How to overcome infidelity
It is an overwhelming moment: natural anger, confusion, rage, disbelief and hurt when you realise that your partner has cheated. There may be conflicted feelings feeling devastated but still in love with a partner that has so wounded you. The temptation is to be angry to lash out, to leave. Sometimes the end of the relationship will be the right decision, but it is important to overcome your initial anger before making a decision for you and your relationship.
You can rebuild a relationship after an affair but it takes work. There is a loss of trust and that needs to be rebuilt. Rebuilding the trust and the relationship is a process that takes commitment from you both. Perhaps surprisingly, many couples report the relationship to be stronger after surviving infidelity.
Every relationship is unique and thus the steps that will help are unique. However, some common elements will help in each case.
Consider couples therapy
There will be strong feelings and emotions around for both partners. If the relationship is to recover, good communication about the infidelity and any problems in the relationship will be key. Although relationship counselling may be painful, it offers both partners a safe neutral place to discuss their feelings and the best way forward.
Being open and honest about what happened
Understanding what happened is often the key to the start of the recovery process for the person who was betrayed. Being open and transparent and answering honestly any questions that they might have makes recovery more likely.
Rebuilding and recovering the trust in the relationship
The partner who has cheated needs to apologise and agree to end all contact with the person they cheated with. Yet, a simple “I am sorry” is not sufficient. Their partner needs to see that they understand the hurt and emotional damage that their actions has caused and that they are taking on the responsibility for making a difference. It may be in the early stages of recovery that they need to be more transparent and responsive about their movements and communications to help rebuild the trust.
Examining your relationship overall
While the responsibility for affair lies squarely with the partner who cheated, it is important to see the event in the context of your relationship. The person who has cheated started to look outside of the relationship and this is often an indicator of problems within. It is important to understand what changes may need to take place.
Ultimately to be able to recover from infidelity takes forgiveness, rebuilding of trust and the strengthening of the relationship bonds. This can take time and effort by both partners.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author, living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice, he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.