In my years of coaching couples through everything imaginable, I know there is life after infidelity. Hurt can be healed, forgiveness can be given, hearts can be mended, and yes trust can absolutely be earned again. Couples who have survived infidelity know that there is healing after being cheated on.
How to Rebuild Trust After Infidelity
In This Article:
Accept All of the Emotions
Being cheated on hits differently. It can be such a painful experience, which makes it hard to talk about and process. There are so many emotions that a person will go through in this situation. If you have been cheated on by your spouse, I recommend that you simply pause for just a moment and allow yourself to just feel. Let everything you are feeling actually flow. Don’t try to suppress your emotions, whether they are negative or positive. Experience them for what they are.
I liken the feelings that surface from infidelity to those that we experience when we grieve. It is in a sense the death of the marriage you once knew. Because whether you stay or go, the marriage will have to change as you move forward. The 5 stages of grief can apply to a marriage that is also experiencing a loss of trust. Those 5 stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Couples must pay attention and deal with each stage appropriately before they can move on and prepare to rebuild. The denial phase is pretending that what happened didn’t actually happen. During the anger phase is where the emotions are on high. You might find yourself lashing out and blaming others. Resentment and frustration will also be present during this time. Bargaining is where the “what ifs” start to creep in. You might be trying to take better control of the situation, which feels totally out of your control. It’s such a tricky space because you are still looking to come to terms with why your spouse cheated. Depression is another phase that one might have to experience as well. Acceptance is the last phase and where the true healing can actually start. It means you have accepted what is. In addition, you must also accept everything that you are feeling and welcome your emotions as that is part of the cleansing and rebuilding process for healing after being cheated on.
Tools Needed for the Rebuild
After you have processed all of your emotions it is now time to look at the tools you will need to rebuild the trust in your marriage. The truth is trust was broken. It takes time to begin to believe in your spouse again after they have been unfaithful, but it is possible. The tools you will need in this step are communication, forgiveness, honesty, and accountability. Communication is so necessary during this time. You might feel the urge to keep quiet or it might be too hard to even look at your spouse, but when you’re ready you have to have those tough conversations. You have to be able to share what you’re feeling, what you need, and listen attentively to your spouse as they share information on their infidelity. You will likely have questions and you should ask each one of them and carefully listen for the responses. Forgiveness, though it might not feel possible has to happen in time. You can not move forward until you truly forgive your spouse for their unfaithfulness. Honesty has to also be discussed. This will be a difficult one because it has obviously been missing in your marriage. There has to be an honesty agreement if you plan to move forward. The details of that agreement will be determined by you and your spouse but will highlight what honesty looks like in your marriage, starting now. And finally, accountability goes with the honesty agreement and determines what the consequences will be if anything in your agreement is broken. Using these tools are just the beginning of how you and your spouse can rebuild the trust and begin healing after being cheated on.
Moving Forward Together
It is possible to have an even better marriage after infidelity. You can rebuild the trust and move forward together if you both choose that is what you want. It will require that both partners recommit to the marriage. I recommend reviewing your vows once more and highlighting the ones that need the most attention at the moment. Write down the specific actions you will take to honor those highlighted vows. Then, as a couple, decide whether or not you are both really invested in your marriage. Are you really willing to show up for your marriage and do all that is necessary to make your relationship the best it can be? Are you willing to forgive your spouse and completely trust them again? Once you answer yes to those questions you can start the rebuilding.
I know most couples wonder why marriage has to be so damn challenging at times. Why can’t everyone just always do what they are supposed to do? We wish life could be so easy. The truth is, we married other humans. And humans make mistakes over and over again. They sometimes take the ones they love for granted and they hurt them with the poor choices they make. But we can be so much better if we just put forth the effort. We can be faithful, honest, and committed if we make that choice. Marriages work best when both partners are the best people they can be for one another. And trust can surely be rebuilt through healing after being cheated on.
BMWK, what do you think is needed to rebuild trust after infidelity? Do you think healing after being cheated on can save a marriage?