How to recover from an affair after being so let down?

While the story has just broken regarding Jerry Falwell Jr and it remains to be seen what actually happened, it leaves one thinking about expectations we have, not only for leaders, but for a spouse. We enter a relationship with a certain level of commitment to each other as well as values. When those assumptions are broken, it has the potential to leave a relationship in shambles, causing irreparable damage. Keep reading to understand how to recover from an affair.

The reason the damage is often permanent is that betrayal is absolutely devastating. It’s one of the main reasons why it is so hard to recover from an affair. Even worse than the offense committed is the thought that there is a stark contrast between reality and the image you had of your partner. How will you ever be able to look at him or her in the same way? Coming to grips with this is really hard, but it can be done.

How to regain trust after an affair


Admitting what you did wrong is the first way to earn back trust– As the breach of trust is the biggest offense, you need to come clean. If you deny or excuse what you did, you will surely not win back the good faith that you broke. Be honest. The truth hurts, but it hurts more for your spouse to find out from someone else. Don’t think you’ll be able to cover up the lie indefinitely. While you may mean well as you don’t want to hurt your spouse, most couples I work with wish their spouse would have told them instead of finding it out elsewhere. It’s one thing to make a mistake. It’s another thing to keep a secret and deceive someone. Yes, it will be painful and your spouse may be extremely angry, but when they find out on their own about the affair or important details, like you fathered a child, etc… they will feel even more betrayed. This is also an opportunity to right the wrong by being transparent and truthful.

Be Proactive about regaining your spouse’s trust– Take an active role in repairing the marriage. It will show your spouse that you really want them. By cheating, you have raised a lot of doubts about who you are and your feelings about your partner. You need to go above and beyond to show your spouse that you want to stay in the relationship. As your word is unlikely to be trusted at this point, action will be the real way to show your spouse you mean it. This means understanding what your partner needs and showing that you can be a better spouse. When you take an active role, your spouse will see that you really mean it and that you are committed to change.

Be transparent and more sensitive– Regaining trust will take time in addition to all of the aforementioned measures. Your spouse is going to have doubts. They may feel like throwing in the towel. You may feel like you made amends and are committed, but they are likely to have a hard time with all that has transpired for quite a long time. Think about potential triggers and be more sensitive. If you are coming home late from work, be in contact. If you are going out, let your spouse know where and for how long. Don’t give them the opportunity for their mind to wander and second guess your every move. Be aware of any behavior that may look like you have something to hide. If you take your phone to the bathroom and get anxious about leaving it in public view, your spouse is likely to be suspicious. Whatever measures you can take to provide open access to social media, email, etc, the better. While your spouse may feel no need to play detective, the fact that you provide such transparency sends a message that you are serious and have nothing to hide.

It can take time to restore an image. Trust building measures must be implemented. With commitment and consistent effort, it is possible to shift your perspective of your partner. Instead of feeling, “I don’t really know the real you anymore,” you can begin to view the infidelity as a huge mistake, an aberration, but not a corruption or invalidation of the essential person you fell in love with years ago.


More inspiration on overcoming infidelity and recovering from an affair:

If you’re looking for counseling after an affair, don’t hesitate or be embarrassed to reach out. There’s nothing more important than keeping your family together.

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact or