As 2017 opens, one key factor that will determine the tone of relationships between spouses and partners is the trust issue. It is the one factor that can swiftly lead the relationship to “end zone”.
Many couples ask me how they can come out of the guilt trip that obtains after one spouse or both have cheated on the other. Typically one spouse when dissatisfied in the relationship for one thing or the other, the person considers to be serious might have an affair to prove a point, to seek closure or just because that partner is “out of love” with the other partner. But, if they are able to weather the storm after all the ruckus, what remains is a lack of semblance or sanity in the relationship and a deep sense of confusion. There are some that are completely distraught about the affair and genuinely wish they could turn back the hand of the clock and put things right. For these couples, the question becomes: so you were unfaithful, and now you want to repair your broken relationship. How do you start rebuilding trust?
Bear in mind that trust is one of those things that do not have an end time for recovery. Some people might be able to push it aside and move on but for many, they are unable to shake it off and can no longer look at the partner in the eye without imagining that partner with a lover. Well, how can they get over the affair and enjoy each other once again? Be warned that infidelity causes significant damage to a relationship. Unfaithfulness and dishonesty typically require a long repair period.
While some couples aren’t willing or able to mend their relationship, others do learn how to rebuild trust and move forward.
Here are 6 tips on how to save a marriage after the affair…
•Take responsibility for the infidelity
Don’t sidestep accountability or blame the other party as the seducer – admit your wrongdoing and ask to be forgiven. It doesn’t matter if you feel like your partner helped push you into the arms of another either. In other words, although his inattentiveness to your needs, uncaring attitude and complete disregard pushed you into the arms of your next-door neighbor, admit that you were wrong and truly apologize for your deception. Be honest and answer any questions your guy might have. Only then will the relationship have a fair chance at redemption and you’ll have the possibility of a second chance.
• Recognize the weakness, gap or trigger that led to the affair
Many problems can contribute to infidelity, including substance abuse that leads to impaired judgment, putting yourself in the path of temptation and refusing to acknowledge warning signs of sexual attraction or emotional vulnerability to a third party.
“Most cheaters are normal folks who get lost in not taking care of themselves and their marriage,” says Steven Solomon, Ph.D., author of Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild an Affair-Proof Your Marriage (New Harbinger). Talk to your partner about your deficiencies. He’ll appreciate your honesty and initiating efforts to build a better relationship and regain trust in your commitment.
• Take inventory of your relationship
After dealing with your own personal failures, talk to your partner about any mutual problems or weaknesses in the relationship. Some affairs originate from boredom, frustration, irritation, or love of adventure. But sometimes, one person does things that may unsuspectingly encourage the partner to seek comfort with someone else.
Common reasons include lack of appreciation, unresolved conflict, abuse and overwhelming responsibilities. Identify these reasons and work with your mate to address them, so that both of you can avoid future problems.
• Establish healthy boundaries with other men
In rebuilding trust after an affair, you need to go out of your way to demonstrate your willingness to be careful with potential temptation.
For some couples, this means avoiding close friendships with the opposite sex, not being flirtatious, and when possible, not being alone with someone who has shown personal interest in you. Steps like this can help in rebuilding trust with a suspicious mate. “[He] shouldn’t even have to ask!” says John H. Sklare, Life script personal coach. “[You] should do this voluntarily out of love, compassion, respect and honor.” Make him comfortable again with you. Assure him that you do not have eyes for any third party. Sometimes that might involve you being some sort of recluse by avoiding your once social butterfly attitude. Decline those invitations where you are likely to drink and flirt. This would seriously put you at risk and will make your partner jittery.
• Rebuild your credibility and integrity
Whether or not your guy asks, check in periodically to let him know where you are and what you’re doing. This will reassure him that you’re where you’re supposed to be, doing what you should be doing. Encourage him to call whenever he wants.
“A person has to be willing, at least for a time, to be transparent,” Solomon says. “You have to be able to see emails, have passwords, see calls and vent without getting impatient or defensive.”
Maintain a consistent schedule so that your habits become predictable. Your mate will respect the fact that you’re making yourself available and your life open to show your seriousness about rebuilding trust.
• Consider counseling
If your relationship has serious or longstanding issues, and staying faithful might be difficult, make an appointment with a therapist. “Forgiveness does not mean forgive and forget,” Neuman says.
It will take time to rebuild trust after an affair. So take it slow and give it your all if you’re serious about repairing your relationship. With the right steps, many couples actually report that their marriages became stronger after the affair!
Are you headed for a divorce?
You may be worried that you or your spouse is getting ready to file for a divorce. This can be a scary time, where you question whether your marriage is over and try to determine what went wrong. Rebuilding trust is your first step to determine whether you can still stay together.