Infidelity is experienced by many couples, and if it happens to you, you may begin to feel helpless in your relationship. Whether you are the one who has cheated or the one cheated on, you both can experience pain, loneliness, and upset. But don’t give up hope – healing is possible. Although it takes hard work, there are several ways that a couple can restore and rebuild a happy, healthy relationship after unfaithfulness occurs.
Here are 5 Ways to Repair Your Marriage After Cheating
1. Acknowledge the Underlying Cause
Cheating often occurs because of a certain disconnect within the relationship; it is essential to understand what caused this behavior in you or your partner. There are several types of disconnections you could experience that could lead to cheating. A big factor in relationships that experience issues with infidelity is an emotional disconnection.
If you or your partner have cheated, it may be a result of not feeling emotionally validated, or you feel like your emotional needs are not being met. Emotional needs require you to feel valued, worthy, and loved by your partner. If those needs are not being met, it can be easy to pursue someone outside of your relationship that is feeding your emotional needs.
Another possible cause for cheating could be related to the attachment style of your partner. According to attachment theory, the emotional bond and connection you share with your caregiver as a child leads to how you form relationships as an adult. If you experienced a childhood where your emotional needs were not met, and you did not form trusting, reliable, and meaningful bonds with your caregiver, it could lead to difficulty in your adult relationships.
2. Commit to Quit
Cheating must be stopped completely for your relationship restoration to be successful. It is extremely important that the person who cheated cuts off all communication with the person they were having an affair with. This lets the person who was cheated on find comfort that there will no longer be a relationship with that outside person.
After cutting off communication, you must promise your partner that the past affair will no longer continue, and that no future affairs will occur. By making a promise, you are creating a boundary together, and a standard to follow. This can help rebuild trust.
Contrarily, any urges to cheat in the future need to be avoided. Any trust that is established after an affair will likely be destroyed if another affair occurs. Part of the promise to not cheat is to hold the person that cheated accountable, and to give the person who was cheated on a chance to trust again.
3. Honest Discussions
Despite the difficulty of being honest in a situation of infidelity, the person who cheated and the person who was cheated on need to have the courage to engage in open and safe discussions about the incident.
The person who has cheated may not understand the reasons for their actions, and they must discover the possibilities of why they acted out in that way. By having honest and open discussions about the infidelity, the person who cheated may uncover some thoughts or intentions of why they became involved in the affair.
Part of the honest discussions includes unveiling some information that may be difficult to discuss. The person who cheated must openly talk about the incident, but in a way that allows their partner to feel secure.
Before discussing any hidden information, you and your partner should discuss boundaries for the conversation. If the person who was cheated on is willing to hear what the person who cheated has hid from them, the person who cheated must be honest with their partner (no matter how uncomfortable it may be).
In turn, if the person who was cheated on has any questions about the incident, the person who cheated should be willing to give honest answers, but be mindful of the pain and trauma their partner could experience from harsh details. If both partners are honest with their feelings, respectful to one another, and open, it could lead to healing in the long run.
4. Rebuilding Trust and Healing
After all issues are addressed and handled, restoring the relationship can begin. It should be established that there is always an outlet for open communication. It is essential for both partners to listen to each other’s needs when necessary.
The person who cheated should be receptive to their partner’s needs and respect any concerns they may have. The person who cheated must exhibit courage as their hurt partner talks about their feelings, which could be difficult. If the hurt partner is questioning the relationship, the person who cheated needs to understand that listening to their thoughts is important for any chance of healing.
Another important aspect of rebuilding trust and healing is to be vulnerable. Both you and your partner need to be open to each other’s thoughts, feelings and ideas about the relationship.
Some things may be difficult to address, but it is essential for healing. By being vulnerable, you are showing each other that you are willing to expose your true emotions about the situation and each other.
When the time is right, it may be beneficial to participate in enjoyable events together. You can go on a dinner date, watch your favorite film together, or spend an evening doing something you used to love doing together. Regardless, it is important to take a break from negativity, and try to include positive moments during this time. It can restore a connection, and lead to healing and rebuilding trust.
5. Seek Marriage Counseling
Sometimes we can’t heal on our own, and that’s okay. Marriage counseling can help you and your partner to set goals and heal your relationship. Through counseling, a therapist can help you to identify the underlying cause of the affair that occurred.
After you understand the reasons for the affair, you can discuss each of your emotions, if your emotional needs are being met, and what forms of communication are needed to make sure those needs are fulfilled.
The goals that you set in counseling can teach you and your partner new ways to rebuild trust, and it can promote healing for your relationship.
Cheating is a hardship that many married couples face, but it doesn’t mean you are doomed. If you are experiencing issues regarding an affair, or feel that an affair may occur, be proactive in finding a way to solve this issue with your partner. Sometimes, you just lose touch with each other, but finding a way back is always possible.
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Wedge, M. (2013, September 18). After the Infidelity: Can Counseling Help? Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/suffer-the-children/201309/after-the-infidelity-can-counseling-help.
Weiss, R. (2017, March 2). After Cheating: Restoring Relationship Trust. Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201703/after-cheating-restoring-relationship-trust.
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Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.