Can You Heal a Relationship After Infidelity?

Posted on June 20th, 2023
A woman takes off her wedding ring

Infidelity is one of the most common causes of divorce. Cheating with someone outside of the marriage is probably one of the most clear-cut boundaries that many couples have and yet, it seems to be crossed repeatedly.

So, is it possible to heal a relationship after someone has been unfaithful? Can a couple find their way back to each other when there’s been this kind of breach of trust? The truth is that it completely depends on the individual circumstances and wishes of the couple.

Some couples will do everything they can to fix the relationship and get to the bottom of the circumstances that lead to infidelity. In contrast, others simply might find that they don’t want to do the work and would rather go their separate ways.

However, there are definitely ways in which couples can heal their relationship after infidelity.

Working through an affair is incredibly tough, and it will take tremendous vulnerability and energy from both partners to repair the trust that has been broken.

These are some practical things couples can do to get their relationship back on track after someone has cheated.

Get couples therapy or do a recovery program

Trust is the biggest issue when it comes to infidelity; as a core component of any relationship, it’s essential to regain. If both individuals are committed to healing the relationship, or at least giving it a go, then seeing a couple’s therapist or doing a recovery program together is the best place to start.

While individual counselling is always good to keep up with, when it comes to an issue like cheating, it’s important for both partners to share their thoughts and feelings. It might seem counterintuitive for the spouse who cheated to talk about the affair in front of the cheated-on partner, but it’s a big part of learning to confide in each other again and being transparent. It’s important for the spouse that has been hurt to hear how their partner is choosing their marriage over the affair.

Recognize that ‘the truth’ could take a while to come out

The partner who has had an affair is unlikely to come forward and tell the whole story initially. This could be a form of self-preservation, guilt or wanting to protect their partner from further hurt.

The person cheated on will want the whole story to come out as soon as possible, but it’s important to recognize that this might happen slowly, over time. The partner who has cheated is going to be scared to tell the whole story and will fear their partner’s reaction.

While it could be possible to view this delay as just yet more deceit on behalf of the one partner, it’s vital to keep in mind that it’s going to be difficult for the unfaithful partner to work through their indiscretions out loud.

A therapist is needed to help the couple navigate this tightrope to undo the tangle of defensiveness and shame of the unfaithful partner and the hurt, rage and sadness of the cheated-on partner.

The ‘problems’ in the relationship aren’t at fault, but there will need to be changes

Don’t get me wrong, the person who cheated is 100% responsible for looking outside of their marriage to get their needs met. However, affairs happen in different contexts of a marriage.

Both partners have to recognize that there were clearly some problems within the relationship that need to be changed in order to move on to a fresh, enlivened relationship, which both partners have recommitted to.

If the partner who cheated insists that the issues in the marriage are the only thing to blame, or the cheated-on partner insists that the marriage was perfect and there’s nothing to change, then they are going to struggle to move on.

It’s essential to recognize what needs weren’t being met while still acknowledging the fault of the unfaithful partner. Keep these two things separate. Acknowledge and work on the parts of the relationship that were not necessarily positive, but don’t confuse these with what caused the cheater to cheat – they are fully responsible for their own actions.

Recognize that both partners need trust

It’s easy to see how the partner who has been cheated on needs to do some work on trusting their partner again. However, it’s just as important for the unfaithful partner to feel like they can be trusted.

The last thing the unfaithful partner wants is for their partner to leave them 10 years down the line after admitting that they never forgave or trusted them again. Or a partner who doesn’t admit to not trusting them but makes it obvious through passive-aggressive behavior.

The partner who was cheated on needs to give their partner reassurance that they trust them when they go out, or tell them that they sometimes worry about things but that they realized they were being silly, etc.

Both partners need to see and understand that their partner is on board with the new commitment in the relationship and that this recommitment outshines the indiscretion that came before.

Take it slow

You have to realize that couples cannot recover from an affair overnight. The healing process after infidelity is the same as other types of grief – it will come in waves. One day you’ll look back and it will seem like the affair happened forever ago, and you’ll feel completely healed. But the very next day, either of you could be triggered by something and emotions will feel very raw again.

You need to let the healing process take the time needed while you learn new conflict resolution skills, rebuild trust, and rekindle the intimate physical part of your marriage.

Join The Naked Infidelity Program

At Naked Recovery, we have a program specifically designed for those that are struggling to get over infidelity. Whether you are trying to mend your relationship after infidelity or you’re looking to rediscover your self-worth and confidence after leaving a cheating spouse, the Naked Infidelity Program is here to help you recover from your infidelity trauma.

Contact us to learn more about the program and how we can help you.

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