Betrayal can come in many forms, including adultery, cheating, financial infidelity, emotional cheating, lying about one's past, pathological lying, concealing a child born outside of your relationship, or concealing criminal behavior from your mate. No matter its form, its effect on relationships and the deceived partners is devastating. Can a relationship be repaired after betrayal? Yes, but it takes hard work and intentional actions. Here are the steps to avoid on your journey to putting your relationship back together and building a stronger one.
1. Refusing to talk about or shying away from the issue.
Can you feel the resentment? After trust has been broken, clarity is one significant step in promoting healing. Unfortunately, allowing there to be a proverbial elephant in the relationship stifles the ability of your relationship to heal. In many cases, by the time this type of couple enters the treatment space, the partner who was wronged has been in a state of mental torture with no clarity, mounting hurt, and growing resentment. Talking about the situation will help that partner regain their sense of reality and truth.
2. Not coming up with a concrete plan to increase trust and rebuild the relationship.
The hard truth is that lying, deception, and cheating usually go hand in hand. However, the person who performed the act of unfaithfulness can benefit from recognizing that their word no longer holds value and that their actions will speak the most. So, go to work to build a plan to show your partner that you are ready to give them what they need to heal and make your remorse for the pain and hurt brought to the relationship unmistakable.
3. Maintaining the same behavior or dynamic.
Actions are everything. Saying that you are sorry is not enough. It is essential to show your partner that you are conscious of how your words and actions affect them. Avoiding behavior that can be seen as inappropriate, sneaky, insensitive, or any conduct that can be misconstrued shows that you recognize that the relationship is no longer the same and take your partner's pain and need for respect seriously.
4. Rushing the healing process
We never expect people to walk when their legs are broken. If we allow it to heal on its own, the bone will set incorrectly, causing a more prolonged and painful recovery process. The bone has to be set properly and a splint, cast, or brace placed. We respect that psychical wounds take time and action to heal. Emotional wounds are no different; thus, it is reasonable to expect that such a deep emotional wound will take a long time to heal. When the healing process is rushed, it never truly happens and can become a life sentence of insecurity, complicated grief, and negative emotions.
5. Revenge cheating
What's that saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face? Revenge cheating continues a cycle of bad behavior that irrefutably damages the ability of a relationship to be healthy and regain mutual trust. Hold your partner accountable but be mindful of losing yourself in an attempt to make your pain and anger evident or return hurt to your partner. Your healing is a gift to you, and you are worthy of that.
6. Not sharing the responsibility of soothing, reassuring, empathy for, and compassion towards the betrayed partner.
It is essential for the partner who performed the act of betrayal to hold space for their partner's emotions. Your partner needs your reassurance and for you to turn towards them more than ever. Additionally, the partner who engaged in the act of disloyalty should take the initiative to obtain their own healing. Seeking individual therapy can give you the skills to provide your partner with emotional support while working through your own goals in shifting your behavior and healing any hurt or trauma you may hold.
7. Minimizing the effects and implications of deception
Gas lighting your partner is not a fix. It can be uncomfortable to sit with the consequences of our actions, but if you want your relationship to work, it's worth the investment. Cultivating empathy and humility is essential. It is difficult to see a spouse or partner apologize in a couple's therapy for their inability to get over it, their "oversensitivity," "weakness," or "making such a big deal of it." Broken trust is one of the most painful things a partner can experience. It shakes you to the core and rocks your perception of reality. Allow yourself to respect your feelings while taking action to ensure the genuine healing you deserve whether you leave or stay in the relationship.
8. Not seeking an expert in repairing a relationship after betrayal, dishonesty, or infidelity
Seeking a therapist trained in couple's therapy and repairing relationships after infidelity is vital. This type of therapist will be engaging in continuing education so that they are frequently trained with the most up-to-date information in the field that will give you the best treatment possible and the treatment outcomes you seek.
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Sejginha Williams, LMFT