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How to Rebuild Trust in Your Relationship After an Affair or Infidelity

by Jen Whitten

Marital infidelity is a major cause of divorce in the United States, but not all couples separate after an extramarital affair. Regardless of reason, some couples decide to work through the pain, anger and guilt in order to rebuild the marriage and regain closeness. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship and finding a way to restore it is critical to the success of your marriage. By no means is it easy to trust a spouse after a betrayal. You and your spouse must work through this and any other issues in your marriage together if you have any hope of survival.

Be honest with your spouse. To rebuild trust after an affair, both of you must be honest with each other. If you cheated on your wife, you have to admit it and answer her questions about why, when and who. On the other hand, your wife must be open about her feelings. She should be able to express whether she's hurt or angry. Even if she believes she hates you for the affair, you need to know this.

Cease all communication with the third party. Saying you'll never be unfaithful to your husband again means little when you're still in contact with your ex-lover. Licensed marriage and family therapist Karen Barton advises that if you want him to believe your infidelity is in the past, break ties with the other party out of respect for your marriage.

Seek professional help. Your spouse cannot trust you after an affair until she's healed. Although it's tempting to avoid discussing the affair, burying feelings is unproductive. Regular sessions with an experienced marriage therapist can help the healing process by focusing your efforts.

Get to the root of the issue. If there are underlying issues in your marriage that led you to cheat on your husband, build trust by working to correct the root problem. This is not the time to tell your husband you cheated because he's always at work, but you should discuss ways to overcome challenges and grow closer as a result.

Demonstrate your trustworthiness. While it will take time for your wife to trust you after the affair, use little opportunities to prove your commitment to her. Let her know when plans change or if you'll be home late from work. Invite her to come with you if you're going out with the guys. It may not speed up her willingness to trust you, but doing what you say you'll do can't hurt.

Tip

  • Consider individual counseling sessions for further work on personal issues. Give your spouse opportunities to earn trust. Even if you're worried your wife will be unfaithful again, you must let her leave the house without you at some point. Seeing that she's not lying to you or sneaking around will help you rebuild trust.

Warning

  • Understand that you may not be able to save your marriage after an affair. Dr. William Doherty of the University of Minnesota warns that an affair can signal the end of a marriage.

About the Author

Jen Whitten began her freelance writing career in 2003. Her experience in the financial services industry and as a healthy living consultant informs her articles for eHow, LIVESTRONG.COM and several other websites. She has received series 7, series 66 and Group 1 life insurance licenses, as well as a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.