When a relationship is rocked by infidelity, it’s no wonder that a couple might struggle with the idea of reconciling. In the harsh light of discovery, making the relationship last might be the farthest thing from their minds.
However, it’s not uncommon for two people in an established relationship to put the pieces back together and beat the odds; some couples have even reported that their relationship has truly lasted, and they’re happier than they’ve ever been.
Before you commit one way or the other, first a couple must consider several important factors that will influence whether they can really beat the odds themselves.
The Root Cause
As much as the cheating is the obvious cause of the problems in the relationship, oftentimes, carrying on an affair is a symptom of something else that is very wrong between two people. The level of dysfunction can indicate whether the relationship can be repaired.
Let’s say that Jim cheated on Carrie. He told Carrie he no longer loves her and is simply waiting until their son graduates from high school to move out. In this case, the cheating partner considers the relationship over.
To him, the marriage is already broken beyond repair, and he’s just going through the motions.
On the other hand, maybe Carrie’s been extremely involved in raising the children and spending extra hours at work, striving for a promotion. Jim cheats on Carrie because he feels neglected and lonely. In this case, maybe Jim would really prefer not to break up the marriage.
In this second scenario, it looks possible that Jim and Carrie could try and fix what’s wrong in their marriage.
When both people in a relationship that’s been affected by infidelity take a long, honest look at why this may have happened, it can go a long way in helping them decide if they can stay together and beat the odds.
Commitment to Each Other
For a relationship to survive an affair, both partners must be willing and able to make a commitment to each other again, and to fixing their problems. Of course, the person who strayed needs to do this, but it can be easy to overlook how committed the person who didn’t stray needs to be, too!
The cheating partner must first show their commitment to their partner by breaking off the affair and cutting off all contact with the person they cheated with. They need to be willing to answer any questions asked of them by their partner (When did it happen? For how long? Where?), and at any time.
The person who cheated must be patient and accepting when their partner frets about where they’ve been, who they’ve talked to, or what they’ve been doing. Perhaps the cheating partner makes his cell phone available for her to check, on demand.
Or maybe she vows to answer the phone within 3 rings, and never let his calls go to voicemail. The person who cheated needs to do whatever it takes to help restore for their partner some feeling of trust and security. It can take some time to rebuild that, and it requires commitment.
The person who was cheated on also needs to take some important steps if the relationship will be saved. Of course, they’re entitled to answers, and they’re entitled to a partner who is reliable, truthful, and actively willing to build trust.
At the same time, though, the person who did not stray cannot hold the affair over the head of the person who cheated all the time. It’s one thing to demand accountability and another to exact punishment over and over and over again.
Making Positive Changes
Discover ways to make infidelity an opportunity for positive change, for both of you.
In the beginning, this may be a very difficult concept to embrace, and may require professional counseling. But by looking inward and finding the motivation to make positive changes in your lives – individually and as a couple – you may find resilience and strength to move forward as a couple that’s dedicated to rebuilding your relationship.
It’s not necessary to focus only on what NOT to do any longer, but what you CAN DO as a couple going forward.
For example, let’s say that a lack of time together was one of the contributing factors of infidelity in a relationship. A couple could then decide to take up a new hobby together, or perhaps a sport like running, fishing, or bicycling.
Spending time together can combat the root causes of infidelity in this case, and also establish new patterns of behavior that allow for a more satisfying level of engagement between the two, with stronger and more effective communication that can help identify and resolve issues while they’re still manageable.
Odds In Your Favor
Any couple that’s affected by cheating certainly has the odds stacked against them, no doubt about it. By taking an honest and clear-eyed look at the root causes of the infidelity, making a commitment to each other, and enacting positive changes as individuals and as a couple, it may be possible to beat the odds and find long-term happiness again.