Over a third of Americans say they have been cheated on in a relationship. The issue is serious, and as a relationship progresses to marriage it can rock the bond to its very core. After all, how can you start over in a marriage after infidelity?
As you read on, you will start to understand that such a thing is possible. While it will be a complicated process, learn how to start over in a marriage after infidelity and move forward despite everything that has happened.
Table of Contents
Admit to and Acknowledge the Pain
Before you move forward, you need to take several steps, including processing the pain that both of you might feel. While it might feel strange to acknowledge that the partner who cheated feels hurt, this might well be one of the reasons why they chose to cheat.
Encourage both of you to be open about how you feel. Accept that there might be anger and sadness felt on both sides and express this if you need to. Also try to create a situation where, to help enable conversations, there is no blame presented and people feel safe to talk in honesty.
If you do this, couples can share feelings like shame and guilt knowing they can talk through such things.
While not escalating situations with “blame”, you must make sure people take responsibility for their actions. The unfaithful individual needs to accept that they took actions that led to the infidelity and caused hurt to their partner.
They need to express true remorse and intend to make amends. They should also take steps to ensure they do not repeat the event.
There should never be a situation where they “justify” any infidelity. For example, by blaming marriage problems, or being drunk. If someone chose to drink and became drunk, that was a series of choices they made that led to that situation.
Engage in Open and Honest Communication
While emotions might be high, try to engage in active listening and refrain from going on the defense during any discussion. Use “I” statements when you can, such as “I feel” and “I am” to help prevent the conversation from feeling like a series of attacks. Often, this will help to prevent any conversation from escalating into an argument.
You should also try to be up-front about the expectations each of you has moving forward. Try to set a specific goal or aim for both specific conversations as well as things you should do between discussions.
Learn to Empathize
It may be hard but try to have empathy no matter who you are in a situation. Try to understand how the other person feels, and how the impact of the cheating affects one another’s emotions. As people talk about their understanding of the situation, the other partner should take time to consider that viewpoint.
While this may be more important for the partner who committed infidelity, it does go both ways. This does not mean accepting the cheating, but understanding that shame and guilt can have a real negative impact as well as being a drive to improve. If it looks like these feelings are starting to cause depression or anxiety in either partner, for example, it might be useful to seek out therapy.
Discover the Underlying Issues
There are many different potential causes of infidelity. To improve the situation, you must dig into the root cause behind why it occurred, and what led to it.
Consider the vulnerabilities or weaknesses people have. Think about what caused them in their life and how you might get over them. If you feel you need it, you could talk over such things with a professional to help get to the core of any bad habits you have.
Establish Boundaries Moving Forward
Work with one another to establish clear and realistic boundaries in your life to prevent infidelity moving forward. This should not occur in a way that causes harm but should start to rebuild the relationship and any lost trust over time.
Common examples include not socializing with the person the cheater cheated with, or avoiding them outside of the office. It might include drinking less, or even not at all unless alone with your partner. There could be other steps, and they could either relate directly to the cheating or to the situation that led to it.
Also, talk about any triggers either of you might have. Things that cause one another to act outside of a normal range of behavior and how you might prevent that in the future.
Start to Rebuild Trust
Understand that healing a relationship takes time, and trust will not come back straight away. Trust should build towards giving the cheating partner the freedom to be in situations where they might face challenges. Though, this does not need to occur straight away if it will cause harm.
The unfaithful partner needs to ensure they communicate things that they know might lead to cheating in the future. This could include feelings they have, or patterns of behavior they recognize. They need to have a space to talk about these honestly without guilt so that the couple can act as a team to overcome them.
Reinvent the Relationship
Moving forward, things will not be the same. Having an affair can cause people to grieve the relationship they had before it, and as such you need to accept that it occurred and move forward.
Try to reinvent the relationship. Whether this involves romance, passion, or intimacy, try to create a real new connection. Some partners even organize “meetings” with one another once every week or month to ensure they have space to talk.
Seek Out Professional Help
If you have trouble with any of these steps or need a little extra glue to bond things together, consider looking into marriage counseling. Professionals such as Naya Clinics: Therapy & Marriage Counseling can advise you on what you could do if you need a little help. They have more tools to improve all the above.
Learning How to Start Over in a Marriage After Infidelity
Learning how to start over in a marriage after infidelity is not easy. It can require compromise and difficult emotional investment from all people involved. This is not the only thing that can go wrong in a relationship though.
We provide articles that cover many facets of relationships and can help guide you through some of the toughest times. So, check out our blog and find ways to improve your bond with your partner today.