In this series, the writer discusses a very serious issue which is online cheating or extramarital relationships. In the first part, she analysed the negative impacts such relationships have on a marriage. In this part, she explains how a couple can move on and heal after cheating.
Is It Okay to Spy on Your Spouse Online?
Perhaps you suspect infidelity by your spouse, is it okay for you to login to their email and social media?
Some of you might say yes it is justified, but in truth Islam does not permit us to spy on one another.
If you are at that point where you feel as though you have to break into their private accounts, then you already stopped trusting them and are not communicating.
Consider for a moment the shame you will feel if you realize they did nothing wrong and now you have to explain to them how you went behind their back to spy. It is a better choice to speak honestly and openly with them about your feelings or contact a therapist. In a truly trusting relationship, both partners know the passwords of the other and feel no need to use them.
“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”[Quran 49:12]
How to Heal Your Marriage after Cheating
If you have already been cheated on or perhaps you were the cheater, it is possible to heal your marriage and move forward. I won’t sugarcoat this; it will be very difficult and require effort from both sides. Betrayal can stay within someone’s heart for years, for some they can never let it go.
1. Stop the affair completely. That other person must become metaphorically dead to you. If it happened on social media, delete your accounts associated with them. Blocking them is not enough, you can easily unblock them in a moment of weakness and you have already shown that you lack self-control online. What is more important to you, sharing Facebook videos or saving your marriage?
2. Accept responsibility. Take accountability of your actions and genuinely apologize without blaming anyone else for your own choices. We have free will, it was a choice to have an affair and healing requires accountability.
3. Communicate honestly. This one can get very emotional and raw. Questions might be asked that cause an explosion of painful emotions, but it has to come out and both sides need to be completely honest. If you cannot become honest, nothing will heal.
4. Don’t force forgiveness. This is not a time to start quoting ayas about mercy and expecting your spouse to instantly forgive you. Put yourself in their shoes, would you be able to easily forgive this type of betrayal? It will take time, a lot of time.
Trying to rush this healing process will only slow it down. If you were the one betrayed, do not think that just because you are sitting down to talk it out means you are required to forgive them or put on a timeframe.
5. Discuss why it happened. The affair is not the fault of the one who was betrayed, but in order to move forward both sides need to understand why this occurred in the first place.
Was one of the spouses feeling neglected and unloved because the other never talked to them and they went elsewhere for validation? Was one of the spouses feeling unloved because they were always being rejected sexually? These situations do not excuse their actions, but if you seek to understand the other person’s perspective it will help you move forward in healing and prevent future heartbreak.
6. Seek out an Islamic marriage counselor. Although it is possible to do this on your own, it will greatly help if you can bring a therapist into this. You can find a wealth of marriage counselors online and in person, but I strongly recommend you find someone that comes from a background of Islamic Psychology not just secular psychology.
You may have noticed communication seems to come up more than once in that list. As mentioned above, a marriage requires trust and communication. These are basic building blocks to any relationship. In order to rebuild your trust, it will require honest and consistent communication. Perhaps if you two had communicated honestly in the beginning, this never would have happened.
It’s a reality that online world has opened up a lot of temptations which are easy to access. If you suspect infidelity or something wrong with your spouse, communicate with them and let them know how you feel.
Although it is a challenge to heal and rebuild a marriage after cheating, but it is not impossible. Such mistakes change marriages, they might never go back to how they were, but with real work, forgiveness and patience they can become stronger. Couples can develop a more mature bond if they truly work on repairing and rebuilding their marriage.