Infidelity has been in the news lately. Well-known athletes, Hollywood stars, and politicians have been making public apologies for their ‘indiscretions.’ Many people in similar situations are willing to forgive, but what are the steps to mend a relationship after infidelity?
There’s a lot to be said for people who choose to work through the pain caused by infidelity. They may have an inner strength which allows them forgive and forget the past while having courage enough to face what the future holds. Rather than dwell on being hurt, they remember what they love about the person and decide they’d prefer not live without them.
Before you can mend a relationship after infidelity, it’s important to know why a partner was unfaithful. This means you’ll need to talk openly and honestly with one another. If you don’t think you can do this on your own, you may want to seek out a marriage counselor.
What can marriage counseling do for you? To begin with they’re able to hear both sides of the story without being emotionally involved. If you need a non-partial mediator they’re more than able to help in that regard.
A marriage counselor can also pose questions or make observations neither of you may have considered. They are there to facilitate your conversation, to keep it civil when hurt feelings make themselves known, and bring you back to a point where you both can recognize your own responsibility for what’s happened. While the actual infidelity may have occurred with only one person, the other person may have withheld emotions or communication which made the unfaithful seek solace elsewhere.
It may be difficult to do, especially when the wounds are new, but it’s important to let the unfaithful partner know they’re forgiven. Don’t keep bringing up their unfaithfulness in the future when things aren’t going so well; in fact, it’s better not to bring the subject up again. If the instance is constantly dragged up whenever you have a disagreement, don’t be surprised if they don’t believe your sincerity about forgiving them.
Don’t be afraid to tell them how much you were hurt by their infidelity. Be open about your feelings but don’t accuse them. Rather than saying ‘you did this’ try to say ‘this is how I felt because of this.’ Try to keep your voice even and if they have something to say about the subject, truly listen to them.
Sometimes feelings are too raw and you find you can’t forgive; in this case it may be better to end the relationship. If you’re married, try to separate for a period of time first before forging ahead with a divorce. Allow yourself enough time to consider everything that’s happened and reassess your feelings. You may even want to try dating again and seeing if you can work your relationship out.
You may come to the conclusion that there’s no way you could trust them again. If this is the case, try to separate permanently in an amicable way. This is especially important if children are involved. Be sure to reassure the children that they are not the cause of the divorce, that you and your partner have differences that can’t be resolved, and that the other parent will still be a part of their life.
No one wants to experience unfaithfulness, but there are steps to mend a relationship after infidelity if that’s what you choose. Once you have made the choice to forgive and rebuild your relationship, good for you. If that’s not possible, try to let go with dignity.