When a partner cheats it can shake the very foundation of a relationship. Trust is important for relationship success. Once it is broken, it perpetuates feelings of doubt, betrayal, resentment and insecurity. If both partners are interested in saving the relationship, they can work on rebuilding trust together. Although possible, be prepared for many challenges in the road ahead.
Apologize and Forgive
The partner who cheated must seek forgiveness from the other. If you are the betrayer, make a sincere apology to your partner about hurting her by cheating. Cheating on a partner can leave you feeling guilty. You must come to a point where you forgive yourself for your wrongs. If you are the betrayed partner, you must be open to forgiving your partner. Without forgiveness, neither partner will be able to move on in rebuilding the relationship.
It is normal for the one who has been betrayed to be curious about the cheating. It is likely that he will have questions and want details about your other relationship. He may want to know who the relationship was with and how far you went with that person. Answer the betrayed partner's questions honestly, marriage and family therapist Michele Weiner-Davis suggests on WebMD. You may also have to divulge more information about where you will be and who you will be with, especially in the period immediately following the cheating. Be patient with him.
Turn Towards Each Other
Be there for each other when one of you is feeling emotionally weak and in need of attention or affection. You may feel tempted to avoid dealing with your partner when she is upset or sad. Instead of turning away from her needs, pay attention to the changes in her moods and respond with kindness and understanding, recommends John Gottman, researcher on marriage and family issues, as reported by the Greater Good Science Center. Pause what you are doing to give her a warm hug or to listen to her vent about what’s bothering her. Eventually, you will both grow to trust each other with your emotional needs.
Build a New Foundation
Just like a broken down house, a relationship without trust must be rebuilt from the ground up. Both partners should take some time to think. The betrayer must consider personal issues that lead to cheating. Even the betrayed partner should consider if he played a part in driving his partner away, couples therapist Jamie Turndorf tells WebMD. Both partners must identify things that need to be changed and work on fixing them. Maybe you need to spend more quality time together where you really talk and listen to one another without interruptions. Consider having a rule to not accept non-emergency calls while on a date. If one partner is busy with work or school, come up with ways in which you can connect each day, such as talking briefly early in the morning, sending emails or texting to check in.
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