by Todd Creager
How can you rebuild trust in your marriage after your partner has had an affair? I have talked about this issue before but it is such a frequent question, I thought it would be worth writing about again. Having an affair is very destructive for relationships. Surviving infidelity is hard, some marriages won’t make it.
However, I have helped many couples through this crisis and they actually had a better relationship than before. That is not to say that having an affair is a good thing, or that it’s easy to rebuild trust in your marriage once the trust has been broken; it is a difficult and actually unnecessary way to learn and grow and if partners are smart, they will get help as or before one of the partners is on the verge of crossing the line.
Affairs don’t happen in a vacuum. People come into marriages with certain role models, belief systems and behavioral patterns; some of which make them a higher risk to have affairs or lower risks.
For example, if you are a man whose father had affairs and was distant from your mother, you are more likely to go that route when the inevitable challenges of committed relationship emerge. (If that is the case, I recommend a preemptive strike- get into marriage or pre-marital therapy with a skilled clinician who can help you develop the tools and emotional muscle to manage emotional pain more constructively).
So there is the past. Then there is the current relationship. It’s far easier to build trust in the first place than to rebuild trust in your marriage after what one partner surely experiences as a betrayal of trust.
Before You Can Rebuild Trust In Your Marriage – You Have To Know How You Got Here:
Couples begin to disconnect with each other due to factors such as the following:
1) Getting so busy with kids, etc that they stop being lovers.
2) Not knowing the importance of keeping the relationship alive and passionate; i.e.- interpersonal laziness
3) Unresolved pain; lack communication skills to connect through disappointment, frustration, fear, anger, etc.
4) One or both partners feeling insignificant, not feeling affirmed by the other
So how do you trust your partner after he/she has had an affair? Is your partner developing more awareness about the meaning or purpose of the affair? Is he (I’ll use the masculine pronoun for convenience) interested in learning how his role models (especially his father) dealt with intimacy? Is he willing to grow beyond that?
Does He Or She WANT To Rebuild Trust In Your Marriage?
Are the two of you making sincere attempts to carve out couple time? Is your partner going from inter-personally lazy to inter-personally creative; in other words- serious about finding out about your needs and meeting them as well as sharing his needs with you? Are you getting help from a competent therapist to help you communicate your emotions more constructively? Is your partner learning new ways of feeling affirmed or at least being honest with you about his negative feelings?
If the answers to these questions are no, there is no real reasons to trust your partner more. To rebuild trust in your marriage requires these steps. However, if the answers to most if not all are yes- there is reason to trust.
There is risk in all relationships. You cannot wait for a personal guarantee from your partner in order to trust. The best you can do is to assess if your partner is becoming a better risk! Healing and learning through the crisis of an extramarital relationship can be challenging but also a very exciting and rewarding experience. When the underlying emotional reasons for the affair are discovered and alternative, healthier solutions are practiced, the chance of a repeated incident goes down. Surviving infidelity is possible; I have seen success in this kind of situation happen with clients in my office many, many times.
From Sarah: Todd Creager is an accomplished Speaker, Therapist, Consultant and Author. He has helped to save so many relationships on the verge. You can find much more at The Todd Creager Center for Successful Relationships and learn how you can rebuild trust in your marriage no matter what’s happened before now.