Recovering from Infidelity
Having looked at the impact of infidelity in last week’s article, and considering that it is possible to recover from it together, today therapist Teyhou Smyth gives some advice on how to recover from infidelity. It is never too late to make a change to move towards each other, rather than away. If you need some help to walk along the path to recovery, please do reach out and make an appointment with one of our therapists.
When a couple faces infidelity, it can feel like the relationship is doomed.
For some couples, cheating might be the end, while other couples try to make it work.
If a couple decides to press forward with the relationship, it will require a lot of discipline, communication and honesty. With hard work, relationships can survive after infidelity.
Hints for Healing after infidelity
It’s important to hold yourselves to some guidelines as you work toward healing. While it may be tempting to just follow the course of your feelings, sometimes emotions steer us away from where we are ultimately trying to land.
Try to make sure you are operating out of the logical and emotional parts of your mind. This will require a lot of practice and you may find that a counselor can help.
Establish mutual intent after cheating and infidelity:
As you move toward healing from infidelity, both parts of a couple will need to identify the ultimate goal of the relationship. Are you both committed to the status of the relationship?
Sometimes couples who are dealing with infidelity come to the realization that monogamy is not practical for their needs. This is not an easy conclusion to draw for most couples.
Making the decision to move from monogamy to a polyamorous relationship can bring up a lot of self-esteem and other complex issues.
Both people need to be fully committed to whatever outcome is decided upon. The couple should discuss all benefits and consequences of this shared intent, particularly if a couple decides to change their basic level of commitment.
Explore the causes of cheating and infidelity:
It is crucial to analyze the factors that allowed for cheating to take place. Hard questions such as “why did this happen” and “what were the early warning signs” must be discussed before true healing can begin.
Both people need to be willing to look at their contributions to the infidelity. That’s not to say that the person who was cheated on is “to blame,” but as in most situations, often there is plenty of responsibility to go around.
The identification of cause will be one of the most painful parts of recovery. It can be tempting to maintain a defensive position in this part of the process, but that will only result in remaining stuck. This is where ‘and’ statements come in handy.
Remind yourselves, ‘I was struggling in the relationship, partially because of my partner’s contributions AND it was not acceptable to cheat in response to that.’ All justifications need to be removed from conversations around infidelity.
There is no good reason to cheat. In order to heal from it, however, it is crucial that both people take ownership of their behaviors within the relationship.
Don’t try to fake trust after cheating and infidelity:
Once cheating happens, trust dissolves immediately. Sometimes it can take ages for it to be reestablished.
As time goes on, the person who cheated may become frustrated that their partner still distrusts them. Trust cannot be faked. If a couple is trying to pretend that they have trust, it is a type of lie that can only serve to harm the relationship in the long run.
When working on healing from infidelity, expect that the trust will be the very last thing to return to the relationship.
It cannot be rushed and should not be faked. Being distrusted is simply the cost of admission for infidelity. Impatience with your partner about their distrust only worsens the injury that the infidelity caused.
Couples can and do recover from infidelity.
It is a long, challenging road and requires a lot of dedication and soul searching. When a couple survives infidelity, they often come out on the other side having a lot more understanding of themselves as individuals and compassion for their partner’s needs.
[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com]