Infidelity can take an enormous toll on a relationship. Cheated-on spouses often experience feelings of anger and depression, as well as inability to move past the details of the affairs or trust the other spouse. The cheating spouse, meanwhile, may feel ashamed and confused as to what the next step should be. In order to fix the relationship, both parties must confront their feelings and work together. Some couples develop a closer, more intimate bond as a result.
Discuss your feelings with someone who will be supportive and non-judgmental. Rather than giving advice or opinions, it is most important that this person to be able to listen. If you are the victim of infidelity, this person should, ideally, be someone other than your spouse. A cheating spouse will likely become defensive when you share your feelings, which will hinder a constructive discussion. Consider sharing your feelings with a support group, therapist, family member or friend.
Participate in individual counseling if you are having doubts about reconciliation and are unsure of where you want the relationship to go. Successful recovery from infidelity requires both parties to be equally committed to working towards this goal.
Understand--as a couple--the motivation behind a spouse’s infidelity. In an effort to appease the situation, cheating spouses often make the mistake of not telling the other why they cheated. A couple must resolve these underlying issues in order to move forward in the relationship. The cheating spouse should, therefore, disclose full details of what happened, as lingering questions can foster uncertainty and mistrust in the long run. In addition, working together to resolve a problem can provide both parties with a sense of cohesiveness and reassurance.
Think carefully about your apology if you are the cheating spouse. Acknowledge the fact that you have hurt your partner’s feelings with a statement such as, “I am sorry for…It was wrong for me to...” Do not fall into the trap of immediately following your apology with an excuse, for example, “I am sorry about what happened, but I was feeling confused about…”
Make promises to each other about the course of your relationship from this point forward and each party’s behavior. These promises must be explicit and mutually agreed upon. A promise must also be realistic; a broken promise during the recovery process is likely to do even more damage than the initial incident.
Consider drawing up a post-nuptial agreement guaranteeing compensation for the other spouse if the cheating spouse relapses into infidelity. Whether or not the cheating spouse is willing to sign it will be an indicator of how committed he is to fixing the relationship.
Keep in mind that serial cheating is often significantly more difficult to overcome than an isolated incident. Recurring infidelity has been linked to personality traits, which are not easy to change.