You or your partner cheated, and you’ve decided to stay together and rebuild the relationship. How do you do that, and what are the potential pitfalls?

Angry and distrustful

The deceived partner is angry, fearful and distrustful. They’re afraid it will happen again. This partner will be inclined to control and monitor the other person. The mobile phone will be confiscated, emails and social media sites will be carefully monitored and their partner won’t be allowed to go out by themselves, or let anyone into the house when they’re at home alone. Some people even install special tracking software on their partner’s computer; software that registers exactly which websites their partner has been visiting. The unfaithful partner often feels guilty. If they choose to rebuild the relationship, they will do anything they can to make up for what they’ve done.

Fear and guilt

Keeping themselves firmly under control out of fear that it will happen again, feeling guilty about what they’ve done and accepting anything the deceived partner wants; it’s all completely understandable. It takes time to heal the wound of infidelity and rebuild trust. One person might try to control the relationship and act like a victim, while the other allows themselves to be controlled out of guilt. Two strategies that can sustain one another for a long time, but don’t offer a long-term solution to the problem, becaise they’re both based on fear and pain.

Choose your own well-being

If you want to rebuild your relationship, you have to choose your own well-being. Don’t play the victim and don’t do anything out of guilt. Don’t – no matter how tough that might be at the start – endlessly blame each other. At a certain point, everything has been said and it won’t do any good to keep repeating yourself. Don’t base your behaviour on what you want to prevent, but on what you want to achieve together. Set positive goals, together. Take a critical look at the ‘blueprint’ of your relationship. How did you relate to one other? What was good about that? What caused the infidelity? What would you like to see changed? Ask your partner what they need and give it to them, without bargaining about it.* Focus on love, communicate and take your time to repair the trust in your relationship.

* See my blog ‘Giving what the other person needs’