There is no denying that an affair is the ultimate betrayal in a relationship. Yet even with a betrayal of such magnitude, it doesn’t necessarily mean the love is gone between partners.
When you still love someone, but trust has been ruined, is it possible to repair the relationship? How do you build trust after an affair? Can it be rebuilt?
It may be hard to believe (especially if you’ve recently been a victim of an affair), but trust can be rebuilt after an affair and some couples come out the other side even stronger than before. But it can’t happen without some hard work and painful conversations.
so How Do You Build Trust After An Affair?
1. Take responsibility
Often, the perpetrators of an affair are overcome with guilt and, because of it, they urge their partners to put the affair in the past so they can move on.
This is a mistake, and certainly not fair to the other person.
The perpetrator must take responsibility and acknowledge the pain they have caused rather than defend or deflect their actions. This step is critical before the couple can begin their healing process.
2. Avoid Fake forgiveness
Sometimes, in an effort to save a marriage, the victim quickly rushes to forgive their partner before they’ve truly had a chance to feel their anger and hurt. Rushing through this part of the process creates a false sense of comfort and can set the relationship up for future infidelities.
This is commonly seen among individuals who are more afraid of being alone than staying in an unhealthy, unfaithful relationship. But this rushed and false forgiveness essentially lets the cheater off the hook and sends a message that the behavior is OK.
3. Shared responsibility
There are some situations when both parties share guilt. While the perpetrator has to take responsibility, own up to their guilt and allow their partner to vent, the wronged party must also acknowledge their own role.
What led to feelings of emotional distance and isolation? Did their own behavior cause their spouse to stray? One of the most common reasons for infidelity is a sense of disconnection between partners. This might sound unfair, but it needs to be explored and acknowledged in order to move forward and prevent further betrayals – from either person.
4. Let go
Once full responsibility is taken and grieving has happened, both parties need to “let it go“ and work toward coming back together. Obviously this is easier said than done, and for some, not possible. However, a couple has zero chance of rebuilding meaningful trust if the victim harbors resentment and uses it against their partner in future situations.
Rebuilding trust after an affair takes time and all couples are different. Some may feel closure after 6 months, others may need years to fully come together. Some couples might need the guidance of a therapist to help. The important thing is that both parties remain committed and do the work. Simply waiting for it to pass, won’t work.
Relationships are hard. If you need help rebuilding trust in your relationship after an affair, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help guide you through the pain.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.