Rebuilding Your Relationship after an Affair

Part of the Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce, yet more couples stay married following an affair than get divorced. Rebuilding after an affair requires couples to face the infidelity and the patterns in their relationship in different ways. Keep in mind that time does heal . . . but not on its own. Here are some things to keep in mind when rebuilding after an affair:

  • Agree to be honest and address critical questions. Being open and willing to disclose appropriate details helps to reduce the distress associated with the affair.

  • Respect and accept the pain of the faithful partner. Affairs damage the trust in a relationship. Acknowledging this injury and its impact — including the hurt felt by the non-affair partner — is a crucial step in building trust.

  • The offending partner must show remorse and responsibility. Showing remorse and acknowledging that your partner’s pain matters to you are essential for opening the possibility of healing and renewing trust. Remorse without responsibility is empty remorse and doesn’t build trust.

  • Expect setbacks and return of painful feelings. Healing from an affair means facing memories, triggers, and consequences of the affair together. These triggers, while disruptive, are expected in the early stages of facing an affair.

  • Keep clear boundaries, and avoid circumstances that could increase risk. Rebuilding trust requires proactive steps to close off the affair relationship and to minimize exposure to circumstances and situations that could trigger painful memories.

  • Make meaning of the past and focus on the future. Renewing love and commitment following an affair requires a couple to makes sense of how the affair happened and what that means for the relationship both now and for the future.

  • Recognize that the process of healing from an affair is painful to both partners in different ways. Deciding to rebuild trust requires both partner to face fears, grieve losses, and examine the personal decisions in the relationship.

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Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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