For most people in a monogamous relationship, there are few worse feelings than the breaking of trust that comes from being cheated on. Betrayal, jealousy, resentment – finding out that you’ve been cheated on brings with it a whirlwind of emotions.
But whilst infidelity isn’t a pleasant thing to experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship. Rather than breaking up after cheating, over half of married couples choose to heal their relationship and grow from the experience. If you think repairing your relationship is possible for you, you can too.
Here’s a list of the top 5 ways you can repair a relationship after cheating:
1. Acknowledge the issue
Talk about what happened openly with your partner. This might be uncomfortable, but suppressing or ignoring the issue will only breed resentment and further damage the relationship. Regardless of any relationship issues that may have contributed to the infidelity, the person who cheated should be aware that they are in the wrong and be willing to apologise and try to improve the situation.
Cutting off contact with the other man or woman is also necessary to show that the person who has cheated is fully committed to mending the relationship. And remember that any form of abuse by either person in the relationship is never okay.
2. Engage in honest and open communication
According to According to Way Too Social, after a betrayal of trust, it is vital that both people in the relationship establish open and honest channels of communication with one another. This means being willing to express one’s true emotions (it is healthy to release feelings of anger, guilt or hurt), but also speaking fairly with each other, without frequent accusations or blame.
For the person who cheated, this also means taking responsibility for your actions, listening to and supporting your partner and their needs, and sticking to any promises made. This may mean learning to become more honest, as deceptiveness may be a learned behaviour that needs to be addressed.
3. Get to the root cause of the issue
Consider what the reason was for the cheating behaviour. Were one or more people in the relationship dissatisfied with some element of the relationship? The two most common reasons why people cheat (which still doesn’t make it okay) are sexual dissatisfaction and a lack of emotional satisfaction. By dealing with the root cause of the issue, you may be able to make your relationship stronger than it was previously and reduce the likelihood of infidelity reoccurring.
4. Give the relationship time
After infidelity, it may take some time before a relationship returns to normal – possibly between 1-3 years. Give your partner time to grieve rather than insisting that they put the past in the past.
In the meantime, try to focus on staying present. By dwelling on the past, you are focusing on something that is no longer occurring, when in reality, your partner is actively choosing to be with and support you. By focusing on the past or worrying about an imagined future, you could miss positive experiences and opportunities for growth and recovery that are happening in the now. Focusing on the present is also calming and grounding.
Forgiving someone who cheated on you may at first feel impossible. And while feeling hurt is totally warranted, harbouring feelings of bitterness for too long is not only unhelpful, but unhealthy. First and foremost, forgive the person for your own sake. You deserve to feel at peace.
This doesn’t mean that you condone the cheating or will forget about it. It’s about accepting the reality of what has happened, and making a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment. Not only is not forgiving mentally tiring, but it also hinders you from trusting people again in the future. One person’s actions do not represent the actions of the majority, and you deserve to be treated with respect and honesty.
If you feel like you need some extra help or just need someone to chat to, consider seeing a licenced relationship counsellor or psychologist. There are many supportive and helpful services available to guide you through this challenging time and get back on track with your life and relationship. Give your partner time and space to recover, but be sure to check in with them and support them where necessary. Try to focus on what you love and are grateful for about your partner, and view the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. In time, you will heal.