Maybe it’s just you…
…Or your former wayward partner
…or both of you
Who wants to reconcile the relationship after infidelity and regain the love and trust you once shared.
And how do you decide if reconciliation in marriage is the best solution?
Reconciliation is a long and exhausting journey.
It takes courage and fortitude.
There will be many changes to be made and many setbacks and obstacles to overcome.
Count the cost and if you feel your spouse and your marriage is worth a second chance, then go for it!
In this article I aim to give you some guidance to help you decide if reconciling is honestly what you both want.
In the end, the decision is solely up to you and your partner because only you too can know for sure if restoration is the right thing to do.
What You’ll Learn:
Is There Hope For Reconciliation?
Working through the marriage reconciliation process after a spouse cheats is something that has to come from both parties. It only takes one person to forgive, but it takes two to reconcile and the first step in reconciliation is forgiveness.
For hope to exist for reconciliation or restoration of the relationship, there must be forgiveness for past damage, hurt and pain.
But forgiveness does not mean forgetting or letting your wayward spouse off the hook.
It does mean giving up the right to retribution, anger, bitterness or justice. It means putting the affair behind you and moving forward without dragging your old baggage with you to a new relationship or to create problems with any hope of restoration in your old relationship.
Without forgiveness there is no hope – and for reconciliation to happen, you both have to be able to forgive both yourselves and your partner.
You both had some degree of responsibility in damaging the relationship (though it’s the cheater who bears the full responsibility for their affair) and you both need to forgive and seek forgiveness.
Hope also comes with a plan.
If the two of you are seeking reconciliation, then making that marriage reconciliation plan would be easier. However, just because only one person wants reconciliation doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for a future together.
Sometimes it can take more time for one to come to the realization that reconciliation is what they want than it does for the other partner. If you have the patience to wait through their healing, then re-establishing your relationship may be possible.
Another factor in finding hope for reconciliation is the ability of both parties to rebuild trust between the two of you. In some instances one partner broke that trust – through abuse, cheating or perceived cheating – trust has been broken between the two of you.
Women have to trust the men that they sleep with and there has to be trust between two people to develop a strong relationship. And if you hope to keep this relationship together for the long-term, you’ll need trust.
Both of you will also have to reach compromises that allow both parties to keep their dignity while rebuilding trust and making the changes that must happen in order to re-establish a relationship.
Be objective about the present and past in your relationship and honest with yourself about whether you WANT to spend the future with your former cheating partner.
Without considering these options your hope for a solid future is poor.
Reconciliation is This What We Really Want?
Once the affair is out in the open, for whatever reasons, most feel the pressure of their children, family and friends to consider reconciliation and restoration. Reconciliation is important to your future emotional and mental health, as well as your future relationships.
Through forgiveness and reconciliation you can move on to either restore your previous relationship or to another relationship. Before traveling the road that may lead to restoration, you have several important questions to ask of yourself.
As you are evaluating the potential for change and forward movement in your own life you have to take an emotional step back from this relationship and the emotions that come with it.
In order to be the most objective you can about the history of you and your partner and an evaluation of the potential for a future together, you have to get rid of the past and the hurt and pain that went with it.
Before even thinking of restoration, it’s important that you and your spouse address reconciliation first. Only through forgiveness and the ability to interact well can you consider restoration.
And, while your friends and family may have your best interest at heart, they didn’t live in the same house with the two of you and any children.
When a marriage is shattered by infidelity, it means you must take the time to thoroughly think about any type of a future with your partner before you jump back into the saddle.
It’s important to take things slowly or you could be caught up in a moment of weakness, loneliness or passion and do something you’ll later regret.
Both of you should move slowly to re-establishing a relationship and neither should push.
One red flag that will increase your risk of failure in restoring your relationship is if one of you is pushing to get back together without working through the issues that tore you apart in the first place. This is a red flag that you may not want to restore your relationship.
Is restoration healthy for the family?
You and your spouse are/were a family, whether you had children or not.
Is getting back together the healthiest thing for both of you?
In order to be healthy there must have been change on both your parts, a willingness to learn new skills and seek professional help to navigate the muddy waters of re-establishing a relationship that suffered damage and pain.
During the process you should both place conditions on the establishment of a relationship. You both agree on the conditions and be sure that they are held up as you are moving forward. And since cheating was involved trust will also have to be re-established between you.
As you work through these questions, consider if the two of you can complete the tasks and if you want the relationship. Can you realistically see yourself with your partner long-term or is your gut telling you to hold back and wait a bit longer?
Your intuition is smarter than you are about your heart – it’s time to start listening.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Reconcile
Reconciliation has pros and cons depending upon the relationship prior to the betrayal. But there are specific reasons why neither people in the relationship should consider reconciling.
1. You aren’t being given the time to consider the idea of reconciliation.
Sometimes your spouse is so focused on getting back together that they don’t give you the time to consider whether it’s the right thing for you to do. This is a real negative sign that the reconciliation is not the best thing to do.
People who are desperate want things as quickly as possible. But people who are committed to making your relationship work will be willing to wait for you to make up your mind because they truly care about you.
Caring and love means looking out for the other person without focusing solely on themselves. In order to give you the space you need to make up your mind your spouse must love you. If they don’t love you then what is the point to getting back together?
2. Your gut is telling you NOT to reconcile.
Your gut, or that little voice inside your head, is one of the most reliable indicators of what is right and wrong in your life. When your gut feels uneasy about the decision you’re making then it’s time to take a step back and reconsider. At a primal level your gut was responsible for keeping you out of situations in which you could have been injured or killed.
While you may not be in mortal danger, you gut is still an accurate indicator of what is right and wrong for you. Learn to listen and pay attention to what’s being communicated and you’ll be able to side-step more problems as you move forward.
3. You feel manipulated by the other person.
Manipulation and control are two issues that should send you running into the next county. Although some behaviors may make you feel loved and cared for, your partner should allow you to be your own person. Manipulation and control is just a way for them to control your behavior so they can get what they want and not to give you what you want.
4. Your spouse was abusive.
Anytime your partner was abusive – either mentally, emotionally or physically – you should never return… unless they have undergone extensive therapy and counseling to reverse their behaviors. People who promise they will stop without getting help will not stop until they get help.
5. You are happier without them at home.
When your home life was full of strife and anger, you may be happier without them at home. Unless you have good reason to reconcile then you’ll probably be happier alone.
6. Your spouse hasn’t changed since the affair came to light and you will be facing the same issues.
This should be pretty straight forward. If you are going back to the same issues then you’ll end up with the same results.
7. You are feeling lonely.
Being lonely or feeling lonely is a classic reason that people reconcile with their exes. Unfortunately, they often walk right back into situations that they left for a REASON. If you don’t have a reason to go back – if they haven’t changed or you were abused – it’s better to be alone and lonely, than to be lonely IN a relationship.
Why You Should Reconcile and Why People Don’t
As we said before, reconciliation is about forgiveness and being able to move forward in your life. Sometimes it leads to restoration of a relationship, but restoration can’t happen without reconciliation.
Well, let’s back that up a bit.
Yes, you can restore a relationship without reconciliation but the potential for success is close to zero.
Without forgiving what happened in the past and asking for forgiveness for your own part in the process you’ll be not only facing the same issues, but you’ll also be working through old hurts at the same time.
Reconciliation will help your own personal growth and development as well as your ability to be a better person. But, sometimes people don’t consider reconciliation because they didn’t know they had a part in the damage to the relationship.
They don’t recognize the issues that were theirs. Unresolved pain, abuse or hurt must be dealt with before you can move forward with this or any other relationship.
In some instances people allow their pride to get in the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. We have a tendency to think that the other person is totally at fault and we hold no responsibility. As a result, no one seeks forgiveness or reconciliation and nothing is accomplished
There are several important reasons that you should seek reconciliation with your former cheating partner, and all of them are for your own health. One of the important aspects of forgiveness is that it affects your own physical and emotional health long-term.
Forgiving others will help reduce the anger and bitterness that you can live with when you harbor feelings of anger and retribution for someone else.
Forgiveness means giving up the desire for retribution or justice. You no longer play the situations over and over in your head. You get rid of the baggage that comes along with that relationship and move on to a healthier and better future.
Reconciliation also brings closure to your relationship and the pain and hurt from the past. That closure gives you the ability to move forward emotionally without injecting this pain into your next relationship.
Consider reconciliation and forgiveness a gift you give yourself.
Reconciliation Slowly And With Caution
If you both have decided that reconciliation and restoration of your relationship is possible, it is also important that you both put on the brakes and take things slowly and cautiously.
It will be very easy to run headlong back in to a relationship that feels comfortable and easy.
You’ll have rekindled the feelings you had when you first met or first married, but these are not real.
Yes, you do feel those romantic feelings for your spouse, but you also have months or years of hurt and pain that must first be forgiven and dealt with.
When you allow your feelings to carry you away, you’ll have a great potential for falling in to the same trap you did before the affair happened. Without permanent change to the relationship and the individuals, you’ll experience the same pain, hurt and heartache that you did the first time around.
Pay attention to what is happening as you start down this new road.
When you are re-establishing an old relationship it is, for all intents and purposes, a new relationship.
You may feel the same rush of feelings, romantic notions and desire to be together all the time.
You also have a background that is sure to rear it’s ugly head again as you begin to settle in to your routine.
The feelings carry you away but you will crash and burn unless you each make permanent changes.
You might try to ignore what happened in the past but you’ll be surprised by some of those old feelings later.
As you both work slowly and cautiously toward a new future it’s important that you both learn new relationship skills. These will help you to work through the issues that you had before and any new ones that pop up as you move along.
It is important to learn new ways of working through issues and of communicating clearly. Becoming an active listener creates a healthy environment from which you can both learn and grow.
Pay attention to the issues you experienced before the cheating occurred…
If your partner didn’t feel heard, then start listening and acting on the knowledge you have.
If your partner felt unloved, then it’s time to understand how to communicate your feelings for them.
Learn the five love languages and which one your partner speaks.
If your partner felt that communications were strained, then it’s time to start learning new skills that will take you through the future.
Reconciliation Only After Changes Have Been Made
Any permanent reconciliation must come with change.
This is permanent change that both of you must work toward in order to make your new relationship work. Any breakdown in the marriage is the result of both parties and never just one person’s fault.
Although one person may have more responsibility than the other, both will bear some responsibility for the damage, hurt and pain. Before considering reconciliation it’s important to determine a few factors about the changes that must be made.
Before considering whether or not you want to reconcile with your partner, consider if they are making real changes in their life.
How do you determine if there is real change?
Most of the time the person will demonstrate change in their daily interactions with you.
Keep your guard up and watch the behavior carefully.
Too often you ‘fall in love’ with your partner all over again for the same reasons you fell in love in the first place. These emotions can sweep you away so that you make decisions that you later regret.
So, it’s time to be objective about the changes they are demonstrating and to be sure that these changes are permanent.
If they had anger management issues do not make any permanent decision until you’ve seen them go through several situations that would have normally sent them over the edge. Anger and abuse are issues that cause permanent damage in your life and the lives of your children.
Before bringing that situation back into the home again, be sure that it has been resolved.
This type of change (to move from abuse) requires the help of a professional. Don’t be conned into believing that your partner has made these changes in their ability to handle stress by just hearing them tell you.
Permanent change is only made in this arena with the help of a professional who can suggest different methods of dealing with the stress and anger management. Without it, you’ll be facing the same issues within weeks.
Even without abuse or anger management issues, professional help is the best option for a couple who is interested in reconciliation or restoration. That counseling can help you to build trust again in the relationship and learn how to trust your partner.
Trust is necessary in order to develop a strong bond that lasts for years.
Before writing off the potential for reconciliation, consider counseling and change. Even if it doesn’t work, it will better prepare you for your next relationship without dragging the baggage from this one along with you.
How You Can Improve The Chances of Reconciling
Before seeking ideas about how to improve your chances at making reconciliation work, be sure that reconciliation is what you really want and it’s the healthiest thing for both of you.
Sometimes we want an old relationship back because we’re lonely.
Remember your past with 20/20 vision and not rose colored glasses.
When you’re lonely it’s hard to remember exactly how bad things might have been and easy to fall back in to old habits because you’re lonely and tired.
It is important that you are willing to accept responsibility for your own part in the problem and be willing to fix it.
No relationship breaks up because of one person.
Each of us contributed, even when infidelity is involved.
If your partner cheated it wasn’t your fault. But it is your responsibility to place limits on their behavior and get out when they step over the line.
Accept your part of the problem and move on. If you can’t accept that you had a piece of the problem then your hope for reconciliation will be slim.
Think about the reasons why they cheated and what the best chance is to resolve the issues. It can require a major overhaul in someone’s attitudes, beliefs or actions.
And, that someone could very well be you.
Don’t react to what’s said or done.
Instead, it’s time to act.
In other words, don’t use anger or other extreme emotions, but stay calm as you both work through conversations. Yelling, screaming, name-calling or threatening will squash any hope of reconciliation.
Express your emotions calmly and rationally or you’ll scare your partner into the next county.
Don’t beg… ever.
Your spouse knows you well enough to know when you are being sincere or trying to just smooth things over without the intention of doing anything permanent.
Persistence is good, begging is bad.
Persistence preserves your self-respect, begging loses it.
Maintain the balance between communicating that you are willing to change and work on the relationship together and not begging them to take you back.
Although friends and family mean well and want the best for you, it’s important to keep them out of the equation. You’ll want to talk with a professional about the situation and the problems.
If you do restore your relationship, what you share with them when you are upset and angry will be there afterward and quite possibly place a wedge between yourself and your family and friends.
In the beginning the two of you were deeply in love.
Remember why you were and remind your partner too.
Think back to what attracted you to each other and find a way of rekindling those feelings once again.
Getting a Professional to Help You Through Reconciliation
Successfully reconciling with your partner after infidelity means you will need professional assistance.
This can be a professional counselor/coach, a therapist, an online program, reading books about infidelity and can include a combination of methods. You should choose whichever option(s) works best for you and your partner.
Often, the problems that led to the cheating in the first place are so deeply rooted in your personal relationship or in either of your personality’s, that it is difficult to differentiate without help.
Getting professional help is nothing to be embarrassed about or feel that you aren’t strong enough to get through this yourself. Unfortunately, these are feelings that many couples experience and therefore they don’t seek the real help they need to develop strong and healthy relationships.
If you had pneumonia you would see your medical doctor for a short time until you were well. The same is true for any behavioral problem that you might have yourself or inside of a relationship.
In the past, most counseling was focused on past experiences to explain present behavior. But you can get behavioral therapy that focuses just on the issues at hand and gives you ways of dealing with your anger, your control issues or your inability to relate well with your partner.
You don’t have to delve deep into your past relationships with parents, uncles, aunts and teachers to discover the reasons. You can work through changing the behavior and establishing a better relationship with just a couple of months of therapy.
Getting professional help also shows your partner that you are serious about a reconciliation and changing your behavior that may have contributed to the break-up of your relationship. This simple step is a powerful communication of your intent and your love for that person.
A therapist can help you both get to the bottom of the issues between you and help you determine whether or not you both want this reconciliation and are willing to work hard to achieve it.
Communication is the foundation of any relationship. Therapy can help you communicate more effectively, understand each other better and develop healthier patterns with each other.
What’s the Secret to Successful Reconciliation?
The secret of how to reconcile a marriage after infidelity successfully, is the same for each couple.
Successful reconciliation means engaging in a relationship in which you have let go of the past and ready to face the future together.