You cheated. There may be a thousand reasons; but to your ex, that’s all that matters.
This is obviously a sensitive subject, and a huge hurdle for any relationship. Many people feel it should just be the end, that the damage done by an affair is irreparable. But many others, myself included, think there is always hope if both parties want to make it work and restore trust in the relationship.
It would be impossible to write everything needed to be explored in this brief article. But we can look at some important issues.
The key to restoring trust in a relationship is a change in attitude and behavior. The only way to save a relationship after an affair is by first restoring, then rebuilding and finally strengthening trust to even greater levels than were there originally.
In terms of attitude, if you cheated on your ex it’s because something in your attitude made it possible for you to go to someone else. You need to look closely at what allowed that attitude to exist. Was there something fundamentally wrong with your relationship? If so, it needs to be explored and fixed.
What were you hoping to find? Excitement? Danger? Better sex? More attention? If everything had been perfect, you wouldn’t have cheated. What was it inside of you that drove you to have an affair? Work on it. And what was it in the relationship? Work on that, too. Usually it’s a combination of your own feelings and issues, and problems between you and your partner.
Often repairing the fundamental issues in a relationship and in yourself requires professional counseling. Don’t reject this idea. It just might be the key to saving your relationship – and making you a better person. Even if your relationship doesn’t survive, you’ll be better prepared for the next one, and ready to be a better, more loyal partner.
Once you have a handle on what was going on for you and your partner, you have to take action. All the talking in the world won’t repair a relationship. Doing what’s necessary and right just might.
Remember, the biggest challenge is restoring trust. So start by making promises – and keeping them. Start small, with things you know you can follow-through on. If you aren’t ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you can keep a promise, don’t make it. The first time you break one, especially an important one, the trust is lost again, and maybe for good this time.
Once your partner begins to see that you are dependable, reliable, TRUSTWORTHY, they will gradually believe that you can be counted on for bigger commitments.
It’s not easy. And it takes time. Your partner needs to be reassured, repeatedly, that things have changed – and won’t go back to the old way again. You may have to apologize a lot, over and over again for awhile. Your partner might be harsh, reminding you of how you let him or her down. If you want it to work, you will have to be patient. But hang in there, and it will pay off.
If your partner is still there, then he or she still cares. They aren’t just trying to torture you. They’re trying to heal, and hold on to your relationship.
On the other hand, in time, your partner needs to let go. You can’t live in guilt forever; and no relationship can survive that kind of pressure. Be understanding and patient, and encourage your partner to move on as soon as he or she can.
As crazy as this sounds, try to look at the affair as an opportunity – for you and your partner to repair serious problems in your relationship and, in time, to create a new, better, even more loving one.
Restoring trust takes time, work and patience. But it is possible. Don’t give up – and you both might end up with a more loving, TRUSTING relationship than you ever imagined possible.