The Three R's of Successful Rebuilders(1)

Author Linda J. MacDonald From How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair 6 years ago 13824

Successful Rebuilders face the fact that their season of betrayal will require significant time and effort to repair. Rebuilders don’t allow themselves to be discouraged by this. They accept the challenge with humility. They believe that in the long run, a restored marriage is usually better than a devastating divorce or everyone concerned. They courageously pursue their assignment to undo the damage they have caused, despite knowing that it will take far longer than they like. They also realize the raw intensity won’t last forever. When unfaithful spouses make a concerted effort to become trustworthy persons again, they pave the way for their wounded spouses to retrust them, one step at a time. Along with "getting it", successful rebuilders possess three other critical qualities: resilient, realistic and respectful.


Rebuilding a marriage after the wrecking ball of an affair is no easy task. It takes resilience to withstand all the emotional ups and downs once the truth comes to light. Not everyone has the strength, stamina or goodwill to face their wrongs and hang in there with a severely wounded spouse. Successful Rebuilders decide they are in it for the long haul.

They have the insight to know that had they chosen to run away rather than stand and fight for their marriages, they still would not escape their pasts. They realize the damage, shame, and painful reminders would hover beneath the surface forever, only to rise up at unexpected moments, even if they move on to a new marriage partner. Holidays, children weddings, or bumping into friends from the former life would see to that.

Instead, Successful Rebuilders choose the more difficult path of resilient perseverance. They know it takes guts to face the pain they have caused and the fact that their marriages are forever altered. But rather than fear this challenge, they choose to stay and do the hard work of recovery-both of their own broken states and the condition of their marriages.

They learn to tolerate the initial roller-coaster ride of unpleasant emotions, grow in their abilities to communicate, and expand their capacities for true intimacy. They work hard to restore their integrity and make amends with those they have wounded. They are determined to stay the course of recovery, despite setbacks and times of discouragement.


Successful Rebuilders are also realistic.

They know that the innocence of their marriage is gone. They do not assume that just because they are sorry for their offenses that their spouses will come running back into their arms, ready to forgive and re-unite. They know that broken trust takes time to repair, and even then, scars will remain. While they do not expect instant healing of their relationships, they do hold out for the opportunity to earn a second chance.

Once their marriages are on more solid footings in the years to come, Successful Rebuilders are not startled when occasional reminders of their past indiscretions still crop up. Rather than resent such intrusions, they immediately seek to soothe their spouses,thankful they have fought against the forces that sought to destroy their families and won. They find satisfaction, knowing they chose the way of growth rather than the way of retreat.


When people engage in affairs, they rarely asked their spouses ahead of time, attracted to a colleague at work. Is it OK with you if I go to bed with him/her ? Betrayers generally made private decisions about their extra-marital involvements. Even if they fell into an affair by surprise or a moment of weakness such as an unplanned one night stand, at some point the unfaithful person made a unilateral choice to step outside the marriage.

Successful Rebuilders understand that when they crossed the line into romance with an outside person, they deprived their spouses of an important “vote” on the matter. They realize they violated their spouses marital rights of exclusivity and privacy. To compensate for these violations, Successful Rebuilders respect the offended spouse's choices on how to proceed post-affair.

Karen Johnson, a counselor in Maui, Hawaii, says to wounded spouses, "You get to." In other words, the betrayer broke all the rules without permission, so noe the spouse “gets to” choose the next move. Successful rebulders understand the vow-breaking nature of their transgressions and respect their partners’ rights to have choices of their own.

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