Reconciling after infidelity is always an iffy proposition.
After all, there’s a deep break in a trust between two people who had previously committed themselves to each other.
It needs to be acknowledged before you can even think about restoring a relationship after infidelity. To be repaired, it takes a lot of hard work on both sides.
Even if you’re the partner who’s been betrayed, there’s still work to be done. While the affair is, of course, the fault of the person who strayed, the fact is, there may be underlying cracks in the relationship that need to be addressed.
It can be overwhelming and intense.
However, there are some things that you can do to help improve your chances of success in putting your relationship back together.
1. Cut Off Contact With the Other Person
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. In order for any reconciliation to have a realistic chance of success, the partner who strayed needs to stop all communication with the person they cheated with. This is non-negotiable.
There can be no “just” checking on them, or “wishing them well”, or anything of the sort.
Furthermore, the partner who cheated needs to go all the way in proving that all communication has been cut off.
The betrayed partner cannot hope to regain any trust in the relationship without this action.
The partner who strayed needs to keep an open schedule, with all plans and activities open to the other; they need to always let their partner know where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with.
And this needs to go on for as long as necessary on the betrayed partner’s timetable.
2. Be Teammates
If you both can look at each other as partners in a relationship again, then there may be hope in reconciliation.
Staying adversaries does not contribute to recovering from infidelity.
In order to improve the odds of success in getting back together, take a hard look at ways in which you can strengthen your identify as a team, where each member of the team puts the other over themselves.
It can help to back to what brought you together in the first place. What were your shared goals then? Can you work toward them again? Perhaps, given what you’ve been through, new goals are appropriate.
A good therapist can help you navigate this. Be sure to meet with the therapist together, though; remember, you’re trying to get back to being on the same team, and so you need to talk this out together.
3. Communicate Honestly
This is the time when both of you must answer questions honestly. The partner who cheated needs to tell the truth and take responsibility; they should be willing to have repeated conversations as many times as the betrayed partner feels is necessary, without complaint.
This is essential in helping the betrayed partner work through their feelings. Another way in which the cheating partner can communicate honestly is through transparency. Share cellphone and laptop PINs, as well as email and social media account passwords and access.
When meeting with a therapist, both partners should be truthful about the roots of any problems in the relationship.
Now is not the time to candy coat things.
Infidelity brings with it a lot of hurt feelings, along with other feelings like anger, insecurity, disappointment, shame, loneliness, and sadness.
Only by establishing a solid foundation can a relationship be rebuilt.
Having some of these conversations with a therapist can introduce a neutral third party who can call someone on their dishonesty, and help hold someone accountable from one session to the next.
4. Respect Each Other’s Space
Each will move through the reconciliation process at a different pace. One person or the other might want or need more or less togetherness or alone time.
This can vary greatly depending on whether partners are still living in the same house or if they are separated in any way. There is no right answer in navigating this obstacle.
What matters is that each partner is treated with respect, and that both people feel like they’re treated fairly when they say they need time apart or together.
This need for space or togetherness can change as a couple works through the aftermath of an affair.
People may want more or less interaction depending on what aspect of the affair they are working through at that time. There will be a natural ebb and flow to these interactions; respect each other’s needs and be patient.
5. Focus on the Now When Restoring a Relationship After Infidelity
Concentrate on moving forward.
While addressing the infidelity is essential, both parties should make a concerted effort not to dwell on it.
Do what you need to do now in order to rebuild.
The partner who cheated should be on time, answer the phone when called, and follow through on what they say they will do. The partner who was betrayed should do their best to interact with their partner based on their actions now, today.
While a really bad thing happened, a couple stands a much better chance of successfully moving beyond it if they can learn to concentrate on the good things now.
There is a new “normal” in the relationship.
6. Realize It’s an Evolution, Not an Event
Couples who are able to restore their relationship after cheating understand it takes time to repair the relationship.
We’re talking months and years, not just days or even weeks.
These partners work hard to keep their expectations realistic. Working with a therapist can help keep partners focused on the big picture and holding on to the future through the inevitable ups and downs.
Realize that there will be good days and bad days, and that the process of getting back together requires baby steps. However long you expect it to take to get back to “normal”, it will take longer.
Be patient with the process, and each other.
It may seem like this can go without saying, but forgiveness is perhaps the final, and most important element of successfully restoring a romantic relationship after infidelity.
It’s one thing to say words of forgiveness, and completely another to actively and genuinely mean them.
To forgive means no holding infidelity over the head of the other, and using it as a weapon during disagreements.
Forgiveness has to come with no strings attached, and it needs to be total and complete. And it’s natural that a betrayed partner would struggle with this. Again, a good therapist can help couples communicate, stay on task, and manage the process of forgiveness.
You Really Can Improve Your Chances of Reconciliation
Not every relationship affected by an affair is irreparably damaged. It is possible for some couples to come through the trauma and rebuild.
It won’t be just like it was before but it can still be good when restoring a relationship after infidelity, and some couples even report that the relationship is stronger than it was before.
By considering how the 7 things in this list might help you and your partner work your way though the pain and heartbreak associated with infidelity, you may have a much better chance of making it work again, and finding your way to the other side of this life-changing obstacle.