Scandalous affairs that end relationships grab headlines in the tabloids. Think Arnold, Tiger, and Petraeus to name a few. But in real life, like yours, a relationship can survive an affair and become even stronger than before.
Over the years of counseling couples, whether famous or not, for those who are genuinely sincere about saving their relationships, it is an ongoing process to repair broken trust.
Here is the advice I have given in countless sessions that I have found works.
STEPS FOR BOTH OF YOU
1. Make Amends
Cheaters must be willing to admit to the affair and acknowledge the pain they have caused their mate, without excuses.
2. Allow Anger
The cheater has to let their partner express anger freely — and not just once. It is important to accept that your partner’s anger may continue and may need to be expressed many times, as hard as that may be to hear.
The cheater has to be willing to re-commit to the relationship and work through the steps needed to heal and strengthen their bond.
4. Look Deeper
Both partners need to look at the affair as a symptom of deeper problems not previously acknowledged in their relationship and be willing to dig in to work on what has been ignored.
It’s up to the person who broke the trust to rebuild it. And that means bending over backwards to assure your partner that you are once again worthy of their trust. For instance, keep agreements with your mate, such as coming home on time. Ten minutes of not knowing where your partner is will seem like an eternity to someone who has been cheated on before.
6. Cut off all communication with “the other” woman or man.
It may seem like a given but I can’t emphasize how important it is for the partner who has cheated to end the affair – completely. That means no email, phone calls, texting, no “friendly” lunches. That’s likely what got you into this mess. Discuss with your mate how you are going to do this. Be transparent. If your mate wants to listen in on “the breakup” or read the Dear John or Jane letter, let them. Believe it or not I have had couples bring the other woman or man into their counseling sessions to facilitate the healing process with great success.
This last step is crucial. When you and your partner have worked through the process, the final piece is for the betrayed to offer forgiveness. Without forgiveness, the cheater may feel that there is no hope for rebuilding the relationship. This step involves being vulnerable and willing to take a risk . . . You may never forget, but you can forgive.
Finally . . . Give it Time
It’s not unreasonable for this process to take many months to resolve itself. It takes a tremendous amount of patience, maturity and a strong commitment from both partners. But if you and your mate are ready and willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work, not only can your relationship survive the affair, but you can experience a new found depth and love between each other as a result of all your efforts.