Once infidelity occurs in a relationship, it breaks the foundation of trust that might have been the one of the main reasons the relationship maintained itself. Let’s face it, many marriages will not survive infidelity and there will be an immediate or gradual separation. However, a few decide to work on it and in that case, two situations usually arise:
-The marriage continues as a marriage of convenience for children or fear, never really recovers and is defined by conflict and resentment.
-The couple decide to face the issues that led to infidelity (It is never totally clear cut) and try to build a new foundation of trust and honesty.
Obviously the latter is hard work and takes a super amount of effort by both the couple. It is the “road less travelled”, fraught with risk but not impossible to achieve.
I have been offering online therapy for over 10 years. During that time, I have built up a speciality in many areas of psychology (especially Codependency) and helped many clients move forward. Contact me for a free consultation. I engage fully with my clients to ensure the best possible chance of recovery. I firmly believe that awareness is important but action is the decisive element of recovery. I accompany my clients along that road not only by offering sessions focusing on their issues but as a resource between sessions too.
The unwritten rule about option two above is that the cheated upon sets the agenda for the relationship in terms of whatever retribution is needed. The cheater has to build trust consistently. This is fine but when does the retribution end? If you have been cheated on, you will never forget the pain and hurt associated with it. Forgiveness can only take place when clear evidence of responsibility is taken by the cheater. This means in practical terms a willingness to work on any personal issues that are present, showing patience and realising that it is a process that might not end quickly.
However, there are certain things that the couple can do to ensure the process moves along smoothly. Often, it is the day to day interaction that will build a new foundation while working on the emotional pain of infidelity and its aftermath. If this interaction is with the cheating as an underlying factor, resentment will quickly build. Once it is accepted the couple wish to stay together, the following will ensure the best possible chance to repair the marriage:
– Dealing with emotional pain and broken trust. This must happen if the marriage is to survive. Mostly, this can only be done with a professional therapist but open and honest conversation at any time will help. Setting times to talk about feelings or keeping a journal will help.
– Conflict Resolution: When trying to build again, ineffective conflict resolution can lead to explosion of emotion, resentment and regretful comments which could lead to rage or withdrawal. By dealing with conflict in the right way, open and honest dialogue can be maintained.
– Deposits in the Love Bank: When cheating occurs, the cheater loses all previous deposited credit in the so-called Love Bank. Dr Willard F Harley on his site Marriage Builders, describes it as the following:
“Inside all of us is a Love Bank with accounts in the names of everyone we know. When these people are associated with our good feelings, “love units” are deposited into their accounts, and when they are associated with our bad feelings, love units are withdrawn. We are emotionally attracted to people with positive balances and repulsed by those with negative balances. This is the way our emotions encourage us to be with people who seem to treat us well, and avoid those who seem to hurt us”.
When trying to build a marriage after infidelity, it is important to continue to deposit in the Love Bank. Deposits are anything that brings “good feeling” and positive interaction. This could range from being more understanding, interacting more positively, showing more respect, keeping promises, being consistent through to surprises, gifts and increased physical and emotional connection.