In last week’s post to this site, we discussed seven ways you can continue to break your betrayed partner’s heart after he or she has learned about your infidelity. Those no-nos are as follows:
- Continued cheating
- Continued secrets and lies
- Blaming others for your behavior
- Apologizing and expecting immediate forgiveness
- Trying to buy forgiveness
- Using aggression or threats to control your partner or your relationship
- Trying to calm your partner down
This week we’re looking at the flip side of this list – things you can do to rebuild trust and intimate connection with your significant other.
- Develop Empathy. The single biggest you can take toward repairing your broken relationship involves empathy. This means you need to find a way to understand and share the feelings of your partner. Even though emotional empathy does not come easily for most cheaters and addict, it can be developed with practice. That said, learning to decipher another person’s thoughts and feelings is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to listen closely to your partner at all times, and you may need to say things like, “I sense that you’re feeling some anxiety right now. Is that correct? And if it is, can you explain what you’re anxious about? I really want to understand what you’re feeling.”
- Learn to Disagree in Healthy and Productive Ways. Disagreements are inevitable, even in the best relationships. And that’s actually a good thing because arguments can evolve into deeper relationship intimacy. Plus, the desire to argue is a strong indication that your relationship is worth saving. Think about it: Do you argue with people you don’t care about over topics you don’t care about? Probably not. The trick, of course, is learning to resolve these conflicts healthfully, in ways that strengthen rather than diminish your relationship, which can be very difficult after trust is damaged by cheating. We recommend that you and your partner try to fight with the problem rather than each other. For more guidelines on healthy conflict resolution, click this link.
- Instead of Saying You Care, Show It. After your partner learns about your cheating, it’s nice that you can say you’re sorry and you really care about him/her. But that’s not enough to fix things. You need to bolster your apology and statement of love with actions. Remember the little things that are important to your partner. Keep all of your commitments with your partner. Do chores that your partner does not like (and don’t ask for thanks). Invite your partner to spend fun time with you doing activities you both enjoy. Etc.
- Be Rigorously Honest at All Times in All Aspects of Life. You are going to be in the doghouse until you rebuild relationship trust. Period. And this is not something that just automatically happens when you stop cheating and come clean about your past behaviors. You need to be honest with everyone you encounter, keep your commitments, and be patient. It will likely be several months before your betrayed partner begins to trust you even a little, and it might be a year or more before the trust level starts to approach normal. The good news is that one day you’ll wake up and realize your partner hasn’t grilled you about anything in weeks. When that happens, it’s an awesome feeling, but you should absolutely not expect that to happen overnight.
For more information about repairing relationships after infidelity, read Out of the Doghouse by Dr. Robert Weiss. For residential treatment related to chronic infidelity and/or sexual addiction, click here. For free online help with these issues visit our affiliated website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com.