When your partner strays, it can feel like the end of the world and the end of your relationship. In the vast majority of cases, it does signal the end, however, with hard work and a willingness from both parties to salvage your relationship, reconciliation is possible. This article gives a step by step guide to rebuilding your relationship after infidelity.
If you are the innocent party, the first step to saving your relationship or marriage is to allow your emotions out. Putting on a brave face or ignoring your emotions enables tie you up in knots. You've been wronged, you entitled to feel whatever you feel. If you are the straying party and you desperately regret what you've done, you need to give your partner permission to say or feel whatever they need to without judging or defending yourself. This is harder than you might think, but ultimately, nothing says I'm sorry more than fully acknowledging and accepting the consequences of your actions.
No affair happens without cause and both parties need to accept that. This is not to say someone needs to be 'blamed' but there is always an underlying cause. Unless this cause is found and examined, there prognosis is bleak. After all, if the problem caused this affair, it will cause another one! Using a notepad and pen, both parties should write down every reason they can think of that may have caused the affair using only 'I' statements. Examples may include, 'I spend too much time at work' or 'I have stopped making an effort with my appearance' Compare and discuss your views. There are almost always two different views of the problems in your relationship. After all, if you knew that your partner had a problem with your work schedule, perhaps you may have done something about that beforehand! Extreme caution should be exercised here. Never apportion blame or point the finger at your partner. Remember, your views are your opinions and it is normal for opinions to differ. This is not a process of defending yourself, it's a process of discovery. Ultimately, if your partner feels you're neglecting them, it doesn't matter if they are right or wrong, what matters is the way they feel and how the behave as a result!
The innocent party should be given an opportunity (or opportunities) to ask questions. This may be very uncomfortable for the cheating party, however, your level of comfort must be secondary to your partners need to know. The innocent party may benefit from writing down all the questions they have. This ensures that nothing is missed or omitted. Cheating damages trust and trust is notoriously difficult to rebuild. Giving your partner the opportunity to test your honesty is the first step in the rebuilding of trust. Do not excuse your behaviour, lie about it, or blame anyone else. No one made the choice but you and you need to take responsibility.
Steps 1 - 3 have equipped you both with knowledge. You now know where the problems lie and exactly what happened during the indiscretion (if you wished to). Step 4 is the point where you begin to use that information to resolve your situation. Starting with the innocent party, discuss the things that you need to see happen to solve the problem. Examples may include 'You finish work at 5pm, it takes 15 minutes to get home, I need you home by 5.20pm'. These requests may be unreasonable, however, they are also necessary. The cheating party may feel they are living in a goldfish bowl. This can be tough to take. However, you need to understand that you have made your partner feel stupid and therefore, they feel a need to check and double check everything! This is not something that will last forever, it is something that is needed until have earned back their trust. Repeat the process with the cheating party. If. for example, they feel you have neglected your appearance, and they list this as something that caused them to stray, it is in your interests to change that. Failure to address the cause, however superficial or unwarranted you may think it is, can only lead to further problems.
Remember that this is an ongoing process and there are no quick, easy fixes. The two of you need to be patient and tolerant and understand that the affair is a joint problem. If you want to stay together, you have to tackle the problem together, for to point the finger, blame each other and complain about the situation will divide you rather than keep you together. There will be times when you feel like you are too angry or upset the situation. Dealing with this times in a constructive way is crucial to ensuring you do not go back to square one. Decide a course of action for these times. Perhaps you agree that when you feel you are going to say something you'll regret or point the finger, you have a place that you go to cool off. Agree to respect that time and space your partner needs. Pressing the issue, forcing the argument will set you back.
Finally, the onus is on the cheating party to do what their partner needs. Ask yourself each day what you can do to make the burden lighter or show how much you appreciate the chance you have been given. This is not about materialistic gifts, taking the time to lighten their work load, renting their favourite DVD, cooking dinner, washing their car are all just as appreciated. Give back what you took away, your time, your attention and your honesty.
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