Before You Say It’s Over Probably close to 30% of the people I talk to say they think their marriage is over. In their limited experience, their spouse is acting as though it’s over. Many are justifiably so filled with hurt and pain they wonder if they can forgive, move on, trust again or ever have a life with their cheating spouse. Some of the unfaithful also wonder if they can spend the rest of their life with a spouse that, in their mind, they’ve never truly connected with. Before you say it’s over, I’d like to invite you to consider the possibility that perhaps it’s not, and that maybe it’s a chapter that’s over and not your marriage? There are several chapters a marriage in crisis goes through. The chapter of disclosure. Until the chapter of disclosure is completely written, it’s unlikely the marriage can be truly evaluated. The entrance of new information or drip feeding your mate, only exacerbates the pain and makes things worse. Until all the information is out, the next chapter of healing can’t begin or take shape at all. If total disclosure is not accomplished the marriage is paralyzed. The chapter of being willing to pursue expert help. Without expert help, the marriage stands little hope of finding new momentum and ultimate healing. I’ve referenced the need for expert help time and time again, but the fact is, without this level of help, it’s too early and too soon and probably too chaotic to say it’s over. The entrance of expert, infidelity-specific help will be a necessary chapter for any couple who is trying to heal from the effects of infidelity and/or addiction. If you’ve never received help from a therapist who has been through infidelity before personally, and is a licensed therapist with at minimum 10 years’ experience treating it, I’d have to say it’s too soon to say it’s over. If you’re spouse has no desire to pursue healing, well, expert help will not work but I find that to be the case less than 5% of the time. The chapter of actually getting expert help and putting the work in. It’s one thing to get help from an expert like Rick Reynolds; it’s another to actually do the work. Often times I’ll ask a couple I’m working with questions like “did you do this…..or what about doing this, did you do that?” When they reply “no we didn’t get around to it”, then I know we have a disconnect. If one or both spouses will not do the work, we have a breakdown in the process and most likely, a true evaluation of the potential of the marriage cannot be made. It’s only when at least one spouse is willing to do the work that the marriage can receive an accurate evaluation. Not both spouses you say? No. If one spouse is willing and the other is not, then it may be the proverbial writing on the wall. Or, if that spouse who is willing decides to take action to possibly get the couple unstuck, it’s at that critical point that the unfaithful will then respond. Examples include pursuing an attorney, filing for divorce, seeking a separation, or the like. It’s when those steps are taken that an otherwise unwilling unfaithful spouse will often times wake up and say “hold on here….let’s talk about this, maybe we should……...” It’s almost comical that when the betrayed spouse, in these particular situations, decides to take deliberate action that the other spouse will respond. However, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will mostly get what you’re getting. The chapter of a 90 day window (not for all but for some). For those who are uncertain if they want to return to the marriage, both unfaithful and betrayed, what will need to be implemented is expert help and then possibly about a 90 day window to assess the potential of restoration and the willingness of both spouses, primarily the unfaithful, to do what it takes to give the marriage a chance. It will have to be a 90 day window of no contact with the affair partner, as well as the care and recovery protocol of an expert and the goal of progress, not perfection. Without such a window of time to see how it goes, it’s just too early to tell. Perhaps they (the unfaithful) will wake up. Perhaps the betrayed can find healing and forgiveness. Maybe removing the third party (affair partner) will help clear up the fog and lack of discernment within the mind of the unfaithful. A window of 90 days is perfect to give the recovery process time to work and show itself successful. Alternatively, it’s an excellent amount of time to reveal how unwilling one or both spouses are to pursue recovery with a dedicated mindset. The chapter of moving forward, courageously. I have always said it takes more courage to give restoration a chance than it does to cut ties and move on. Exceptions include perhaps domestic violence or a refusal to commit to a recovery pathway. Samantha could have filed immediately and said “Nope, no way. I won’t be married to an adulterer. I won’t even give him a shot.” In the court of public opinion, almost no one would have disagreed with her. But, she gave it a shot. It took more courage than she’s ever utilized in her entire life (her words) to pursue restoration and give both recovery a chance, and me a chance. It will take courage to pursue any successful and redeeming protocol of recovery. Every story has a bad chapter or two. It’s called conflict. Conflict is what sets the tone for the chapters on victory and breakthrough and restoration. Perhaps you’re just stuck in a bad chapter and there are many more chapters waiting?