Infidelity can often mean the end of a relationship. At the very least, it creates a vacuum of trust and security in a relationship. If you and your partner are recovering after cheating, it might bring some comfort to know that research shows relationships and partners can heal from the trauma of cheating.
Below, we unpack the five rituals of recovering from cheating as described by researchers Jon L. Winek and Patricia A.. Craven:
1. Knowing the Details
Clear, open, and two-way communication is essential for repairing a relationship after cheating. It’s important that a safe space is maintained and that the lines of communication are kept open. This includes allowing the person who was cheated on to ask any and all questions about the affair, which allows that partner to see the bigger picture. What led up to the adultery? Where are the breakdowns in the relationship that contributed to the situation? When, where, how long did the affair occur?
Similarly, it also includes allowing space for the person who cheated, to be honest about their feelings and needs about the committed relationship with their partner.
2. Releasing the Anger
This doesn’t mean just letting go of the anger or denying its presence. It means leaning into the feelings of anger, sitting with it, and listening to its message. It means communicating that anger to the other partner in a healthy way. This goes for both partners – either person should be allowed the space to air anger, grievances, and resentments. It’s ok to have anger and resentment about the relationship, and it’s certainly ok to communicate that.
3. Showing Commitment
Again, this goes for both parties. It’s normal and natural for both partners to question their commitment to the relationship during this time. To repair the relationship, both parties must dig deep to determine whether they are fully committed to repairing the situation. This is a great time for each partner to figure out what they need from the other to remain committed to the relationship, as well as what commitment looks like to them. Ideally, both parties will then work to show commitment through the parameters defined by both partners.
4. Rebuilding Trust
Rebuilding trust takes time, and as author Sheri Stritof mentions, requires the following:
- Decide to forgive or to be forgiven
- Be open to self-growth and self-improvement
- Be aware of deepest feelings and communicate them openly, honestly, and authentically
- Want it to work out
5. Rebuilding the Relationship
Once both partners have worked toward rebuilding trust, both partners must show up in the relationship as if it were a completely new one. It is unlikely that the relationship will return to what it once was, but with time, effort, and commitment, it’s possible to rebuild the relationship to one that’s even stronger.
If you and your partner are struggling with recovering after cheating, a relationship coach may be able to help. Learn more.