If your partner had an emotional affair, your first decision is whether or not you’ll stay in the relationship. Regardless of how committed you feel to making this work or to avoiding divorce or a breakup, consider the question…
“Is it wise for me to give my partner a second chance?”
When you give yourself permission to consider all of your options, you increase your chances of success. Remaining with a partner who cheated solely for the sake of your kids, because you don’t believe in breaking up or for fear that you won’t make it on your own will set you up for resentment and more pain.
Consciously decide what is smart for you given your specific situation and consider the words and actions of your partner too.
If you do choose to stay with your partner, rebuilding trust is imperative. The good news is there are a lot of really great resources available that can guide you in bringing back healthy trust and connection.
The not-so-good news is that a lot of the advice out there is misleading and, if applied incorrectly, can lead your relationship even deeper into trouble.
Here are 3 commonly suggested trust rebuilding techniques that can erode trust even more if used in certain ways…
#1: Be transparent.
Transparency after an affair can be a powerful because the one who cheated can prove that he or she IS trustable again. Unfortunately, transparency is sometimes used to control or punish.
When you ask for complete openness and access to all of your partner’s personal and business email, phone, financial and other accounts and records, make sure that your motivations are in alignment with rebuilding trust. Be honest with yourself first. Do you mostly want to inconvenience your partner or make him or her jump through your hoops? Are you using transparency to interrogate your partner about any little thing?
The difference is subtle, but it’s there. Create agreements that will establish that you will be using this access in a respectful manner as your partner shows you that he or she has nothing to hide anymore.
After an affair, forgiveness is probably one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself and it benefits your relationship too. Where forgiveness goes wrong is when it’s forced or one of you pretends to forgive when you don’t really feel it. False forgiveness is confusing and can cause even more conflict and distance in your relationship because your words and actions don’t match.
Don’t say that you forgive your partner for cheating until you genuinely feel it. Remind yourself that forgiving doesn’t let your partner off the hook for his or her actions and it doesn’t send the message that you’re suddenly okay with what happened.
Forgiveness is when you decide that you will no longer carry around anger and bitterness about the affair. You acknowledge that, yes your partner betrayed you and you are ready to focus on what’s happening now to create a better future together.
#3: Communicate about the affair.
To simply not talk about your partner’s emotional affair won’t heal the wounds or change what happened. To deny or pretend won’t allow strong trust to rebuild.
But, when you talk about the affair in ways that keep you stuck in the past and overshadow the positive changes your partner is making, the effects can be just as deadly to your relationship. By all means, do communicate with each other about the affair but watch out for traps that hold you and your partner in pain.
Don’t assume to know what made your partner cheat.
Don’t ask for vivid details about the affair that you aren’t ready to hear.
Don’t obsess about what the other man or woman has that you don’t.
Do listen to what your partner literally says.
Do ask questions to help you learn from the past so you don’t repeat it.
Do talk about specific ways you both can make changes.
Do speak your appreciation for the improvements you see.
The best techniques for rebuilding trust are the ones that work for you and your partner. Keep the big picture goal of repairing your connection in mind and watch for what helps you two move closer together again (and what doesn’t). Intentionally do more of what works for you!
Susie and Otto are relationship coaches, authors, speakers and seminar leaders as well as soul-mates, best friends and lovers. Since 1999, Susie and Otto have been sharing their message with men and women all over the globe about how to keep the spark alive in your relationship for as long as you want. Together, Susie and Otto are the authors of “Magic Relationship Words,” “Stop Talking On Eggshells,” “Should You Stay or Should You Go,” “No More Jealousy,” “Red Hot Love Relationships” and many other books, audios and programs. Please visit their website for more expert relationship advice.[wlsp_signup]