If you had an affair, you must regain your partner's trust if you wish to continue the relationship. The process takes time and includes good and bad days, writes marriage therapist Sheri Meyers, author of “Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.” You will need to accept that regaining her trust will require hard work from you and a willingness to forgive from her.
End the Affair
Your first step must be to end the affair and eliminate all contact with your affair partner, insists syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson. Don’t write, call, see, text or talk to her if you want your partner to believe that you want to remain in your relationship. Be transparent with your phone, email and chat logs and with how you spend your time. Your partner might insist on checking your accounts, cell phone bill, credit card receipts and other documentation to verify that you have ended the affair. Clinical psychologist Dr. Janis A. Spring, author of "After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful," suggests accepting those restrictions as you work to regain her trust because they are "low-cost" behaviors that are less emotionally-charged, but still effective in helping to restore broken trust.
Eliminate the secrecy in your relationship. Willingly and truthfully answer your partner’s questions. Don't expect that explaining it was only sex will make it OK for her -- she will see it as a relationship connection with emotional ties. Listen to her explain her pain and anger, suggests Meyers, repeating her pain in your own words so she knows that you get it. Spring recommends putting the information in writing with a written apology that clearly cites specific examples of how you hurt her and what you will do to prevent another affair. Detail how you will demonstrate your sorrow and how much you love and want to remain with your partner. You need to be willing to be completely open and honest as you work to rebuild your relationship.
The old axiom, "actions speak louder than words" is true, especially in recovering trust. Demonstrate dependability by being where you say you will be when you say you will be there. Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep. Be totally honest -- avoiding even white lies. Be consistent in your actions and responsive to your partner’s needs. Listen to her pain and respond empathetically. Admit your responsibility without blaming her for the affair -- you made the decision to cheat regardless of what she did or didn’t do to meet your needs. Mutually construct a list of acceptable behaviors for your relationship and personal behavior and abide by them.
Your partner is not likely to enthusiastically jump in bed with you if she doesn’t trust you. The specter of your affair partner will be sharing your bed for a while, writes Spring. Be willing to discuss your partner’s fears and desires. Determine her needs and meet them consistently. Meyers recommends including daily doses of affection, attention and expressions of appreciation for your partner. Remember that you must rebuild her trust and your relationship one day at a time.
- Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship; Sheri Meyers
- Detroit Free Press: Amy Dickinson: Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity Takes Extra Commitment
- After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful; Janis Spring
- Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images