Learning that your partner was physically intimate with someone else can leave you reeling. But despite how painful it can be, infidelity is not necessarily the beginning of the end for every marriage. For some couples, an extramarital affair even acts as a powerful, if unwanted, catalyst for positive growth within the relationship. As devastating as you may feel if your husband or wife committed adultery there is hope for your relationship if you are both 100% committed to one another and making it work.
How Do You Reestablish Trust After Infidelity?
The most difficult part of staying together after cheating is reestablishing trust. It is possible (but hard work) to regain trust after cheating. If you and your partner would like to work through this experience together, we strongly encourage you to consider the following suggestions.
- Start Relationship Counseling
- The Cheater Must Express True Remorse
- The Spouse Who Was Cheated on Must Forgive
- Establish Weekly Communication “Meetings”
- Set New Boundaries
Attend Couples Therapy
When a person discovers that their spouse has been unfaithful, the emotions they will grapple with can be incredibly distressing: grief, sadness, fear, and anger. The partner who stepped out of the marriage will be dealing with difficult feelings too; guilt, shame, fear, or even resentment. These feelings are incredibly complex and can affect your emotions, mental clarity, decision-making capacity, and even physical health. Finding professional help as you seek to identify, appropriately express, and integrate these feelings is essential.
Getting into couples counseling as soon as possible can also help both partners:
- Navigate the tumultuous post-affair landscape of their marriage
- Uncover the root issues within the relationship and create a safe environment in which to discuss and address these issues
- Gain tools to begin rebuilding connection and trust
Both couples’ counseling and individual counseling can be beneficial for people whose lives have been touched by an affair. Don’t be afraid to meet with a few different therapists until you find one that is a good fit. Be mindful that if one partner (particularly the partner who had the affair) is unwilling to attend therapy, this could indicate a disconnect that could impede successful reconciliation. If your husband or wife cheated and does not want to go to therapy it might be time to discuss other options.
Ensure There is Genuine Remorse
Rebuilding trust after an affair is not about shaming one partner and pitying the other partner. It’s not about the blame game. It’s not about making one person the victim and the other person the villain.
For the one who cheated, rebuilding trust is about sitting with and expressing genuine remorse. It’s more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” It means taking full ownership of one’s actions and acknowledging the hurt and pain that one’s actions have caused.
For the one who was cheated on, rebuilding trust starts with being willing to forgive, while understanding that forgiveness is a daily practice, not a future destination.
Establish Weekly Communication Appointments
Establishing a time and place to communicate with one another openly sets the future of your relationship up for success. If you and your spouse are not connecting on an emotional level there is likely to be much less physical intimacy. Something as simple as a 30 minute appointment with your partner to really talk about how each of you are feeling without any distractions can help redevelop the bond your relationship needs.
Agree to New Boundaries
After infidelity has been disclosed, a couples therapist can help you and your partner decide upon appropriate boundaries and ground rules to establish as you move forward in your relationship. Your new boundaries must strike the right balance between holding each other accountable and not becoming like a nanny state, or over controlling, marital relationship.
Boundaries that can be helpful for couples who are recovering from an affair include:
- Going no contact with former affair partners
- Attending weekly therapy sessions
- Not permitting name-calling, insults, or yelling
- Redirecting or pausing conversations centered around gratuitous affair details
Has Your Relationship Been Affected by an Affair?
Affairs are painful. If your marriage has been touched by infidelity, be patient and kind to yourself as you take the necessary steps forward. Contact The Marriage Restoration Project today to ask about our immersive coupoles counseling retreats and group weekend marriage workshops or schedule a free consultation call with a couples therapy appointment