Can You Rebuild Your Relationship After an Affair?

Has your partner cheated on you or had an affair and you’re not sure if you should leave or stay? Are you wondering if you can repair your relationship with an unfaithful partner? Do you want to make a decision that will make you happy but aren’t sure how to do this?

Discovering your partner has cheated on you is, for the vast majority of people, an incredibly devastating experience. Not only does it cause many different strong emotions – anger, betrayal, grief, sadness, self-doubt, fear for the future, confusion, and more – but you also have to ask yourself whether you’ll leave your partner or if you want to try repairing the relationship. Both options can seem unpleasant – the idea of recreating an intimate relationship with someone who betrayed you can be upsetting, but you could also not want to walk away from the life you’ve built together.

Deciding what you should do next is often very confusing and there can be powerful arguments for leaving and for staying.

While affairs unavoidably cause heartache and do severe damage to a relationship, they don’t always mean the relationship has to end. Some people are able to rebuild a relationship after an affair. This takes a huge amount of work, both as an individual and with your partner. You need to be willing to explore painful emotions, communicate uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, and be highly introspective about what you and your partner used to have and what you want for the future.

Staying together might not be the best choice for either of you, but if you’re wondering if you’ll be happier with your partner than on your own, then learning about what is necessary to repairing a relationship can help you better understand what you want and what you’re willing to do to stay with your parnter.

Although rebuilding a relationship after an affair can seem impossible – and it may be – if you and your partner want to stay together and are willing to put in the effort necessary to improving your situation, it may be possible to create a happy and healthy relationship.

Give yourself time to process your emotions due to the affair

What emotions are you feeling? How strongly are you experiencing these emotions – are you being controlled by them and they’re overwhelming, or they’re present but you can listen to and learn from them? Have you been able to interpret your emotions to understand how you’re reacting, or are you still uncovering how your partner’s actions are affecting you?

Whenever someone experiences a lifechanging event or makes a painful discovery, they need to give themselves the opportunity to experience their emotions, first in their full intensity and eventually a less severe and reactive form that can teach them how they really feel about their situation. This is called processing your emotions.

Processing is defined as “a systematic series of actions directed to some end”. Emotions associated with being betrayed by your partner – anger, sadness, confusion, grief – may never completely disappear, but in order to move on, whether you stay with your partner or not, they should eventually fade and not feature in your day-to-day life.

Regardless of what you decide to do, processing your emotions is very important to your mental health; consistently feeling negative emotions is unhealthy and can keep you from feeling fully engaged with your life. Processing emotions when you’re upset is very important, no matter what caused them.

Processing emotions also helps you make decisions you’re more likely to be satisfied with long-term. What you think and feel immediately after learning shocking news doesn’t always reflect what you truly feel or what you want. These initial thoughts could be accurate, but you’re far more likely to be capable of making good decisions if you let the intensity of your feelings fade before reacting.

Processing your emotions doesn’t mean ignoring, suppressing, or minimising what you’re feeling. This keeps you from recognising what you’re feeling, so you can’t do anything to change your situation. It also gives you the job of telling yourself you’re not thinking or feeling something when you are, which is exhausting. Additionally, if you distance yourself from your emotions, you aren’t being honest with yourself about how you feel. Self-honesty is essential while you’re deciding if you want to stay with your partner and while repairing a relationship. By being honest about how your partner’s betrayal affected you, you can have a realistic view of your emotional situation.

You’ll need time to feel angry, guilty, inadequate, or anything else. But emotions aren’t for ruminating on – they’re meant to help you understand what you thought you could expect from a situation but didn’t get. Learning how your partner’s infidelity affected you won’t change your reality, but unpacking your emotional responses can help you understand what you need – as an individual and/or from your partner – so you can begin to heal.

During this time, self-care and self-compassion is incredibly important. Self-care is spending at least 20 minutes per day doing something that’s energising and rewarding. This could be something enjoyable, or something you need to motivate yourself to do but you feel proud of yourself afterwards. Self-care is always important, but while you’re going through a very emotionally challenging ordeal, it’s even more valuable so you can be as mentally healthy as possible.

Practicing self-compassion means talking to yourself the same way you would talk to a friend in your situation. You aren’t abusive, dismissive or unrealistic in your thoughts; instead, you do your best to take a balanced and authentic perspective of what happened and how you should feel. As you process your partner’s actions, your self-talk could easily become cruel or suggest extreme ways of interpreting what happened. Thinking this way often does more harm than good and doesn’t help you accurately understand your emotions. Adopting a kind but honest inner voice can be very beneficial in learning from your emotional reactions.

Although your partner can play a role in helping you process your emotions, much of this work has to be done alone. Your partner will also have to process how they feel now that you know they were unfaithful and think about what they want for the future. If they don’t process their emotions about what they did and what they want, then they won’t be emotionally ready to work with you to improve the relationship.

If you don’t listen to your emotions and ask yourself what they’re telling you, you won’t have an accurate understanding of how your partner’s infidelity truly affected you. This is essential to not only knowing if you want to – or can – stay together, but also being happy as in individual no matter what you decide. Processing emotions after shocking news is always important, so make sure you give yourself the time and space to do this.

Be open to trust your partner

Do you trust your partner? Can you believe them when they tell you where they’re going, what they did when you were apart, or how they feel about you? Are you comfortable being open, honest and emotionally vulnerable? Do you believe your partner respects your emotions and isn’t going to hurt you again?

In order to have a healthy relationship with your partner, you have to be able to trust them.

Trust between partners takes time to build, and when this trust is broken, it takes even more time to rebuild. Like processing your emotions, establishing trust is an important process that can’t be rushed.

You might not trust your partner right now, which is natural – especially if you recently discovered the affair and/or they lied to you many times to keep it hidden. But can you imagine a future where you trust your partner again? This may feel very far off and require measures you haven’t fully thought out yet, but you have to believe that you can trust your partner one day if you’re ever going to have a healthy relationship.

If you’re confident that your partner’s betrayal was too painful and you’ll always be suspicious and emotionally guarded, then chances are high that you can’t repair your relationship. However, it’s possible that you need more time to process what happened and aren’t ready to consider trusting again at this point, but you will be eventually. If you’re committed to fixing the relationship, you can wait and see if you can get to a point where you can imagine trusting your partner again. But if you’ve given yourself what feels like long enough and still can’t trust your partner, you may need to consider leaving because without trust your relationship won’t be healthy.

Because building trust in a partner is an incredibly intimate experience, what you need from your partner will also be very personal. However, some common ways that couples rebuild trust after an affair include:

  • Get an apology. Your partner needs to understand how they hurt you and express remorse for this. Accepting responsibility is necessary for progressing to remorse and a commitment to change and improve. Without your partner recognising how their actions hurt you, you can’t be certain they understand the gravity of the situation and won’t repeat their mistakes.
  • Tell your partner what you need from them to trust they’re telling the truth. Some partners who have been cheated on need access to their partners’ phones, social media accounts, laptops and more before they can trust them. Your partner might not like this idea, but during the early stages of rebuilding a relationship, this should be seen as a reasonable request, as long as you both understand that it has to be temporary.
  • Look for consistency from your partner. There’s only so much your partner can tell you about how can be trusted – they need to prove they’re trustworthy through their actions over time. You also need to see your partner’s actions as evidence they’ve changed. If you can’t and still believe they’re being dishonest, then you may not be able to stay together.

Learning to trust your partner again is essential if you want to rebuild your relationship. You might not be sure when this will happen or what needs to take place, but it has to be a goal you’re working towards. Without trust, you’ll be in an unhealthy relationship that can’t meet your emotional needs and will take a toll on your mental health.

Understand the context of the affair

How much do you already know about the affair? How much do you want to know? Have you heard your partner’s side of the story or are you making assumptions about them and what happened?

Although you may not want to consider your partner’s point of view or hear what could sound like justifications for their behaviour, learning what motivated your partner to cheat is very important since it gives you a more realistic and better-informed perspective of what happened. This is important because when people are left to fill in the blanks themselves, they usually imagine something much worse than reality.

Knowing why your partner engaged in an affair can help you make what for many people is their most important decision before choosing if they want to stay with their partner – whether their partner’s actions are forgivable. Being with someone you haven’t forgiven will harm your mental health and keep you from feeling secure in your relationship.

The majority of people who cheat on their partner do so because they’re not happy. They could feel unsatisfied with the relationship or disappointed with themselves and trying to escape these feelings by being with someone else. There are many, many different reasons someone cheats. However, letting your partner explain why they cheated on you and being open to understanding their perspective is in no way accepting blame or lessening your partner’s responsibility for what they did. In healthy committed relationships, partners need talk to each other when they’re unhappy so then can work on the problem together.

Your partner should be willing to give you as many details as you need about the affair to feel that you understand what happened. But you also need to be aware that at some point, asking for more and more information or getting your partner to retell what you already know isn’t helping and is probably doing more harm than good – you’re likely just keeping the wound open and possibly trying to get answers that will fit your version of events instead of listening. However, not caring why your partner cheated is a strong sign that very little closeness or connection still existed between you and the relationship likely can’t be saved.

Learning your partner’s version of events and what motivated them isn’t condoning, accepting or forgiving their behaviour – it’s getting insight into why they were unfaithful so you can address what you both need to have a healthy relationship and an enjoyable future together. Therefore, it’s an essential step to deciding if you think you can repair the relationship.

Identify what you both want from your relationship

What was your relationship like before the affair? How well did it meet your emotional needs? What were some of the obvious problems and challenges?

Once you’re ready to begin working on your relationship with your partner, you’ll both need to discuss what changes and improvements need to be made so you can be happier than you were before.

This requires accepting that your relationship will need to change. Some people wish they could go back to the way things used to be between them and their partner. But this isn’t a healthy approach since, in at least some ways, the relationship wasn’t meeting both of your emotional needs. That doesn’t mean you’re to blame for your partner’s actions or imply that you’re responsible for their emotional wellbeing – part of being an adult is finding solutions when you’re feeling depressed and unfulfilled. But by examining what worked and what didn’t, you may be able to create a new and better relationship together.

Discovering how you can treat each other better requires clear and honest communication, so take time to make sure you understand each other. It’s easy to think your partner is telling you one thing when they’re actually trying to communicate something different, which makes finding a solution is almost impossible. To avoid misunderstandings, when your partner tells you something, tell them in your own words what you think they just said so they know if you understood, or if they need to explain themselves in another way. Your partner should also repeat back what you tell them so you can correct them if necessary.

Don’t hold back from sharing. This doesn’t mean being unkind in the name of honesty, but carefully discussing potentially difficult topics. You may need to share painful memories or discuss uncomfortable beliefs. By talking about your emotions with your partner, you can better understand how the affair affected you and what you’re thinking and feeling. Infidelity is based on lying, so more lying can only make the situation worse, but it’s possible to be honest while doing what you can to hurt your partner as little as possible.

If communicating and having healthy conflicts is a challenge for you and your partner, which is very common, you may struggle to have these conversations. Although it may seem like even more work, you and your partner could benefit from learning about healthy conflict strategies such as taking breaks, adopting a neutral perspective, and using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ statements.

One you’re ready, ask yourselves and each other questions such as:

  • What did you like about the relationship?
  • Were there things you disliked?
  • Think about some of the things your partner did to make you happy that you would like them to continue doing?
  • How did they disappoint, upset, hurt, or annoy you?
  • What do you wish you could have had?
  • What might have made you happier?

These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself and each other when thinking about how you can improve the relationship. There will be many more that are unique to your personalities, the type of relationship you had, and the type of relationship you want to have.

The thought of challenging yourself to make the relationship better for your unfaithful partner might seem unfair, which is a natural way to feel – your partner is the one who broke the rules but now you both have to work to fix the damage they’ve done. But healthy relationships involve both partners working together to make each other happy. If you refuse to do this, you’re punishing your partner for what they did. They may accept this for a while, but eventually they’ll get tired of being treated badly and will also stop trying to improve the relationship so it will become unhealthy again.

If you stay with your partner but don’t put in the effort to treat them better, you can’t improve your situation and create a healthy fulfilling relationship.

Couples who have stayed together and rebuilt their relationship after the betrayal of an affair have compared their experience to surviving a life-threatening disease – they’re grateful for the new perspective it gave them, even though they wish they hadn’t gone through something so painful and would be happier if it had never happened.

rebuilding your relationship after an affair, affair, should I stay after an affair,

The damage from betrayal in a relationship doesn’t completely go away, but it can lead to positive changes

No one but you knows if you can be happy with a partner who cheated or if leaving is the better option. It might not be possible for you to share a life with your partner after what they’ve done since some damage is too great and can never be repaired.

But couples have rebuilt relationships after the betrayal of an affair. This is only possible if you listen to your emotions, are willing to trust your partner, are honest about what you’re thinking and feeling, and have hard conversations about your relationship.

This is a highly challenging process, and there’s no guarantee that you and your partner can repair your relationship. But learning about your emotions and asking yourself if you can forgive and trust your partner will help you better understand what you want and be confident you made the right decision, whatever that is.

Coming to terms with a betrayal due to an affair is almost always an incredibly painful process. You can’t avoid emotional pain after being hurt by someone you love, but there are ways you can work through the experience and your emotions that will help you realise if you want to stay with your partner or not, and how to have a healthier and more fulfilling relationship if you do stay.

(Visited 51 times, 1 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *