Can a relationship recover from infidelity? Yes, but both partners have to be willing to do whatever it takes to work through the issues that led to the affair in the first place. Each needs to learn to forgive, improve communication skills and develop greater emotional intelligence.
Shame, guilt and hurt are big emotional hurdles to get through, but if you have the courage and willingness to address and communicate about everything, it is possible to build a stronger, more loving and committed relationship than ever before,
Take 100% responsibility
Affairs don’t ‘just happen’. It is often the case that the person to have the affair is not the first person to leave the relationship. When you explore the relationship’s history there is usually an unresolved event in the past that created distance between the couple. If they can’t talk about it, the disconnection grows so much that, when circumstances present themselves, the gulf makes it possible for an affair to happen. The relationship can get caught in arguments about who is to blame, but when each takes responsibility for the emotions and behaviour that created the distance in the relationship and learn to communicate and work through differences, things can move on to the next stage: rebuilding trust.
Let go of the dream.
Let go of the old relationship and build a new one from scratch. Most times people go and do this with a new partner, because a relationship can’t move forward if either person is holding on to the past. Holding on to a dream of how things could have been, or the nightmare of how much you have hurt or been hurt, looking backwards with regret or blame will kill off any hope for the future. Old habits and feelings will continue to surface, but consciously focussing on what you want for the relationship and learning how to work together to create it, will help you both move through painful issues.
No Bad Guys.
Guilt eats away at the relationship. The person who feels guilty works hard to regain the respect and trust of their partner, but the guilt means they can’t enjoy any rewards for their ‘good behaviour’. They feel ashamed, unworthy and start to withdraw believing they don't deserve to be forgiven, the injured party is already feeling hurt and insecure and becomes suspicious of the distance between them. If no-one understands what is going on and no effort is made to deal with the underlying emotions and issues, there will be temptation and maybe a repeat of the infidelity - or the relationship flounders and dies a painful death.
Working on the premise that there are no bad guys - even though there may have been bad behaviour - and learning to forgive is a process that takes time and courage. You’ll know when you are through it when there is no longer an emotional charge and the relationship feels lighter – and you may even be able to laugh about it!
We have Relationship Revival coaching programmes for individuals and couples to improve communication skills, rebuild confidence and trust and restore intimacy.