Can you recover after infidelity?
Yes, it is possible to rebuild your relationship. However, it requires a healing process. It isn’t going to happen overnight.
One way of looking at is to see that you aren’t going to go back to your old relationship. Instead, you will be building a new relationship.
Building a new relationship takes time, trust and respect. Restoring a relationship after one or both partners has cheated takes even more commitment.
If both partners are willing to do the work, then there are things that you can do to heal. The person cheated on will need answers. The person who cheated will need to make amends. Then both partners will need to take steps to re-establish safety in the relationship.
Talking About Infidelity in Order to Heal
Before you can move forward with the healing process, you will need to talk about the infidelity. A couples’ therapist can help you navigate these difficult conversations. The person who cheated needs to answer all questions honestly, openly and without defensiveness.
You will also need to figure out what led to the affair. You can work together with a therapist to create a narrative about the affair. This helps you to find ways together not to repeat the past.
Sitting with the Pain of Infidelity
There is a popular saying that reminds us “the only way out is through.” It may sound a bit cliché, but when it comes to recovery, there is solid truth in it. The only way to recover after infidelity is to go through the pain. The person who cheated needs to bear witness to the pain that they caused their partner. Both parties will feel pain, and both people need to cope individually and together with those feelings. It is important to express all of the many feelings that arise after infidelity.
Deciding to Stay in the Relationship
Not all relationships are meant to be. Before you can rebuild your relationship, you both need to decide if you want to be together. You may decide that you don’t want to try again with a person who cheated on you. The person who cheated may have been ambivalent about the relationship in the first place. Respect yourself and your partner enough to be honest about what you want.
Building a New Relationship Together
Although you have a history together, you won’t be going back to your old relationship. Things have changed because of infidelity. Instead, you will be entering into a new relationship together. Here are some steps you can take to build this new relationship:
- The affair must be terminated. No second chances here.
- Identify, ask for and meet each other’s expressed needs. For example, you may ask each other to call at least once during the workday. Committing to and keeping promises rebuilds trust.
- Start getting to know each other again. One useful tool is Love Maps, which Dr. John Gottman writes about in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This is an exercise in open-ended questions for getting to know each other.
- Acknowledge each other’s efforts. Make note of the small victories.
Research Indicates You Can Recover After Infidelity
In his book What Makes Love Last, Dr. Gottman cites research that suggests there is a good prognosis for couples who want to recover after infidelity. The research shows that couples dealing with an affair enter therapy with higher levels of unhappiness than other couples. This is understandable. However, data reflects that they end up with the same level of satisfaction as other couples by the time their therapy sessions end.
Are you feeling unsure about whether or not there was infidelity in your marriage? Learn more about the types of infidelity Also, please reach out for a consultation, let’s see how we can work together to bring you peace of mind.