Destiny Magazine – online article: By Joanna Kleovoulou, Clinical Psychologist, Director of PsychMatters Family Therapy Centre Bedfordview
- What factors should you consider before taking him back?Infidelity is one of the most unpleasant experiences that can occur in a relationship as it is a violation of trust and the dedication invested in your partnership. That said, this is a decision only you can make, so sit quietly with yourself and set up a pros and cons list to stay or to leave. If your partner seems to be remorseful and is someone that is willing to work together to gain back the trust that was lost due to his/her actions, then it is worth giving another try. However, it is not healthy for you to be in a relationship where trust is broken repetitively. There are some questions to ask yourself whilst deciding:
What was the reason for your partner’s decision to cheat on you?
- Do you still love your partner?
- Has your partner owned up to the infidelity?
- Do you believe you will be able to forgive your partner?
- Is your partner showing remorse and regret for his/her actions?
- Do you believe that if you choose to stay that you can leave this incident in the past at some point through healing?
- What are signs that the relationship will work?A light at the end of the tunnel may be that both partners take ownership for the space that has been created in the relationship and that the “perpetrator” takes responsibility for the affair without making excuses, defending, or minimizing what was done, showing remorse and attempts to make amends to rebuild trust through being transparent. Make a commitment to comfort and reassure your partner when he/she is triggered by feelings of mistrust.
- What are signs that the relationship will NOT work?If there is a lack of commitment and responsibility in the attempt to rebuild trust on the part of the “perpetrator” and the partner finding it impossible to work on healing the past wounds and getting to a place of forgiveness.
- How much should you know about the cheating/infidelity i.e. what questions should you ask him?If you feel you cannot heal or move forward, it may be more traumatic to get details of the affair as this may trigger more feelings inadequacy and resentment. First consider your own feelings and needs and be gentle with yourself to get through this. Some common questions that the partner who has been cheated on finds themselves asking or wondering about:
What did s/he have that I didn’t? Where did you go and what did you do with him/her? What does he/she look like? Did you speak about me, the kids, or our marriage? Do you love her? How many times were you with her?
Is she married? Where did you meet her?
Surviving infidelity does require obtaining sufficient information from your partner to reassure you s/he wants to save the marriage as well. Honesty, trust and loyalty needs to be regained, so some questions may need to be answered to move towards that. Reassurance will not occur if comparisons are made – this will only leave you feeling more minimised, angry and creates more self-doubt. Give your questions some though before putting them on the table, as this will give you time to reflect whether those questions will create the reassurance you are seeking. Surviving infidelity will be dependent on expanding your communication with each other.
- What are the chances of rebuilding trust for someone who has betrayed you?Generally, the “perpetrator” wants to put all of it behind them whilst the faithful partner needs time to process and make sense of it all. Trust can be rebuilt within a committed relationship, however it may be a long journey. This journey back to healing, is usually about the scars, the remorse shown, and the daily actions of repairing the relationship.
- Remorse is shown and there is a real attempt to work together towards conflict resolution.
- The ties between your partner and the third person have been permanently cut.
- You have both agreed to move forward and not punish each other repetitively.
- Both are committed to strengthening communication and trust in each other.
- Should you decide to stay, what should you avoid doing/saying?The possibility of angry outbursts is highly likely, as there may be pent up emotions. However it is not helpful to explode with rage to your partner as this will terminate any hope for the relationship to be restored. To prevent this, every time discussions and arguments tend to be heated up, end the conversation, take a time out, go to a tranquil spot and breathe. It is not uncommon to now believe that everything your partner does is a lie. However this belief is not helpful as it keeps you stuck as powerless. Begin by making choices together for the betterment of the couple and the family and consider your partner when making decisions that will affect the family.
- How can you move on in a positive way?There is no set of rules on how to create a fresh start, however the decision to do so together is the first step forward. Making commitments as to how you both would like the relationship to manifest, and what daily actions can be done to foster a deep bond and to rekindle what was lost. Through effective communication and the dedication to make it work will set the tone for a positive movement forward together. With the assistance and facilitation of a psychologist and counselling, communication skills and understanding each other will assist in bridging the gap.