The stable foundation of any loving relationship is love, trust, and faithfulness. If your partner cheats on you, rebuilding that crumbling foundation will take more than love. How can you mend your heart after the cruel betrayal of infidelity?
Five Steps to Reconciliation After Infidelity
The decision to reconcile after infidelity can be an overwhelming task. It takes commitment and works from both partners. Here are five steps for rebuilding your relationship after cheating.
1. Put an End to the Affair to Begin to Heal the Relationship
The first step to healing a relationship after infidelity is for the affair to stop. Period. All communications with the other person must end. There must be no phone calls, texts, or other contacts.
Your partner must distance themselves from the situation and destroy any photos, letters, or other mementos. If they are serious about rebuilding your connection, they shouldn’t have a problem with your request.
However, things can get a little complicated if the other person is a co-worker or, even worse, a close relative. In these delicate situations, they may consider applying for a different department in the company or getting another job. If crossing paths is inevitable, the conversation should be kept to a minimum.
If your partner has cheated in your relationship, the last thing you want to hear is excuses. You want them to be adult enough to say they messed up and for them to make amends.
2. Be Honest About Your Feelings About the Relationship
If there’s ever a time to be genuine and transparent with your feelings, it’s now. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner how their infidelity hurt you. They’ve betrayed your trust and broken your heart.
Even though it will be difficult, try to listen to how they feel. Chances are they are experiencing profound guilt and embarrassment. They may feel lost and remorseful because they hurt you and don’t know how to fix it.
These serious discussions probably won’t happen in the beginning. The first communication will probably be a whirlwind of fury and tears. Give yourself some time, so you can both have a heart-to-heart conversation instead of a shouting match.
The notion that time heals wounds isn’t based on reality. You may have a chance to learn better coping skills, but you can’t erase the hurt. Nor can you accept excuses for why they broke things with infidelity.
Nevertheless, time is still one of the best gifts you can give yourself after such a traumatic experience. Both of you need time and space to focus on your next steps. Be patient and let your heart, mind, and soul take all the time it needs to heal.
If your spouse truly loves you, they won’t pressure you into forgiving instantaneously. They need to understand their betrayal’s gravity and how it hurts. The least they can do is be patient and considerate in the process.
3. Get the Support You Need to Recover From Infidelity
After intense soul searching and conversations, maybe you’ve both decided to move forward with your relationship. It doesn’t mean everything will be fine and return to normal. Your first attempts at talking may seem forced and awkward.
When you both feel comfortable and can have a civil conversation, try to spend quality time together. While parts of the conversation must be serious, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. Discuss the negative things, but you must shift to a positive focus.
These are moments when you can rediscover the love that brought you together in the first place. As you rebuild, you may learn new things about each other you never knew. The quantity of time you share isn’t as important as the quality.
Most people who are faced with an unfaithful mate find themselves in a dark place. It affects you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. More than one person can bear the sense of grief, betrayal, and bitterness.
In the beginning, you may feel too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to anyone about the infidelity. However, it would help if you had the support of your closest family and friends. Only confide in ones that you completely trust and who can remain unbiased in the matter.
Likewise, your partner will need people who can listen to them and offer support. The object isn’t to try to build a team in each corner. You need to gain support for your relationship as a couple.
Getting a counselor involved for you individually and as a couple might be beneficial. There’s probably a plethora of thoughts and emotions you need to explore and sort. Remember that there’s no shame in asking for help from your inner circle or mental health professional.
4. Establish Boundaries for Recommitment
At some point, a partner who cheats has lost their faith and commitment in their relationship. Maybe you’re one of the many couples who choose to rebuild and recommit themselves. It’s not an easy decision, and there will be plenty of hurdles along the way.
According to an article published by Health Research Funding, 31 percent of American couples surveyed would stay together after cheating. However, at least 80 percent say infidelity is wrong, and 99 percent of those polled expect their partners to be faithful. A couple’s chances of dealing with a cheating spouse are one in four.
Maybe the odds of 31 percent who are for reconciliation isn’t the best, but it doesn’t mean things are impossible. It depends on how much you want to fix things and how hard you’re willing to work to make this happen.
Also, is your partner on the same page and determined as you to make amends? It takes two people to create a relationship, and you work together to heal the hurts.
Once that sacred vow is broken, it’s pretty challenging to rebuild. However, it can be done with time, patience, and extensive communication about where to go from this point. Some have compared reconciling after a cheating partner to an exquisite vase.
How do you repair it if it falls and shatters into a million pieces? Only time and hard work will determine if rebuilding is possible. Even once it’s fixed, it will never be as pristine as it was before it was shattered. Take baby steps as you work through the suspicious feelings and bitterness you harbor.
If this relationship is worth saving, your partner must focus on earning your trust and respect. It’s going to be a while before you can trust them on their phone or computer. It may be tempting to spy on their accounts, but that makes matters worse. Give it time to see how determined they are to make things right.
Establishing and enforcing boundaries is the only way to have a healthy, lasting relationship. If your lover has cheated on you, they must have lost sight of these mutual perimeters. Reconciliation will take some serious efforts to rebuild boundaries.
You may never know why they breached these rules, but they’re still non-negotiable. Rebuilding boundaries doesn’t mean that you expect any less from your mate. It’s a long process where you must define your limits and let them know how you wish to be treated.
5. Embrace Self-Care After Infidelity
An article published by Southern New Hampshire University defines self-care as anything you do to keep yourself healthy. It’s a holistic approach that includes body, mind, and spirit. Unfortunately, it’s one of the first things that go out the door after a traumatic experience.
Don’t lose yourself in the rubble when you feel like your whole world is crumbling around you. You can’t love anybody else until you learn to love yourself. It’s essential when your significant other has stepped out on you.
It’s not uncommon for spouses who have been cheated on to blame themselves. You may develop anxiety, depression, and other health issues. Also, you may buy into the delusion that they wouldn’t have cheated if you were younger, prettier, or more intelligent.
Instead of putting yourself down, it’s time to lift your spirits with self-care. Pamper yourself with massages, manicures, and days at the spa. It may not help your current problems, but it can put you in a better mind frame.
Another healthy way you can take care of yourself is by using meditation. Set aside a sacred space in your home to breathe and focus on relaxing your mind. Meditation is ideal for mental clarity and relieving stress.
Journaling is another avenue to explore for expressing your thoughts and emotions. For now, it may be hard to discuss how hurt and angry you are because your partner cheated. Keeping a journal allows you to write whatever is on your mind without pressure or judgment.
Final Thoughts on Rebuilding a Relationship after Infidelity
Few things can break your heart and spirit, like learning that your partner cheated on you. Should you decide to take the path of forgiveness and reconciliation, you must realize it’s a lot of work. However, you may be unable to walk this path, and you should know when to walk away. Realistically, not every relationship will survive such an act of betrayal.