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  • Is it Possible to Rebuild Trust After an Affair?

    For many couples, the discovery of a spousal affair is the ultimate betrayal. The sexual partner betrayal trauma does not necessarily decrease the love of either party for the other. Can you mend the relationship when you still love someone but the trust has been significantly damaged? Can marriages be rebuilt after an affair?

    Dr. Janis Spring is a clinical psychologist and author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful and How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To. Through her work, she has found that relationships can become even stronger after such a betrayal, provided the couples take some crucial steps.

    Take Responsibility for the Pain Caused

    Many unfaithful spouses are overcome with guilt and, because of it, urge their partners to put the deed behind them so they can move on and heal. This is a mistake and certainly not fair to the other spouse.

    According to Dr. Spring, the offender must take responsibility and “bear witness” to the pain they have caused rather than defend or deflect their actions. This step is vital before the couple can begin the healing process.

    Avoid Cheap Forgiveness

    Sometimes, to save a marriage, the wronged partner quickly forgives the cheater before they have had a full chance to feel their anger and hurt. Spring calls this “cheap forgiveness” and warns that it can set up a marriage for future infidelities.

    The behavior she has noticed is prevalent among individuals who are more afraid of being alone than staying in an unhealthy relationship with an unfaithful partner. But cheap forgiveness essentially lets the betrayer free of consequences and sends a message that the behavior is acceptable.

    Shared Responsibility

    Both parties share guilt in some situations, even when only one person has strayed. While the unfaithful person must take responsibility, own up to their guilt, and allow their partner to vent, the wronged party must also acknowledge their role. What led to feelings of emotional distance and isolation? Did their behavior cause their spouse to stray?

    Shared responsibility is necessary for healing and true intimacy.

    Let Go

    Once full responsibility is taken and grieving has happened, it is now time for both parties to “let it go” and begin coming back together. A couple cannot rebuild trust if the wronged partner holds onto the resentment and uses it against their spouse in future situations.

    Above all else, Spring advises that rebuilding trust after an affair takes time. Each couple is different. While some may feel closure after six months, others may need a year or year and a half to come together fully. Some couples may find they need the guidance of a therapist to move through their issues. However, the important thing is that both parties remain committed and do the work.

    Please get in touch with me today if you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment. I would be happy to speak with you about how I can help.