Recovering from infidelity can be difficult for both partners in a relationship. In this article we will consider some of the steps that you need to take to save and strengthen a marriage or long term relationship after one or both of the partners has had an affair.
1. Establish Honesty
For recovering from infidelity to be successful, it is essential to make honesty the basis of your relationship from now on.
This does not necessarily mean telling each other everything. You can always say that you would prefer not to answer a question, or that there are things you do not want to know. You can even answer a question with a question – for example, asking the person why they want to know that. The important thing is not to lie.
If you are the injured partner, try not to ask for too many details of the affair. It is healthy to discuss some aspects of it, and have a certain openness between you. For example, you may want to know the person’s name. That way when the same name comes up in other contexts (for example, if you have a friend who shares the person’s first name) there will be no misunderstanding or unspoken undercurrents between you.
However, it is usually better not to know too much about the physical side of the affair. That kind of knowledge can be very destructive. If you feel that you absolutely have to know, at least wait a while before asking, and try to ask in a way that will not lead to your spouse telling you more than you want to know.
2. Rebuild Trust
This step should follow on automatically from the first. When you both know that you are able to be honest, trust will follow.
Remember that you have to trust yourself as well as your partner. You have to be prepared to be truthful with your partner, and trust yourself to handle it when they say something to you that hurts.
In many cases, people are not able to be honest because they do not have the self knowledge to see their own motivations clearly. In that situation it is impossible to rebuild trust, and you may need therapy, either individually or couples counseling.
3. Move On
One of the most important skills for recovering from infidelity is being able to leave the past behind you, live for the present and plan for the future.
Remember that we are all constantly changing. Even the most ingrained habits can be overcome. It is not fair to keep bringing up past infidelities in every argument that arises. If you do that, you will certainly drive your partner away.
Start to make plans for your future together. This does not need to be anything big; just make sure that you are both talking about what you want from life and from the relationship. Discuss what you are going to do on evenings and weekends.
Figure out a way of life that means you are both getting enough of what you really want and need. There will be compromise, but it should not be a question of one person always giving in to the other. Working together as a true partnership is the secret to recovering from infidelity.