How To Get Your Relationship Back On Track After Infidelity
Infidelity is a complex beast. It goes by many names and has many faces and can crop up even where you least expect it.
It is naive to believe that only those in a troubled relationship can be plagued by infidelity – I’ve seen it rear its ugly head even in (seemingly) blissful relationships.
Infidelity also takes many forms, and is not limited to a physical relationship or encounter with someone outside of your relationship. Even sharing emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner can be classified as infidelity or ‘cheating’. Here, the betrayal is on an emotional level, which if left to grow, more often than not leads to a sexual betrayal. Even if it doesn’t result in a physical affair, the fact that your partner has an intimate, emotional bond with someone else still is likely to leave you feeling ‘cheated’ on.
Whether your partner has been unfaithful on a physical or emotional level (or both), you are likely to be feeling betrayed, traumatized and heartbroken. The foundation on which your relationship has been built – trust – has been pulled out from under you.
You suddenly find yourself lost – not recognizing the person to whom you have committed yourself, and you are feeling completely overwhelmed and unsure of yourself.
You no longer feel safe and secure. Every word spoken and every moment spent together seems to be a lie.You feel shattered.
Even if your relationship has been in a rocky place, the impact of your partner’s infidelity is still earth-shattering to you.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Now what if I had to tell you that it is possible to (slowly) put the pieces back together and come out even stronger, even together again with your partner!
Here are three key issues involved in working through infidelity, which can get you and your relationship back on track.
An obvious point to mention, is that not all situations are the same – all the information below is relevant only to cases where both partners want to mend their relationship – where the betrayee is willing to work hard at forgiving his/her partner and where the betrayer feels genuinely remorseful and regrets being unfaithful.
There are obviously situations where the betrayer has truly fallen in love with the new partner, or is not willing to change his/her unfaithful ways (generally is a repeat offender), or where the betrayee does not feel that he/she will be able to ever trust the partner again.
1) How do you get over an affair?
This is not an easy task and is one of the most challenging trials that a couple has to face. Whether you eventually decide to go your separate ways and need work through the trauma on your own, or whether you and your partner decides to work on your relationship and get through this together, the starting point is always the same.
As this is a very traumatic experience in life, I always recommend couples to go for both individual and couple’s counseling. Even if you decide to separate from your partner, I would still recommend individual counseling to help yourself get through the heartache and betrayal.
What’s key to remember is that you and your partner need to use the tools that you learn in your couple’s counseling sessions on a day-to-day basis. These tools usually include practical communication guidelines, coping mechanisms, strategies for channeling your anger and hurt, and tools to regain intimacy in your relationship.
Communication is especially key – it is so vital to work through the blind spots or weak points in your relationship that led to the affair (discussed in more detail below), to communicate the feeling involved prior to, during and following the affair, and to discuss each partner’s desires for the future and what they each want for the relationship.
2) How to identify blind spots that you had in your relationship?
Like I said, infidelity can worm its way even into happy relationships and marriages. The important thing to understand though is that even though these relationships are happy on the surface, there must have been cracks appearing that made way for the betrayal.
For example, I’ve met with couples who seemed to have it all. A long-term, loving relationship, well-balanced kids, happy home…you get the picture. All of a sudden, everything comes crashing around them when one partner announces (or is caught out) that he/she is having an affair.
Then, when working through this, it most often comes to light that in reality something was off kilter in the relationship. Maybe they didn’t spend enough intimate time together, or the husband often worked late with a member of the opposite sex, perhaps there was underlying resentment towards each other for whatever reason.
The secret is to identify these ‘blind spots’ in your relationship and to keep an eye on them so that no cracks appear to threaten your relationship.
A useful, practical exercise is to take a moment, and each write down privately what you each believe to be the blind spots in your relationship. Compare notes, and mark the ones that you both agree on.
Discuss them together and work on processing them towards resolve in the relationship.
Ask yourselves and each other, How and what will I do differently next time?
This is a good way for couples to cope when they have decided to work on rebuilding their relationship and don’t want it to happen again.
3) How to amp up passion in your relationship after infidelity?
This is ultimately the biggest challenge in rebuilding your relationship after infidelity. By the time you get to this stage, you have moved from feeling completely helpless and betrayed, to feeling that there is hope for a future together.
But how can you possibly rekindle the romance and passion in your relationship after someone else has invaded this private space in your relationship?
Find out how by reading my latest blog post (link to blog post) where the secret to amping up passion after infidelity has been revealed..