A Deal Breaker
One of the most common reasons for breakups, separations, and/or divorce is infidelity. Some people feel that infidelity is a deal breaker; there are no second chances; the marriage is over; no discussion needed; pack your bags and get out. There are not many things worse than finding out that your partner has betrayed you by having an affair. It is arguably the hardest thing to get past and the hardest thing to forgive, though it can be done. It takes a very strong, committed person to be able to work through the process of forgiving the person who cheated while healing your own heart.
Working through the betrayal issues has to be a commitment made by both partners. The partner who cheated has to want to move forward as well and do whatever it takes to prove the affair is over, forgiveness is desired, and that trust and truthfulness can forever be present in your relationship from this point.
The biggest issue is trust. If you were the victim of an affair, you may feel you will never be able to trust your partner again. Similarly, you start to doubt yourself and wonder what you did to make your partner stray from your marriage. Your confidence has probably plummeted. You feel hurt, but more than hurt, you are embarrassed. You heart is broken, and you feel so much betrayal, it makes you physically ill. What will you possibly do to get through this awful time in your life?
Building Trust Again
Again, it takes both partners to want to move forward and work through the issues at hand in your relationship. The first step is rebuilding trust. This will not be easy or quickly accomplished. Start rebuilding your relationship by focusing and requiring, communication, responsibility, reliability, and love.
- Communication - Open honest communication is key in any relationship. One of the main reasons that people stray is because there is no communication.
- Responsibility - Both partners need to acknowledge what they did to contribute to the relationship issues. What happened? When did you stop being lovers and start being roommates? What are you willing to do to fix the relationship?
- Reliability - Both partners need to do what they say they will do, without reminders. Pick up the kids, come home on time, pick up the dry cleaning, go grocery shopping, etc. By doing what you say you will do, you are showing your partner that you can be trusted.
- Love - Commit to actively showing love to your partner. Touch often, hold hands, hug, kiss.
A good indicator of whether or not your marriage can survive an affair is the empathy shown by the cheating spouse for the drama they have caused, and the tenderness they display while the victim spouse is working through the fact that they had an affair. Apologies and remorse need to be expressed in many different ways. You can say, "I'm sorry", but more than that, your actions are key to showing your spouse that you are truly sorry and that you are committed to proving it in both verbal and nonverbal ways.
If you are the adulterer, you need to remember that a marriage is comprised of two people; therefore, you need to cut off all contact with the third party. You also need to commit to total honesty, even if it is uncomfortable. Do not engage in lying by omission or by withholding information.
Give it Time
Lastly, realize that recovering from an affair and restoring your relationship takes time, a lot of time. There is no rule or timeline for recovering from infidelity. Face it, learning that your partner has been unfaithful can be one of the worst things you can deal with in your life. Typically, you will go through trauma, the initial shock you feel when you learn your spouse has cheated. You will also experience a myriad of emotions.
Once this stage has passed, most likely, you will go through a time when you seek clarification of what caused your partner to stray. This is the point where you really should consult with a trained counselor or mental health professional as talking to an unbiased third-party can stave off the common tendency to blame yourself in some way for what happened. The sooner the issues can be clarified, the sooner you and your spouse can begin to heal and move forward.
Then, there is the phase where the problem is addressed. This is where the work really begins, and again, this is where a professional can help. Couples who work with a therapist tend to have stronger, truer bonds based on techniques they learn free of the demons in the past and to support an open, honest relationship going forward.
If you are suffering as the result of infidelity in your own relationship, whether you are the adulterer or the victim, contact Orange County Relationship Center and make an appointment with a trained professional. We can help you and your partner work through the issues that caused the infidelity, as well as offer techniques to help you get past these issues and get on your way to developing a stronger, more loving relationship. Call today at 949-220-3211, or use our online tool to schedule your appointment.