CAN A COUPLE ever regain that trust after one of the partners has cheated? That was the question we asked readers last week.
Well, to be precise, we asked: Can a relationship ever be fixed once an affair has taken place; and if so how? Well the reactions were mixed and some were along gender lines.
But what do the experts say?
Commit to a solution
First of all, don’t expect a quick fix. Infidelity impacts on the basic fundamentals of your commitment to one another, your sense of trust, safety and familiarity. We encourage couples to commit to therapy every week for a while. There is also the consideration of the couple making an adultery contract that states the adulterer’s promise not to cheat again and to cut off all contact with the affair.
One successful technique is for the adulterer to regularly assure the betrayed partner that there has been no contact with the affair and if the affair tries to contact him or her, they must announce it and report that they did not accept the call or call back.
This helps to increase the trust in the relationship. Another key part of rebuilding that trust involves letting their partner know what their schedule is and avoiding having long periods of unaccounted-for time.
Check your anger
The victim of the affair is often plagued with thoughts of the betrayal. He or she will think about times their spouse may have lied, will visualise the details of the adulterous sexual encounters and may obsess about many lies they have been told.
Feelings of depression, lack of self-worth and extreme anger at the adulterer are also common. It is important to allow the victim to vent his or her anger, but in a controlled, time-limited way. While there may be sufficient remorse over his or her behaviour, it nevertheless becomes very difficult for the adulterer to feel invested in the marriage, and its healing, if they are being constantly bashed for their past behaviour.
I often advise couples to allow ten minutes a day for venting. The victim can yell, scream, throw emotional darts, but only for a short period of time and then must stop. The betrayed spouse should be able to ask questions in order to move on, and the adulterer must answer them, but it’s important to avoid giving the gory sexual details, no matter how much the victimised spouse asks. It will not help with sexual healing later on.
Address the root of the problem
When we see couples after an affair, it almost always becomes evident that the infidelity was about much more than seeking sex. It is also common for the spouse having the affair to feel unremorseful, and for the victimised spouse to feel that it wasn’t his or her fault either.
Neither partner wants to take responsibility. But in order for healing to begin, each partner must explore the personal issues that may have inspired the infidelity. Sometimes it’s inspired by low self-esteem, or is a symptom of a larger midlife crisis where the adulterer is questioning everything in his or her life, including work, marriage and their place in the community.
Other times there is a family history of infidelity, where having an affair was actually a “learned behaviour” and was condoned or encouraged. Once there is some clarity about what issues each partner has brought to the table, you can start working on yourselves and the relationship.
Now here are some of the responses from online readers:
• This can be achieved with a lot of prayer and trust .The latter does not come easy. It is for the individual who committed the infidelity (in the case of married persons) to show that they are committed to the relationship and is working on change. We forgive but we cannot forget. Therefore the slightest notion that the person is “up to no good “again could make you press the warning button.
The person “wronged” should also try to making the relationship stronger. Remember it is two of you in it together .Therefore as soon as something happen it is not wise to remind the person all the time of what they did before.
I believe that the person who “stepped out” should sever ALL Ties with that person with whom they went. At least this shows you are serious . It is unfair and unreasonable to think that your partner will ever feel confident knowing you still hold them as your friend . You must remember it was your affair with them that caused the break up.
So if a relationship is to be truly fixed how can your girlfriend or wife feel good and want to really work on it if they look in Face Book per say and see the said woman that you were involved with as one of your good friends . We both must want it and work towards it for the relationship to go get better .we must be as transparent as possible in our doings .Gabrielle
• After an affair a relationship can never be fixed because it always in the back of their minds. Bajan Baltimore, MD
• President Obama said: “Yes we can”. Why the hell not? A little pain wouldn't hurt! Optimistic
• Relationships can be mended after an affair only if the two people really still love each other. The only thing I don’t like is when they don't truly forgive each other and they keep throwing the mistake in one another face all the time. SNLHIf
• I have an affair as I usually do, and got found out I expect to be forgiven because I am a man, if the woman have an affair she should not be forgiven because women should only have one man at a time. A relationship would never survive if my woman cheat because I simply will never accept any other man eating out my plate. Student A
•Some relationships can be fixed after an affair but it will not be easy, only if the parties involved are determined to fix it, one must take into consideration the content of the affair. It may be difficult living with the knowledge knowing what happen and can still lead to problems. The best solution would be to go separate ways. MC