Relationship Connection: Can 2 people be friends after they had an affair?

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Question

I have a difficult dilemma. A few years ago my wife and I were great friends with another couple. Eventually, my wife came forward to me and confessed that she had an affair with the husband of this other couple. They both had decided to end the affair on their own.

My wife was remorseful and we decided to stay married and work through it. I feel we improved our marriage and became stronger. The other couple, however, divorced.

A few months ago, I saw that my wife had been texting this other man. Not only that, but she went to lunch with him and other activities in a group setting with him when I wasn’t present.

I was stunned and concerned. My wife actually wishes we could go back to old times and do things as a group again. She doesn’t see anything wrong with having a continued connection with this man.

I am stuck – worried something will happen again. Yes, I have forgiven them, but should it mean that I don’t need to be concerned? I don’t doubt my wife continues to love me, but I think she is going close to the edge of the cliff with this continued connection.

What is the right answer with forgiveness and moving forward? Do I just ignore it thinking I have forgiven her?

Answer

You can forgive your wife for having the affair, but you can’t move forward in your marriage if she’s rekindling a relationship with her previous lover. It would be understandable if you were nervous with her connecting with another man, but when it’s the same guy she cheated with, your warning alarms are going to ring loudly.

Couples who heal from infidelity turn toward each other and let the other relationship go. The unfaithful partner has a responsibility to turn away from the other person and focus on building connection, trust and security with their injured spouse. They have a long-term responsibility to create conditions that foster complete confidence that an affair won’t happen again.

There are two major concerns with your situation: First, your wife sought out a renewed relationship with him; second, she began this relationship with him again without talking to you about it first.

In the first concern, he’s not a safe individual and he’s no friend to you or your marriage. All marriages, especially betrayed marriages, need lots of support from people who encourage couples to turn to each other. I highly doubt he has any interest in turning her back to you.

In the second concern, the secrecy, hiding, and sneaking around only undermines the trust and security you need to heal from her infidelity. If she had approached you to see if it were possible to be friends with him again, you could discuss how this would affect your relationship. When she moves forward and decides to connect with him, she is putting him before the marriage.

You have some important conversations ahead of you. Why does she need to have a friendship with him? Why is he so important to her? What promises has she made to him? Why isn’t he coming through the front door of the marriage and reconnecting with you?

I hope she will remember the pain she caused you and work to see how her current behaviors are threatening the trust she worked to restore.

Forgiving her frees you from the toxic emotions that come with betrayal. Trusting her completely depends on her behavior. She’s not giving you a reason to trust her. I don’t believe it’s possible for a couple to have a safe and secure marriage post-affair if one partner continues to have a secret relationship with their lover. The hard reality is that your wife is starting another affair with him, despite what she tells you. Emotional affairs of the heart are just as damaging as physical affairs.

Don’t stop talking about this with her until you feel things are fully resolved. There is so much distorted thinking during affairs.

Pick up a copy of “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass and educate yourselves on the nature of emotional and physical infidelity. It’s not too late to save your marriage if she’s willing to end that relationship and put your marriage first.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Bob August 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    It’s fine as long as he doesn’t mind his wife having sex with other men. I guess some folks are into “open marriages”. i hear it’s very common in the gay community

    • .... August 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Your stupidity and ignorance has no bounds does it ! .get some help and take your meds. ..and may the good lord above watch over you

    • ladybugavenger August 10, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      It’s common in the polygamy community

  • old school August 10, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Deja vu, women have the uncanny ability to make you believe the most outrageous lies, even when looking straight down the barrel of a smoking gun. Denial can obscure the facts leaving you a hapless victim at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances. Depending on other signals (fighting, distance, lack of intimacy). She could definitely be on the way out. You can’t stop destiny, And if you could, you really
    want to go through it again, and again, and
    again? Admit the inevitable and let nature
    take it’s course, the more guilt you can lay
    on it the better. It’s been my experience the
    guilty partner is a lot more agreeable in a
    divorce than one you’ve fought tooth and nail, and look at the bright side, two shallow people like like that won’t stay together long anyway.

  • Proud Rebel August 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I really have to wonder just what it will take for the guy in this article to actually grow a set! How many times are you gonna let your wife and her boyfriend put the horns on you, before you wise up and kick her out?

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