage ended, I had the misconception that two good people (myself and my ex) should be able to stay friends after our divorce. In my case, I was looking for closure – but soon realized that letting go of the reasons why our marriage dissolved was a healthier decision. I also came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to have all of the answers to why my marriage failed in order to move on.
There are many reasons why people strive to be friends with their ex after a breakup or divorce. Certainly one of the main reasons is that they have unfinished business that they hope to resolve. Our they may want to keep the non-intimate part of the relationship going because they have caring feelings toward their former spouse.
Erin, a 40-something teacher confides, “I couldn’t understand why two civilized adults couldn’t visit with our kids and hang out like friends. But Jason told me it hurt him too badly because I broke it off and he was reminded of his pain every time we got together.” This experience is a common one for the dumpee who might feel especially hurt if their ex has a new partner and they don’t. It can add salt to an open wound that has not had sufficient time to heal.
Guilt Can Drive You Towards Being Friends with Your Ex
Another reason why people want to stay in close contact with a former partner after a breakup is guilt. Sometimes the person who is the dumper feels guilty about leaving the relationship, especially if they were unfaithful, and they want to remain friendly with the dumpee to help to ease their guilt. In this case, counseling with a qualified therapist is a more effective way to deal with these leftover emotions.
Further, some individuals keep their relationship alive because they hope for reconciliation but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it. According to Susan J. Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, “Examining your quest for contact and being honest about your real intentions will help you stop making excuses to make contact.”
Conner, 48, reflects, “I did all I could to keep in touch with Karen with the hope that we could fix things and one day get back together – even though I knew she was in love with someone else.”
7 Reasons Being Friends with Your Ex Doesn’t Work:
- Most of the time, a post-breakup friendship is a setup for further heartbreak, especially for the person who was left and probably feels rejected.
- It does not give you or your ex time to grieve the loss of the relationship or marriage. Like all losses, the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage causes people to go through various stages of grief. In order to heal and move through anger, denial, it’s essential that individuals have the emotional and physical space to do this. Trying to maintain a friendship may extend the healing process.
- You need to forge a new identity: After a breakup, it’s essential to lose your identity as a couple and to return to who you were as an individual, rather than half of a couple.
- It can cause confusion for your children. It’s normal for most children to experience reconciliation fantasies and seeing their parents spend time together (social events, holidays, etc.) can cause them to long for their intact family. Children benefit from parents who are collaborative but not necessarily friends post-breakup.
- You might not have been true friends and it’s problematic to start now. Sometimes, especially when there are children involved, a person may feel pressured to preserve a friendship that never existed or that disappeared during your marriage. So just say “no” and remain cordial to each other.
- You need energy to “take care of yourself” and to form new relationships. Maintaining a close friendship with an ex (especially if it’s emotionally or physically intimate) can delay this process.
- Acceptance is the final stage of grieving the loss of a loved one, according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and a post-breakup friendship doesn’t facilitate this process.
At some point, it’s important to move away from being friends with your ex and accept the breakup of your marriage and come to a place of “it is what it is.” These anecdotes from bloggers help to explain how acceptance and setting boundaries with your ex can facilitate creating a new chapter in your life.
Katie, a 30-something high school counselor reflects, “When I broke it off with husband Kyle, he took it very hard. I thought that if we stayed in touch and hung out sometimes, it would help him adjust but it only made things worse. I let my guilt and his feelings of rejection be the driving force rather than common sense. It took him years to get over our breakup and I was left feeling even more guilty because of the pain I caused him.”
Justin, a 40-year old accountant shares, “It just didn’t work for Heather and me to remain friends. It got complicated without three kids and they felt more confused when we tried to get together. Then when I started dating Susie, they didn’t like her and kept talking about wanting their mom and me to get back together. It wasn’t fair to them and I didn’t want to give them false hope.”
Truth be told, it’s a great idea to be civil and cooperative with your former spouse – especially when you have children. Being allies with your ex can help children adjust and thrive post-divorce. That said, maintaining a friendship with your former spouse probably won’t allow you both to move on with your life after a divorce. Giving yourself time and space to regain independence and a sense of identity will serve you and your children well in the long run.
F ew relationship questions are as polarizing as whether or not you should stay friends with an ex. For every person who tries to salvage the good and forget the bad, there’s another who’d rather move on and never look back. Anecdotal evidence feeds arguments on both sides — but what do the experts say?
Rachel Sussman, a New York City-based psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible, advises caution when it comes to staying friends, but says there are couples for whom it works; ultimately, she says, it’s “an individual determination.” Nonetheless, Sussman says there are some guidelines all exes should follow after a breakup.
When to cut ties with an ex
Under no circumstances should a relationship that was abusive, manipulative or toxic transition into a friendship, Sussman says. But even if your relationship was generally healthy and simply didn’t work out, you might want to think twice before becoming pals. One 2000 study, for example, found that friendships between exes were more likely to have negative qualities, and less likely to have positive ones, than cross-sex platonic friendships.
That may be especially true if you were never friends before you dated, Sussman says. “If you had a really strong connection and a really strong love affair with a very erotic sex life, how do you become friends with that person?” Sussman says. “Chemistry doesn’t always change.”
Sussman also says there are potential downsides to staying friendly with an ex. “Sometimes that will hold you back from going into a new relationship,” she warns. (There’s even research to back this up.) “Or you get into a new relationship and you tell your new girlfriend or boyfriend, ‘My ex is one of my closest friends.’ That’s complicated. Are you giving the new relationship a [fair] chance to really flourish or blossom?”
Ashley Brett, a psychology researcher in her late 20s (who asked to use a pseudonym to protect her identity), knows that struggle well. After breaking up with her boyfriend of about a year and a half, Brett stayed friends with him — and fell into an on-again, off-again relationship that lasted for more than five years. “The friendship was never really separate from the previous romantic relationship,” Brett says. “It turned into the next cycle of a romantic relationship, and then back into friendship.”
Though Brett says the relationship had enough upsides that she’d probably “make the same mistake twice,” she says she’d be hesitant to recommend the same to a friend or therapy client. “The largest drawback is being inhibited from new relationships and new experiences,” Brett says. “I closed myself off to other people and I didn’t really want to open up to somebody again, and that’s maybe not, psychologically, the healthiest orientation to life.”
Brett adds that repeatedly falling back on friendship allowed her to numb some of the pain of each breakup — which may seem like a good strategy, but can actually prevent future growth. One study, published in 2013 in PLOS One, found that “breakup distress may act as a catalyst for personal growth,” while avoiding that distress may inhibit the development process.
When to stay friends with an ex
Sussman says exes who have kids together should try to remain on good terms if possible, since they’ll be in each other’s lives for the long run. The lines are murkier for couples without children, but Sussman says those who dated when they were young, were friends first, dated casually or were together only for a short time are good candidates for friendship.
Robin Zabiegalski, a 31-year-old writer who lives in Vermont, is a notable counterexample. She’s happily married, but still maintains close friendships with several of her serious ex-partners — including her ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend she lived with for years after their breakup.
It wasn’t always that way. “I had burned all my relationships to the ground, and I was not really friends with any of my exes,” Zabiegalski says. But eventually, in pursuit of personal growth, she reached out to her ex-partners — first to apologize for past transgressions, then to try and “reclaim” the relationships they’d shared for years. “That’s a huge chunk of my life that is kind of co-owned by this person,” she says. “I just felt like those pieces of me were missing, and the only way to reclaim those pieces of myself was to, on their terms, be like, ‘Can we repair this relationship?’”
Zabiegalski admits these friendships only work because her husband is “inherently not jealous,” and because she’s open about both her past relationships and current interactions with exes. She also says it’s crucial to only pursue friendships when the romantic spark has completely faded for both parties. “If you’re staying friends and the real goal is to get them back, that’s just continuing drama that you don’t need,” she says.
The research supports that notion. Studies suggest that couples who remain in contact for the same reasons — whether those are pragmatic or sentimental — are more likely to have successful friendships, while staying in touch because of unresolved romantic desires is a predictor of negative outcomes.
How to stay friendly with an ex
If you decide to try a friendship with an ex, Sussman suggests taking a break first. “I’m quite suspect of those couples that break up and then tell me right away that they’re best friends,” she says. “Time heals. A lot of insight can come with time and space apart.”
That goes for social media as well as in-person interactions. “I would love for couples to unfollow and unfriend each other for a few months [after a breakup],” Sussman says. Otherwise, “before you know it, you’re checking your Instagram and you’re seeing your ex, and that brings up all sorts of thoughts and feelings which might make you, on some emotional level, feel reconnected to that person.”
Boundaries are also important for couples-turned-friends, Sussman says, though they’ll likely look different for everyone. “A healthy boundary could look like, ‘Let’s not talk every day. Let’s not text every day,’” Sussman says. “‘Every couple of months let’s grab a meal, see a movie — but not regular, daily contact.’”
Above all, regularly reassess how the friendship makes you feel, and be honest with yourself. “More times than not, [someone who stays friends with an ex] is kind of clinging to something,” Sussman says. “It’s more of a security blanket.”
If that’s the case for you, it may be healthier to let the friendship go — even if it hurts in the moment.
Some exes can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality.
Let’s face it, many people are not emotionally ready to move on after a breakup and believe that preserving a friendship with their ex (assuming there was one) is useful. While it’s normal to want to undo the past, so often when we try to forge a friendship with our ex-spouse we are blindsided by complications and pitfalls. That’s why you should be wary if your ex husband wants to be friends.
When my marriage ended, I felt a lot of pressure to maintain a friendship with my ex and found out over time that it wasn’t practical or in the best interests of myself or my children. In my case, I believe that I was looking for closure by trying to be friends with my ex – but soon realized that letting go of the reasons why our marriage dissolved was a healthier decision. I also came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to have all of the answers to why my marriage failed in order to move on.
That being said, some ex’s can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality. Kendra, 38, a middle school teacher was able to maintain contact with her ex-partner for special occasions because he respected her privacy, didn’t stop by unannounced and had developed a support network, including a new wife.
There are many reasons why people strive to be friends with their ex after a breakup or divorce. One of the reasons is that they like to share resources and help each other out. They still consider themselves to be friends. Melinda, 46, a journalist, confides: “I can’t really completely heal from the breakup unless we stay in touch. I know that John shares my view, and that’s what works best for us.”
Another reason why people want to stay in close contact with a former partner after a breakup is guilt.
Sometimes the person who is the dumper feels guilty about leaving the relationship, especially if they were unfaithful, and wants to remain friendly with the dumpee to help to ease their guilt. In this case, counseling with a qualified therapist is a more effective way to deal with these leftover emotions.
Further, some individuals keep their relationship alive because they hope for reconciliation but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it. According to Susan J. Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, “Examining your quest for contact and being honest about your real intentions will help you stop making excuses to make contact.” Alan, age thirty-eight, reflects: I tried to keep in touch with Alyssa with the hope that we could mend things and one day get back together – even though I knew she was dating someone else.”
5 Things to Consider If Your Ex Husband Wants To Be Friends:
- You both need time and space to heal and regular contact (text, face-face, etc.) can extend the healing process. You need to give your relationship time to die naturally.
- It’s important to forge a new identity: After the breakup, it’s key to lose your identity as a couple and to return to who you were as an individual, rather than half of a couple.
- You need to allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship. Like all losses, the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage causes people to go through various stages of grief. In order to move through anger, denial, etc. it’s essential that individuals have the emotional and physical space to do this.
- It can create confusion for children. It’s normal for children to experience reconciliation fantasies and seeing their parents spend time together (social events, holidays, etc.) can cause them to long for their pre-divorce family. Children benefit from parents who are collaborative but not necessarily close friends post-divorce.
- You need energy to “take care of yourself” and to form new relationships. Maintaining a close friendship with an ex (especially if it’s emotionally or physically intimate) can delay this process. At some point, it’s crucial to accept your divorce come to a place of moving on from the past.
For instance, Clarissa, 43, an emergency room nurse thought that maintain a friendship with her ex at his request might help him adjust but it delayed his grieving. She reflects, “After I left my husband, David, he took it very hard and wanted to be friends. I thought that if we hung out sometimes, it would help him deal with being alone but it only made things worse. I let my guilt and his feelings of rejection be the driving force rather than common sense. It took him a few years to get over our breakup and he usually didn’t respond well to me saying “no” when he wanted to stop by unannounced. It put me in an awkward position, especially when our kids were around and wanted him to stay.”
Let’s face it, many people are not emotionally ready to move on after a breakup and believe that preserving a friendship with their ex-partner is useful. While it’s normal to want to undo the past, so often when we try to forge a friendship with our ex and are blindsided by complications and pitfalls such as trying to forge a new romantic relationship. It makes sense that a new partner might feel some jealousy or resentment if your ex is still a part of your life.
That being said, some ex’s can pull off a friendship if they maintain good boundaries and neither one of them have a high conflict personality. Kendra, 38, a middle school teacher was able to maintain contact with her ex-partner for special occasions because he respected her privacy, didn’t stop by unannounced and had developed a support network, including a new wife.
It’s important to be aware that for many people, the drawbacks of being friends with your ex usually outweigh the benefits. It’s often difficult to maintain clear boundaries with a former spouse – especially if you feel guilty about ending the marriage. You might be too flexible or accommodating due to guilt feelings. It’s also confusing for children to see their parents together often and sets the stage for more reconciliation fantasies.
However, if you have children, maintaining a cooperative relationship with their other parent can help them adjust and thrive. Most of all, keep in mind that it’s important to take care of you and give yourself time to heal and to develop new relationships after a divorce. If maintaining a friendship with your ex-spouse complicates this process, then it might not be the best idea or serve you well in the long run.
Someone who wants a real relationship with you and wants you back will get tired of the cat-and-mouse game very quickly, and will want more intimate communication (i.e. text messaging, phone conversations, face-to-face- meetings) .
6. Your ex responds but is just being polite
There are exes who respond because they feel that not responding is rude, and/or don’t want to hurt you more than they already have. Most will respond but in a non-engaged way.
If all of of your exes responses are ‘yes’, ‘no, ‘ok’, even to questions that require a longer response, they are telling you, they’d rather you do not talk to them.
Someone who wants to talk to you, will make an effort in some way or the other. They may not ask you questions about yourself but will at least try to answer the questions you ask them. They’ll also respond to a text or call you back even if it’s days after. They will at least respond because they care to keep you in their lives.
7. Your ex says you’re now ‘just friends” but will not agree to meet up/hang out
Friends make effort to be a friend. That’s what a friendship is about. But if your ‘friend’ (ex) is avoiding seeing you or spending any significant time in your presence, cancels plans they agreed every time, you are not ‘friends’, even if they say you are.
Granted, you are not in a relationship, there is no obligation to meet up or follow through on agreed plans, but someone if is intentionally avoiding you and giving you excuses that do not make sense, it is because they do not want to give you ‘ideas’ or create false hope.
It’s important to note that this sign alone does not mean there is no hope. If it’s in combination with 2 -3 other signs, then it is as a strong a sign as there can be.
8. Your ex is in “a relationship” with someone else
This one is a tricky one, since your ex being with someone else doesn’t necessarily mean you have no chance. The relationship may be a rebound or they’re just exploring their options.
But if your ex has been with the same person for over a year, or your ex has been in at least two rebound relationships and none of them is with you, it’s obvious that getting back with you is not on top of your ex’s “to do” list.
9. Your ex keeps telling you to move on
Most exes when they end a relationship think they are moving on and will tell you to move on too. That’s normal and expected. At the time, they don’t believe the two of you can get back together and moving on is the right course of action.
In cases where your ex is still leaving the door open, or not yet decided on whether they want you back or not, talk about moving on stops after a few weeks or months. But if 3 – 4 months later, or if in every other conversation your ex feels the need to tell you they want to move on or that you should move on, and even gets upset that you are not moving on, they are serious that they do not want you back.
10. You’ve been trying to get your ex back for a long-long time
There is no time limit on how long it takes to get your ex back. I’ve worked with men and women who got their ex back in a week and others in 3 years. But if you’ve been trying to get back together for so long and nothing has changed or things are getting even worse, it may be that your ex is never coming back.
But before you make that conclusion, make sure think deeply about what led to the break-up. What behaviours are you willing to change to make the relationship work better for both of you. Think about what your ex has been complaining about for a very long time. Can these things be changed or worked on?
Are your friends causing your marriage to deteriorate?
Friends – we all have them. None of them are the same. While they may share similar traits, none of them are the same type of friend. Some friends are more like family and other friends are more like acquaintances. Some friends are needy and other friends are very generous. Each friend that you have in your life should bring something to the table, just as you should provide a certain dynamic to that friend in return. That’s the great thing about friends – they’re God’s way of putting good people in your life to make it better. However, some people may not really be our friends and their presence can present various distracting and crippling effects into our life – especially if you’re married.
Married couples have a different dynamic when it comes to their friends because there is an added measure of checks and balance. Your marriage is the one friendship that should always come first. You’ll find that some people don’t understand that or perhaps they don’t share that same outlook. Therefore, it’s very important to nurture your marriage and ditch friendships that could potentially cause problems. Sometimes it’s not very easy to see these types of friends as hazardous – especially if you are blinded by other elements. However, if you stay true to yourself and seek out ways to rid yourself from these toxic people you’ll discover which friends could potentially break up your marriage.
I think it’s safe to say that all of us have had the “Stage Five Clinger Friend,” right? This friend is stuck to your like glue. No matter what you do, they feel like they have to invite themselves and be around you 24/7. While some friendships become more of a family element, it’s important to still maintain healthy boundaries. Which means you can’t be around each other all of the time and you cannot do everything together. There are times when it’s important for a husband and wife to have alone time – not only does this present a platform for couples to bond, but it also gives a couple the opportunity to connect away from any distractions. You’ll find that if you are constantly including your friend as the third wheel or consistently neglecting your spouse that things may begin to crumble.
Another type of friend to stay away from are the ones who don’t have the same morals and ethics that you do. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, it’s important for your friends to respect that. Moreover, you want to surround yourself with people that share your views because they’re part of the world you’re surrounding yourself with. If you live within negativity and drama, then that’s what you will put out. The same outcome is true when it comes to positivity – if you surround yourself with positive elements then that is what your outcome will be. Try to surround yourself with other Christians that will build you up. These faith believers can provide you with positive dynamics to support your marriage. You’ll find that negative people can be a wedge within your marriage.
Liars are another dangerous friend to have. Unfortunately, there are some people in the world today that receive their happiness by making others miserable. In most cases, these people are very good at convincing you that what they’re telling you is the truth when in fact it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Once you’ve identified your friend as a liar, it’s important to distance yourself. Oftentimes, Christians get caught up with trying to help others and be their shoulder. Constantly subjecting yourself to these lies will cause a rift within your marriage because you will have invested valuable time with someone who has no intentions of bringing positivity into your life. It’s important to remember that you cannot save someone from their lies. Unfortunately, they must address this problem within themselves and talk to God on their own.
It’s also important to recognize the friends who talk badly about the opposite sex. Perhaps this person is going through a difficult time or had a bad relationship – either way they’ve categorized an entire sex into a category that they’ve set out to hate. You’ll find that this friend will thrive during your conversations that involve frustrations or obstacles that you and your spouse are experiencing. While you may love your spouse very much, it can be extremely frustrating to separate the negative things you’re hearing when you’re going through a rough patch yourself. Never allow this friend to group your spouse into category because it’s not fair for your marriage to be attached to a negative stigma.
Another friend that you’ll want to cut out of your life is a close friend of the opposite sex. It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all had a close friend that caused rough waters with our spouse. While there was no real competition or sparks, your spouse may feel threatened by this individual for one reason or another. In some ways this can be brought on by self-esteem issues or prior events that took place in another relationship. Either way, remember you took a vow to honor your spouse through sickness and in health – honor that vow. Talk to your friend and explain to them the issues your spouse has and in the end it’s important that you pick your spouse. If you allow this friend to be part of your life, you’ll find that your marriage will always carry a third wheel that makes things uncomfortable. There will always be the ‘I’m not good enough factor’ and it’s important that your spouse feels like your number one.
Remember, there’s no definitive right or wrong way to live out your marriage. Everyone has different dynamics because every relationship is different. However, it’s important that the friends in your life bring positive elements to the table. You’ll have to discover the truth about your friends on your own, but once you uncover the truth do not wait on acting. Communicate with your spouse and make sure that you’re on the same page because the reality is if you’re friends with someone, then your spouse will also experience those positive or negative elements.
Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She’s the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book.
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
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If you got caught cheating, your marriage does not necessarily have to end. Even though admitting an affair to your spouse will cause much heartache and anger, your marriage can survive. But this will only happen if you truly regret your decision to cheat. If you decide to confess an affair, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just to get rid of your own guilt.
Should You Save Your Marriage?
Some people use affairs as a way to end the marriage. There is such immense unhappiness that an affair has developed to fill the void. Regardless of the reasons, some marriages will be salvageable and some might come to an end.
There are a number of reasons why a relationship might not survive an affair. When the betrayal is too painful or when both partners are not committed to mending the damage, it is likely that the marriage will end. Deciding the relationship is not salvageable after infidelity can be a painful but sometimes necessary conclusion.
Ways to Save a Marriage After Cheating
If you both decide to try to save your marriage, there are steps you must take. To rebuild your marriage and heal the hurt and mistrust your spouse feels after you cheated, you will have several tasks that you need to accomplish.
This sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised how hard it is for people to end the affair once and for all. Your marriage cannot survive if you choose to continue to engage in infidelity. Do not have any contact whatsoever with the other person.
Quit making excuses for the affair. Do not try to justify your adultery. There is no justification for cheating. While there may have been a number of factors that contributed to your behavior, you need to remember that you chose your actions.
Do not blame your spouse. You had a choice. You could have ended your marriage before cheating, but you decided to have an affair. That’s on your shoulders alone. Apologize to your spouse. Blaming your partner for your own actions makes it more difficult for your spouse to rebuild the trust that it will take for your marriage to survive the affair.
Make a Decision
Find out if your spouse wants to stay married. If you both want to save your marriage, then your marriage isn’t doomed. You both have a common goal. Both of you need to be committed to doing the work it will take to rebuild the trust and communication needed for your relationship to keep going.
If you stay together, your marriage as you knew it ended with the affair. If you decided to build a new marriage, do it together with honesty and love and look to your future together, not to the past.
You must be honest, with yourself and with your spouse if you want to move forward. You will have to untangle the web of lies that were likely woven in order to cover up an affair. Now is the time for complete transparency.
Be direct and open in order to help your relationship get to solid ground. Honesty in relationships is associated with lower conflict. But it is important for both partners to agree on these standards and talk about them often.
Keep Your Promises
If you say you are going to be somewhere, be there. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be dependable and don’t break your promises. You can’t help your spouse rebuild trust if you are not dependable and reliable.
Be Open and Patient
Your spouse’s trust level is low. Be open to letting your spouse know where you are, who you are with, and so on. Do not be secretive or evasive. Hiding things from your partner will only deepen their mistrust in you and your commitment to the relationship.
It is normal for your partner to feel betrayed and to be mistrustful. Acknowledge your spouse’s feelings and work toward rebuilding the trust that you have betrayed. Do not expect your spouse to trust you again right away. It will take time to regain your spouse’s trust.
Research has shown that not being able to talk to one another is one of the most commonly cited reasons why marriages fail. Be willing to listen and talk to your partner.
Give Your Spouse Some Space
It is okay to take a “time out” if emotions are running high or one of you is emotionally triggered. This does not mean you or your spouse will take off for an extended period of time. It just means that things need to cool down before you can be around each other again or talk about difficult topics.
Spend Time With Your Spouse
Along with letting your spouse have some alone time, you need to have together time too. Plan date nights and, when your spouse is ready, consider taking a getaway together.
Get Professional Help
If your spouse wants to see a marriage counselor, say yes. Saying “no” shows you really aren’t serious about rebuilding your marriage. You need to be open to discussing and identifying issues and problems in your own personal life and in your marriage. Emotionally-focused couples therapy is a good modality for working through the pain of infidelity and to help rebuild new ways of interacting.
While there is not a great deal of research on outcomes for couples who seek therapy after an affair, some evidence suggests that those who seek professional help often have optimistic results and are able to repair their relationship.
Be Willing to Forgive
You need to forgive yourself. This doesn’t mean you can let yourself off the hook, but you don’t need to carry buckets of guilt for the rest of your life.
In one study looking at how couples rebuild their marriage after an affair, researchers found that while the process was difficult, forgiveness played a critical role. Other actions such as social support, changed couple dynamics, and counseling also played important roles.
A Word From Verywell
You (or you both) may have been unhappy in your marriage for a long time. Cheating is not the answer as it is sure to make things worse, even if it felt good in the beginning. It is the courageous choice to see if you can honor your vows and do the necessary work to heal your relationship and move forward.