Has surviving infidelity been a challenge for you lately as a couple? If so, it’s probably hard to imagine that affair recovery is even possible right now.
Despite how you may feel, healing from an affair can and does happen. Past mistakes and regrets don’t have to define your relationship or destroy it any longer.
Many couples who’ve taken the rebuilding process seriously have been surprised to find their relationship becomes even stronger than before the affair.
Does this mean the affair was good? No, it was a relational fracture. But, in time, that fracture can heal even stronger. Just how do you repair a relationship after an affair? Here are some key steps.
Discuss What Infidelity Means to Each of You
It’s possible for two people in a relationship to have different ideas of what constitutes infidelity. So, when a line is crossed, a clear conversation about boundaries hasn’t previously occurred.
Most couples desire there to be at least the boundary of no physical sex with a partner outside of the relationship. Beyond that, things may get a bit hazy.
In his Psychology Today article entitled After Cheating: Restoring Relationship Trust, Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW shares the following about the potential complications of what constitutes unfaithfulness to someone in a relationship in today’s digital age:
“Does looking at porn count as cheating? What about webcam sex? If you play around on hookup apps but never actually hook up in person, are you cheating? If you’re chatting with an old flame on social media, is that a form of infidelity? What about playing virtual-reality sex games?”
Weiss later says the bigger issue than whether or not sex has occurred outside of your committed relationship is whether secrets are being kept.
He goes on to share how he defines cheating in today’s digital age. Weiss would say when you intentionally keep meaningful and intimate secrets from your partner, you’ve crossed the line of infidelity.
Basically, if you’d feel uncomfortable with your partner knowing what you’re doing, that’s a good clue you’re entering the danger zone.
That may mean an emotional or physical affair, but the strong feelings of betrayal can easily exist in either scenario.
The first step is to get on the same page of what constitutes cheating in a relationship. Once you know that, you have the responsibility to be open and honest with each other going forward.
Holding the Line in Your Relationship
Once you know where the line of infidelity stands, you’ll want to do your very best not to cross it again. And if you do, you’ll need to be open about your shortcomings (even if it hurts). Because it’ll hurt way more if the secret is discovered by your partner without you ever admitting it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to disclose every thought or ‘temptation’ you have. Having said that, if a clear line has been crossed, that needs to be discussed with your partner.
Especially for the one who’s had the affair, they’ll have to demonstrate they can be trusted again and be open to accountability. This isn’t automatic and takes time to build back up. That may mean more transparency about:
- Your bank records
- Where you go
- Your social media activity
- What you’re doing online
- Your smartphone habits
- And possibly more
Surviving Infidelity: Counseling Can Help
Once you set clear boundaries and are working to be honest with each other, you still may struggle through the difficulties of past betrayals.
The best way to work through this is to engage in calm and nonjudgmental discussions and to be honest about your private lives. If consistent honesty can’t be achieved over the long haul, it’ll be tough to maintain the trust you need for a thriving relationship to grow again.
Sometimes, despite a couple’s best efforts, they can’t resolve the extreme pain, guilt and betrayal that exists because of an affair. They can struggle with how to forgive infidelity and how to deal with infidelity effectively. This level of difficulty is common and understandable given the extreme breach of trust.
If this is where your relationship is at, Valencia Relationship Center is here to help. We can provide unbiased and professional advice. We can also help to facilitate healthful discussions for you and your partner so you can resolve the struggle as calmly as possible.
Feel free to schedule an appointment with us. At Valencia Relationship Institute, we realize relationships can be challenging at times.
With counseling offices in Burbank/Toluca Lake, CA and Valencia, CA, we’re just a phone call away. No, you don’t have to struggle alone as a couple with affair recovery. We can provide evidence-based ways to help your relationship heal through marriage counseling and couples counseling.