Infidelity is one of the most common endings to a committed relationship.
Once you’re unfaithful to your partner, you immediately tear down the trust that took years to build.
Because trust is a major cornerstone in any relationship, some people believe that after infidelity, there is no way to repair the relationship. Others, though, believe that their relationship is worth fighting for.
It’s important to recognize that rebuilding trust after infidelity CAN be done. In fact, sometimes, it actually strengthens the relationship in the long run.
It’s also important to note that rebuilding trust in a distressed relationship is only possible after you evaluate whether or not you’re willing to trust again. This can be done, but you have to be sure you’re ready.
It has been said that ‘time heals all wounds’. However, time by itself does not heal. It is what you do during the time that can lead to healing. Both partners need to be ready and willing to put in the work. Rebuilding trust is not a quick process; it is often two steps forward, one step backward, and one step sidewise and it requires a lot of patience.
The following three steps can help put your relationship back on track:
1. Communicate Openly
Communication plays one of the most crucial roles in any relationship, but it is especially important after trust has been broken.
Healthy communication includes an open exchange of information between partners. It’s critical that the person who was betrayed expresses their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. They need to feel understood and heard by their partner. Yet, it’s just as crucial that the betrayer responds to their partner’s feelings genuinely, without getting defensive or minimizing their actions.
There are many different forms of communication. Action is just as important—if not more important—than verbal exchanges. Keeping promises, like coming home when you say you’re going to or following through with a dinner date that you promised, are prime examples of these. As the saying goes, actions can speak a lot louder than words.
However, it’s also critical that the secrecy stops. This is why a major part of communication is maintaining complete honesty and transparency. Lying or twisting the truth will only make things worse in the long run, even if you think the lie will “protect” your partner.
2. Stay in the Present
Staying in the present might be one of the most difficult parts of rebuilding trust. It is so easy to live in regrets of the past or fear of the future. While these fears may be valid; excessive worries are not healthy for the progress of your relationship. That's because, yes, the infidelity happened, but you agreed that you wanted to restore your relationship and move forward. Stay focused on your goal.
There’s a fine line between taking time to process and an unhealthy dwelling on the infidelity. For those who did the betraying – do not put a limit on your partner’s healing and trusting process. For those who were betrayed – refrain from bringing up the betrayal during every conversation and argument.
Worrying about the past will only spark feelings of anxiety and depression. There is nothing you can do about the past, so it’s critical to focus on what you’re doing in the present that will better your lives moving forward.
It is also important to recognize that there will be bumps. If you’re currently experiencing turmoil, realize that problems are to be expected. Even a little progress is progress. And as long as you’re moving forward, you won’t go back to where you were before you started your healing journey.
3. Get Help
Last, but certainly not least, seeking help from a professional might be the best action you can take to better your relationship. There is nothing wrong or shameful about this! We all need help when at times to manage life’s challenges.
Couples therapy can serve as a guide for moving forward in your relationship. You’ll work on the things you might not have thought of on your own. Therapy is a safe place and a judgment-free zone. The skills you learn will be critical for moving your relationship in a happy, healthy, and positive direction.