Infidelity is one of the most stressful things that can happen in a marriage. Suddenly, the trust that you had in your spouse has vanished because he started an intimate relationship with someone else.
Many people find that even if they have the best intentions when it comes to restoring a broken relationship, it's hard for both partners to recover from the shock caused by infidelity. So what can you do to mend something that's broken and make your relationship as strong as it was before?
Here are some tips on how to recover from infidelity :
1. Understand that hurt feelings are natural.
If you've been cheated on, overcoming the sense of betrayal that accompanies infidelity is difficult. If your partner was dishonest regarding your relationship, what other aspects of your life, like your finances, your career, or your health could also be affected?
Conversely, if you were the one committing the infidelity, you need to recognize your responsibility for the current situation. You may try to justify things by saying that your spouse "drove" you to your actions, but the fact remains that you acted on your stress or desire. Blaming your partner for your actions will only diminish your trust in each other and reinforce whatever problems previously existed in your relationship.
2. Find a therapist or counselor to help you and your partner.
Infidelity in a marriage can be a more stressful event than a job loss or a death in the family. You wouldn't expect to go it alone when dealing with grief, so why expect to do so when dealing with a loss of trust between you and your spouse? Finding a therapist, whether it's one that will work with you individually or with both of you together, will help you determine what patterns and interactions in your relationship need work.
Also, a therapist's office can be a safe or neutral space to discuss sensitive issues. Your counselor can mediate between both of you.
3. Understand why you or your spouse cheated and put in measures to compensate for that issue.
Did your spouse cheat because he or she was feeling undervalued in your relationship? Did you cheat because you had become bored with your partner? Rebuilding your relationship will involve deep introspection to discover what motivated the infidelity in the first place. Make a list of questions to ask your spouse after infidelity so you can dig deeper and find out what caused the problem. No need to start a debate; have a calm and polite heart to heart to find out what the problem was.
For example, if you were overly critical of your spouse, you'll need to find new ways to communicate with them and understand what issues they're sensitive to, as well as assess your own values.
4. Find ways to reconnect.
What did you and your spouse enjoy doing together before the infidelity happened? Was it something that you stopped doing? Do you practice a new hobby that you would like to introduce to your spouse? Doing things together and scheduling time to talk to and appreciate each other is important. Although it may be painful at first, you need to spend time together. Shutting one another out, or avoiding each other so as not to bring up the stress you're both under, won't solve your problems -- in fact, it will make them worse.
5. Develop deeper emotional intimacy.
Infidelity is rarely about physical issues and mostly a result of emotional intimacy and unmet needs. Give your partner attention and love and care and a chance and reason to come closer to you. If you decide beforehand that forgiveness is not possible, you will not be able to fix the mess. Know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and there are couples out there that have survived infidelity. You need to have a heart to heart with your partner and find out why it happened and remember that it is going to be tough and strong efforts from both sides are required to get through it.
7. Don't expect band-aid solutions.
Don't expect that a single heartfelt conversation or a weekend couples' retreat will be enough to restore your relationship. Chances are that the circumstances that led to one partner cheating are deeply rooted in both your and your spouse's past actions, and have been reinforced by other aspects of your relationship. The breakdown of your relationship wasn't immediate, and rebuilding takes time.
The most important thing is that you need to make a commitment to each other for your relationship to work. Taking the time to talk to each other, change your behavious, or work with a therapist, is a good indicator of the commitment you are both willing to make.