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Repairing a Relationship After a Betrayal

by Shannon Philpott

Betrayals, lies and hurtful feelings can significantly affect an intimate relationship. In fact, emotional pain is often comparable to physical pain when a breach of trust occurs, according to Steven Stosny in the Psychology Today article, "Healing From Intimate Betrayal." Working through your feelings from a breach in trust takes time and effort from both parties. If you and your mate have agreed to repair the relationship, open communication can help you rebuild and set the foundation for a long-term, successful relationship.

Address the Problem

When couples are working through infidelity, lies or betrayal, men and women often go through a period of emotional instability, in which they blame themselves and doubt their feelings and intuition, according to Robert Weiss in the PsychCentral article,"Understanding Relationship, Sexual, and Intimate Betrayal as Trauma (PTSD)." While males may go on the defensive and rely on reasoning to deny or process the information, women may react with overly emotional responses that can lead to arguments or accusations. Address the problem directly and openly, versus sweeping it under the rug. Even though it may be difficult to acknowledge a betrayal or a lie, it is a necessary step to repair the trust in the relationship, says Lynette Hoy, a marriage and family counselor on the website Power to Change. Discuss the betrayal instead of ignoring it, so you can discuss how the other’s actions made you feel.

Investigate the Cause

If one or both of you feel the need to foster secrets, it’s likely that the relationship will continue down a rocky road with feelings of resentment and uncertainty. Investigate why and how the betrayal occurred to get to the root of the problem. If you feel trapped or suffocated by the relationship, communicate this feeling with your partner. It may be that you both need to establish boundaries or time alone to feel more independent. Recognize your communication patterns and avoid defensive behavior when communicating with each other. If disagreements ensue, consider discussing underlying issues within the relationship with a mediator or professional counselor. Ideal recovery after a betrayal relies on establishing trust with one another, but more importantly, learning to trust your own instincts, seek out support or relationship counseling and focus on self-care to build your own sense of self, Weiss says.

Take Ownership

No one is perfect and both of you must realize this. Even though it is challenging to admit wrongdoing, it is necessary to acknowledge your part to move forward. Show your partner that you are willing to rebuild trust by admitting your part in the breakdown or betrayal. When people work up the courage to admit faults, it shows genuine care for another person, says Randy Conley for The Ken Blanchard Companies. If betrayed individuals choose to recommit to the relationship, it takes time to reestablish comfort and real trust with the spouse. If you betrayed your wife's trust with lies, accept that it will take time to rebuild that trust again; however, showing her genuine acts of kindness and reassuring your commitment to an honest relationship will help both of you heal. Take the first step by taking ownership of your faults and it is likely your mate will do the same.

Apologize, Forgive and Move On

A sincere apology shows that you are remorseful for your actions. Begin moving toward rebuilding a healthy relationship by offering an apology, identifying the actions you regret. If your partner is apologetic, agree to forgive him or her and prepare to put the betrayal behind you. Leaving the pain in the past opens the door to begin the relationship with a clean slate. When couples avoid excuses and justifications for their behavior, they are able to transform a damaged relationship into a sacred one, according to Linda and Charlie Bloom in the Psychology Today article, "Betrayal: It's Not Just About Infidelity." In fact, the crisis that occurs after the betrayal has led many couples to a deeper understanding of each other, resulting in a stronger relationship and a more trustworthy union.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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