It usually takes time, years even, to build deep trust. However, that trust can be lost in a heartbeat. When we consider the high rate of infidelity, perhaps the even higher divorce rate is less surprising. This is a giant issue for any couple to overcome. You can repair a damaged relationship. You can earn back broken trust. It’s a very long and winding road. However, this road can lead to resolution.
What is Infidelity?
This definition, of course, is up to each couple. Most commonly, we call it “cheating” when a person has sexual relations with someone other than their partner. Other definitions include:
- Engaging in non-sexual but deeply emotional connections
- In open marriages, certain acts or behaviors may not be allowed
- Virtual cheating, e.g. web-based sex chats or relationships
Why Some People Cheat
- There may be an underlying emotional issue
- They’re dealing with sex addiction
- They want to end a relationship
- Sometimes it’s due to one-time circumstances
- It’s used as a way to “get back” at your partner for something
- Bored with their or partner and their sex life
- The relationship feels too much like family: siblings rather than lovers
- Fear of getting old and the excitement of life passing them by
Despite all this, your relationship can be saved. Be honest with each other. It will be a difficult process yet recovery can and does happen.
6 Ways You Can Repair Your Relationship after Trust Has Been Broken
You both must believe it can happen
You can fix trust. Accepting this is often hard. It’s even harder to believe it. A good therapist (see step 6 below) can help that belief grow. Yet it must come from the both of you first. Everyone will have an opinion. Their advice may or may not be helpful. But only you and your partner can fully understand your situation. Agree to believe together before moving forward. If not, move to step 5.
The cheater must take full responsibility
You have betrayed your partner’s trust. Hence, you must hold yourself accountable. Apologize. Tell the story. Answer all questions. Immediately cut off all contact with the other person—permanently. Recognize that the lies and deception are what continues to corrode the trust. It’s often much easier to get passed the affair itself than the fact that your partner deceived you.
Do not deflect blame
In stressful moments, you may want to say something like, “It wouldn’t have happened if you had been there for me.” Don’t deflect blame. Your partner is grieving and angry. A good way to begin earning back trust is to be as honest as possible.
Commit to a long and challenging process
If you aim for repaired trust, there is no quick fix. Don’t set a deadline. If you betrayed your partner, don’t rush them. The person who cheated often wants to move on as soon as possible which is often very upsetting to the person who has been cheated on. Patience is one of the most important factors in post-infidelity recovery. Again, the cheater must not expect all to be forgiven and forgotten for a long, long time
Not all trust can be repaired. Accept this.
In reality, some relationships do not recover from infidelity. If one or both of you feel it’s over, you must speak up. This doesn’t automatically mean it’s over. Trying to fix things doesn’t mean you will. But nothing productive can happen unless you are both forthcoming about your feelings and needs. If the person cheated has trouble trusting again, say it. If the person who cheated cannot guarantee it won’t happen again, say it.
Talk to friends/Go to couples counseling
This is definitely not the time to go it alone. You may have always leaned on your partner during tough periods. Now you must find others to listen and get comfort from. From there, it’s crucial that you find a therapist to guide you on this journey. You will need a neutral and experienced mediator. Undergoing the process of couples counseling together has the potential to remind you of the bonds that first connected you.
Recovery from infidelity is a tough road. But with mutual commitment and experienced, professional help you can rebuild trust. You can have the loving relationship you long for.