How to Rebuild a Relationship After They Decide to Cheat

E.B. Johnson

When one partner decides to cheat, it can leave the other totally destroyed. We put a lot into our relationships, and when that commitment is violated, our trust is violated with it. Have you and your partner or spouse hit the dreaded infidelity patch? Are you struggling to move on and forgive one another? These are some of the best ways to rebuild a broken relationship after your partner decides to cheat.

How to rebuild a broken relationship after they decide to cheat.

If you and your partner have committed to saving your relationship, then you’re going to have to get serious about getting things back on track. Infidelity changes our partnerships forever, and not in the best ways. Getting things back to a place of love and positivity is going to take energy, effort, and major time demands from both partners — no excuses.

Get your bearings together

Before anyone can improve their relationship after infidelity, they have to first take time to process how they feel. Cheating is a death in a way. It kills the way you see your partner, and it kills your understanding of your relationship, too.

The partner who cheats changes the landscape of their partnership forever. Neither of you can move forward until you get your bearings together and give yourselves some time and space to process.

Take a break. Get some space. Take a holiday on your own. Go stay with friends or family. Do whatever needs to be done for you to process this first wave of grief and pain that you’re in.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel; set a timer and wallow. On the other side, come out with a clear picture of how you want to move forward with this person you’re still committed to.

Start by focusing on fun

Infidelity is a betrayal like few others. It hurts in places you didn’t know it could hurt, and it teaches you to be insecure and doubtful about your place in the relationship. That only gets rebuilt through conscious action over time, but there is another way to help us (as a couple) soothe some of our immediate hurts.

You and your partner need to get to space where you can, superficially, focus on creating some fun memories again. Heavy stuff is going to be processed in the coming weeks and finding a way to laugh is going to be a major helpmeet.

Once you’ve had some time to get over the initial wave of grief and upset, break the routine and get out of the house to do something fun together. Begin rebuilding the fun and exciting memories that you have, and take a little pressure off of yourselves.

Hard at first, what may appear to be a relatively useless approach can actually get you and partner in the right headspace to come to the table ready to work.

Lean into trust building

Face it. Your trust was totally annihilated the minute your partner decided to stray outside of the relationship. You don’t trust them at all now — not when they leave the house, not when they answer a phone call. None of it.

Getting things back won’t happen without re-aligning this central sense of trust. It can’t. There will be too much resentment and too much conflict.

You and your partner have to work every single day to rebuild your trust. Show up for one another. Talk about your feelings. Reassure one another through consistent action, rather than lip service alone. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be where you say you’re going to be.

Find better ways to commune

Communication is a must in the relationship rocked by infidelity. You and your partner or spouse are going to have to talk. A lot. A lot more than you have ever talked before, and probably a lot more than you ever thought you would have to.

That’s because we’re human, and humans are social creatures. We need that social connection in order to make sense of our feelings and behaviors, as well as the feelings and behaviors of others.

Serious dialogue must take place. You’re going to have a series of conversations about what happened and why. Then you’re going to have to talk about what’s going to come next and how you’re going to get there.

There’s no avoiding these hard conversations. Period. So delaying and avoiding is wasting time and energy. Whether you work it out or not, talking is going to happen. So get it out of the way and create new systems that allow you to communicate more openly and earnestly.

Be honest (inside and out)

Even after all the hard work and all the change, you may find that you’re still not ready to let go of the hurt your partner inflicted on you. And that’s okay. Sometimes the betrayal runs too deep. What’s important is the honesty we decide to show in this moment.

Are you going to hang on to something and someone you no longer trust? Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, prepared for the next threat?

Be honest (inside and out) about how you’re feeling. Tell your partner what’s going on in your mind. Not all partnerships have what it takes to overcome the major betrayal and heart-shattering bomb that is infidelity. If that’s you, put your hand up and figure out what’s best for both of you.

Putting it all together…

Rebuilding our love after infidelity is hard, but it can be worth it. Some relationships come back stronger than ever, with two partners who are reaffirmed and recommitted to the life that they’re building together. But it takes a lot of deep work and investment to get there.

If you and your partner have hit a major betrayal like that, you’re going to have to do the hard work, too. That means both partners getting a grip and getting back on the same page.

You must rediscover your trust, your communication patterns, and even your longing for one another. It’s a hard thing to navigate. All the same, it’s the only way we can really rebuild and come back to our partners whole and ready to work.

Not ready to let go? That’s okay. Work as a team to rebuild trust and find your feet in the relationship again. Tomorrow is another day to make it happen. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, take their hand…and leap.

Brown, E. (2013). Patterns Of Infidelity And Their Treatment. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

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