Seven keys to learning to rebuild your relationship after an infidelity
Her new album is to read like the diary of a wounded woman. In Lemonade, Beyonce confides in half a word about the pranks of her husband, Jay-Z. And the star is far from the only one to have to face the adultery of her spouse. An SMS accidentally discovered on a cell phone, an email that we should never have read .. and everything changes. He has a mistress, and she has a lover. The discovery of an extramarital affair throws the couple into turmoil. Some do not recover and separate. Others manage to weather the storm and try to rebuild their relationship. The road is far from easy, however. How to build trust in a relationship after cheating?
Each situation is unique and specific, and it is impossible to offer infallible recipes that would guarantee a harmonious restoration of the couple. Nevertheless, there are avenues that it is useful to pursue head-on if we want to give ourselves every chance of success. This “work” divides into seven axes:
Understand what happened
As Winston Churchill said: “Those who fail to learn from history condemn themselves to repeat it.” Trying, for both spouses, to understand why and how this relationship was able to be established is an essential first step: what are the responsibilities of each? What attitudes, behaviors, mutual negligence, loss of illusions, disappointments on one side or the other laid the foundations for this infidelity?
It is essential to emphasize that the extramarital relationship does not necessarily signify a loss of the bond of love. There are indeed personal circumstances that mean that we cannot find our relationship the answers we are looking for without, however, ceasing to love our partner: doubts and insecurity characteristic of the transition from the middle of life, periods of unemployment, grief, or personal difficulties.
Relearn the Daily
Since discovering the extramarital relationship, we still live together, and we feel very uncomfortable with each other. Daily routines and rituals can seem unbearable at times, but they also act as safeguards providing a framework for channeling emotions and getting through the first months of uncertainty.
Continuing to live together can be restrictive, but these constraints also make possible moments of lightness where the seed of change begins to take root. If we decide to stay together, we keep the assets of our friends and family network and, deliberately using this known and secure environment, we can gradually relearn how to find the pleasure of doing things together: going to the cinema, theater, entertaining friends, doing activities with children.
Incidentally, showing the other that we put our own during such or such activity – when the other knows full well that the heart is not 100% there – shows the will to make an effort to be rebuild. It is as many points gained for the restoration of the couple.
During the first exchanges, it is important to get out of the mystery surrounding the extramarital relationship because the imagination leads to developing scenarios that are always worse than reality. Everyone will assess what he/she wishes to reveal, but being clear about the facts demystifies the relationship: who is this person? Where did you meet him? In which circumstances? etc.
In searching for answers, the deceived person should be careful, especially when approaching sexual details. Too many details can indeed hurt her, and the responses of her spouse can mark her without her knowing it. Apart from the overly sexual details, we see that the deceived person often needs this type of conversation, not to flog himself but to appropriate the missing elements allowing him to put everything “end to end.”
Beyond the concrete facts, there is a second level of communication, where we address the basic questions on the underlying reasons for infidelity and the couple’s state. It is difficult to avoid them if we want to move forward, but we must recognize that they are not essential for the reconstruction of the couple. It is, therefore, useless to put yourself in danger. Too many “psychologizing” things can have a paradoxically negative effect. And it is sometimes wise not to go too far in introspection!
For the sake of openness and sincerity, do we have to tell each other everything? The answer is clear: no! The unfaithful person does not owe everything to his / her partner. There are components of what she experienced in the extramarital affair that belongs to her secret garden, and she has the right to keep them silent.
This idea can be unbearable for the person who deceives, but it must be remembered that this secret garden in his spouse existed even in the absence of any infidelity. Finally, if the dialogue is not possible, it is useful to turn to a couple therapist or marriage mediator to help restore constructive dialogue.
Who says infidelity says the loss of confidence is inevitable. From there, restoring confidence is another pillar in the rebuilding of the couple. This task falls primarily to the unfaithful person, but it should be known that the deceived person can, by his attitude, favor, or on the contrary, slow down this process – by an excess of mistrust or too marked harassment.
It is done in particular on two axes:
1- Establish with his / her partner an honest and sincere dialogue on the extramarital relationship: we have just spoken about it.
2- Renounce the relationship with the other person: This is the best situation. In reality, things are much less simple: there was good in the extramarital relationship, and the unfaithful person has a hard time giving it up. While agreeing on the need for an intimate distance, she has, in the beginning, a lot of difficulties letting go of the emotional dimension.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of the deceived person, it is the pursuit of this type of connection that is the most threatening. He casts doubt on the feelings that his partner continues to have for the other person. It can weaken the trust she is trying to rebuild. The same is true when the unfaithful person maintains a bond with the lover or the mistress without necessarily having sexual relations.
In some cases, the radical distancing of the other person is impossible: it is a neighbor, a co-worker, or someone whom the person has been unfaithful meets regularly. How to do it? At work, it recommends avoiding as much as possible personal conversations about your life, feelings, relationship, children. Anything that is intimate and has an overly emotional tone.
As fortuitous encounters are likely to occur, you may agree to notify your spouse if necessary. It is even recommended to do it before his / her partner asks for it. Experience shows that by doing this, people “gain points of trust” with their spouse.
Learn to forgive
Along with restoring trust, forgiveness is central to rebuilding the couple after infidelity. To forgive is not to forget or to act as if nothing had happened. It is not to stifle the anger, resentment, grief, loss of confidence in oneself, and in the other, it is not. Is not ” moving on ” without any significant change implement. It is not closing our eyes or minimizing the impact of what happened, leaving the other the possibility of another adventure. It is not accepting the acts of the person who has offended, without there being any consequences for her.
The pardon and the return of confidence on Parallel. Anything that the unfaithful person does to restore a sense of security within the relationship will help the deceived person gain forgiveness. Indeed, to forgive is to accept to gradually let go of the anger and resentment that one feels towards one’s spouse.
As long as bitterness and the desire to hurt persists in oneself, forgiveness is not possible. Likewise, as behind anger is always suffering, forgiving amounts, for the deceived person, to appeasing his suffering and restoring his feeling of inner security: one no longer suffers from infidelity when one is not. Angrier and no longer being angry is also a result of feeling safe.
Reinvest in sexuality
Shortly after discovering the extramarital affair, sexual intimacy is the last thing you want for both the cheated person and the unfaithful person. We are in too much pain. We are too confused, and we are too insecure.
Heavy questions also arise: is desire dead? Can he be revived? And how? These questions sometimes come to the fore when everyone is considering reinvesting in the relationship. It is extremely difficult to define precise rules when considering the renewal of desire after infidelity.
In any case, regaining sexual intimacy after infidelity is a real challenge. Talking about it openly is essential in the reconstruction process, but it is extremely delicate ground. Moreover, some couples do not succeed and need professional help (a sex therapist, for example) to try to reactivate the desire. Very often, sexual intimacy closely follows the return of emotional intimacy, the latter being directly related to the feeling of security. The return of sexuality, therefore, goes hand in hand with the restoration of confidence.
Reinvesting the couple, reinvesting yourself
We must restore what Steven Solomon Lorie Teagno calls in Rebuilding your relationship after infidelity is possible! ( éd. Béliveau), “emotional intimacy.” “Emotional intimacy is what allows the couple to continue to grow after the initial (and fleeting) phase of the romantic merger. Without this intimacy, love erodes, the bond of love weakens. and the relationship is gradually deteriorating. ”
So, after infidelity, the main stake is to restore this emotional intimacy. In reality, this intimacy is twofold: it is necessary to find an intimacy of heart in the relationship, but it is just as essential to find intimacy with oneself. Must carry out the two simultaneously. Otherwise, the reconstruction will remain partial and fragile.
Taking care of the relationship means:
- Be as reliable and honest as possible with each other.
- Express anger, grief, frustration, or resentment without delay
- Projecting ourselves into the future
- Relearn to think in terms of “us.”
- Rebalance the power games in the relationship
- Show and explicitly name his love for the other.