How to help your relationship recover after an affair: for the unfaithful spouse

How to help your relationship recover after an affair: for the unfaithful spouse

The most important aspect of any intimate relationship is trust. When you’ve agreed to be exclusive, intimate partners, there are assumptions that govern that relationship.

Two of the most common assumptions are that you won’t have sex with other people, and you won’t be emotionally intimate–giving and receiving emotional support and comfort—with other people the same way you are with your exclusive partner.

Also, when you cheat on your partner, you lie by omission as well as commission. In other words, you may lie, but you may also leave things unsaid. Trust is what’s lost and trust is what has to be rebuilt.

1) Secrecy has undermined the relationship, so tell the truth.

The relationship will be better off in the long run when you reveal the full extent of the situation up front.

The slow revealing of one aspect after another, one thing at a time, amounts to repeated hits on an already shaky or non-existent foundation of trust.

2) Be willing to take the heat.

If you want to repair the relationship, you will need to be understanding and accepting of your partner’s anger, and of their fears.

When they are angry, validate that. You can say things like “Yes, you have a right to be angry. It’s OK to be angry. I get it.”

(Note: NEVER to follow your validating statements with a but. It is important to discuss all aspects of what happened, however, when your partner is hurting and angry they will be unable to take in any new information.)

3) Be supportive.

Whenever your partner expresses anxiety, or acts anxious, it’s helpful to affirm for them that it’s OK and even to be expected to feel this way. Anyone who has been betrayed is going to feel anxious when taking the risk to trust again.

You can pause, hold their hand, and say something like: “I’m guessing you’re feeling worried right now. It makes sense that you would be anxious, given what we’ve been through.”

3) End all contact with your affair partner.

It might go without saying but I’ll say it just to be sure: end all contact with your affair partner. If they reach out to you, be transparent about it immediately. The issue at play is trust, and transparency fosters trust.

4) Recommit in word and deed

Most importantly of all, rededicate yourself to your relationship. Like a plant that has been through a drought, it will needs lots of water and other TLC to recover.

Words are mostly meaningless. Show your partner you’re willing to do what it takes, whether that means attending couples counseling or spending more time with family.

Repairing a ruptured relationship can be a very delicate process that takes time and care. Having a third party support you—just like you would ask for help from a doctor to repair a broken leg—can make all the difference in the outcome.

You can contact us at Compassionate Support for Stressful Times for help. Call 613-868-9642 or email info@compassionatesupport.ca

About Shulamit Ber Levtov

For over 17 years Shulamit has helped women and men transform the effects of stress and trauma. She has logged thousands of hours of 1-to-1 and group work with hundreds of clients in a variety of public and private settings. She also speaks and facilitates classes and trainings locally, internationally and online. Shulamit is the owner and clinical director of Kemptville's holistic stress and trauma clinic, the Kemptville Stress Relief Centre. Shulamit holds a Masters in Counselling and Spirituality, is a registered social worker and a certified Kripalu Yoga teacher. She also has the distinction of being the third person in the world to be dually certified as a trainer in both Nonviolent Communication and Focusing. To contact Shulamit call 613-868-9642 or email info@compassionatesupport.ca .