Being cheated on is a painful and confusing experience. You are told that cheating is unforgivable and it’s a sign the relationship has to come to an end. And it seems like the right thing to do. After all, you’ve been deeply betrayed and left feeling distrustful, inferior and insecure. But at the same time, you can’t forget the positive experiences you’ve shared or the bond you’ve developed over months or years together.
Quitting is not your only option, you can still have a happy, healthy, and trusting relationship after cheating.
The focus of this post is on how to move forward within the relationship after cheating, and how to avoid common mistakes couples make during this fragile time. It's not only possible to salvage a relationship after infidelity but it's also possible to use the experience as a learning tool to build an even stronger relationship and have a deeper understanding of your partner.
Here are 7 tips on how to recover your relationship after cheating:
Think before you act. It's understandable you’re feeling immense pain after being cheated on, but you should refrain from lashing out and hurting your partner in defense. Give yourself a time out, breathe and center yourself. Don't react by destroying property, screaming, or threatening anything. This serves no one. A temporary emotional release of this sort will not give you any peace of mind. You need to think from a clear mind so that you decide how to approach the situation in a productive manner.
Understand you’re not to blame. Cheating doesn't lower your worth, your value or mean that you are not enough. Don't take this on as your own shortcomings because although it feels personal, it is not. You may have to make some changes, but you can’t blame yourself for not changing sooner.
Give space for yourself - take time to process your feelings. Schedule time into your day to grieve and then get on with it. You want to work through your emotions without allowing them to take over you. Allow 15 minutes in the morning and at night to cry, lament and journal. Let it out but don't get addicted to it. For the rest of the day, do you! See friends, nurture yourself, hit the gym or yoga class. Give yourself a couple weeks to digest everything. Request that your partner give you this time and assure them you will reach out when you are ready to communicate.
Understand infidelity - Be open to seeing your partner's actions through compassion. Infidelity is usually is a symptom of needs not being fulfilled over a long period of time. It's much deeper than the act alone. This discussion and mutual compassion can be an opportunity to discover your partner's core needs, to label the patterns of dysfunction and learn about what's not working in the relationship that led to acting out and betraying the other. Often we can trace this back to couples speaking different love languages and not communicating their love in a way that their partner understands. Once we can understand infidelity we can begin the forgiving process and work towards relationship health.
Set boundaries and reassurance plans - If both members of the couple are motivated to repair their relationship and re-establish trust, then agreements and boundaries need to be set. Obviously, the third party is not to be contacted again. The partner who cheated must reassure the other consistently in their love language. Ask, "how can I reassure you?" Then put a plan into action to help build your partner's trust and sense of security. Be patient, healing is rarely linear. There will be good days and bad days. In the healing process, it is easy to gloss over or forget our partner's strengths, because the pain brings about waves of emotions. However, you have decided to work on the relationship. Each partner should write out the strengths and the good parts of the relationship so they have list to resort to when they're clouded by the hurt or frustrated at the pace of repair.
Talk positively about each other - Criticism erodes love. You fall in love with someone who makes you feel good. It can be very difficult to see amongst the pain but really start to look for the good. It's in the details. When you see it, express it. Great relationships are built through appreciation.
Seek professional help - As a couple and an individual. There was a lack of productive communication and understanding that led to this wedge in the relationship. A professional can assist in putting feelings into words and suggest actions to build the relationship vs destroy it. Friends and family are often bias, they have your protection at heart and may not be supportive of rebuilding the relationship. A professional is objective with focus on achieving your relationship goals. Click here to chat with one of our breakup coaches.