Breaking the trust in a relationship cannot be fixed by confining the problem to the past and moving on. The emotional damage done does not simply disappear because you said sorry. Rather the untrustworthy party must show they clearly understand what their partner has felt and experienced. Without this step what follows will not be undertaken with the seriousness that it deserves.
The person betrayed is likely to be suffering from some or all the following.
Shock and or Depression – They often feel numb and have difficulty function in day to day life. Initially they are unlikely to take action regarding the relationship, but rather they focus on getting insight for what has happened and try to deal with their feelings
Self-Doubt and Shame – Many betrayed partners blame themselves for not having seen what was going on. Due to shame and the risk of judgment they may not talk to anyone about what has happened. This leaves them isolated while dealing with hurt and pain.
Commencing Detective Mode – Betrayed partners often go through their partner’s mobile phone, credit card statements, wallets, and pockets, as well as asking endless questions, in an attempt to understand what has happened.
Symptoms Such as Anger and Mood Swings – Betrayed partners will go on an emotional roller-coaster ride with no obvious reason for the mood swings. The roller-coaster ride is the result of seemingly insignificant things which trigger feelings of hurt, insecurity, and anger.
Seeking Revenge – An anger driven partner may act in ways that they later regret as they seek to hurt the one who hurt them. This can include turning the children against their partner, telling family and other significant people in order to embarrass their partner. Sometimes they resort to verbal and or physical abuse towards their partner.
The offending partner needs to be willing to prove to their partner time and time again that they’re genuinely sorry and work on earning back the trust. Your partner is not going to take what you say, but needs to see consistent changes on your behalf. They will need proof that you’re serious, reliable and safe to love before they’re going to trust you again. Rebuilding trust is about rebuilding your credibility.
As the offending partner you need to
1. Take full responsibility for your actions and choices. This means taking a long, hard look at why you cheated and how you can make sure you never cheat again.
2. Ask your partner what they need, do whatever you can to change the situation and make it better.
3. Give your partner the time and space to vent their feelings. This includes crying, allowing them to ask you questions about the affair and giving truthful answers. All the while, you should stand strong, stay faithful, continue to apologise and reach out to them with compassion and understanding.
4. Accept that sometimes it’s going to feel as if you’re moving two steps forward and three steps back. One day it may seem as if there’s hope and the next you could be sleeping on the couch again. Put a plan in place that will help you stay calm and centered while you navigate through the inevitable obstacles, landmines and setbacks.
5. Be sure that all promises you make are promises you keep. Your words and actions must come from unwavering integrity. Simply put, what you say you’re going to do, you do. No lies. No excuses. No exceptions. Call when you say you’ll call, be home when you say you’ll be home. Make yourself and your agenda an open book.
6. Practice the following daily: Affection, Attention and Appreciation. Show your partner how much you love and appreciate them in big and small ways every day.
The Importance of Full Disclosure
The betrayed partner will want complete disclosure for some or all the following reasons
* To confirm their suspicions that they dismissed in the past
* To determine if and to what extent the cheating partner values their relationship
* To gain a sense of control over what seems to be an out-of-control situation
* To help them determine what they want to do about the relationship
* To find out what else their partner has lied about, as trust is not limited to on area and betrayed partners lose faith in everything about the relationship
If the relationship is to continue, full disclosure all at once shields betrayed partner from the ongoing emotional blows which occur when partial truths revealed over time. It also increases the odds that trust can be rebuilt. An unfaithful spouse who tells the full truth and then continues to be honest about his or her behaviour has a much better chance of eventually regaining the respect of the betrayed partner.
The safest way to handle full disclosure to carefully plan what needs to be disclosed and arrange to do in the presence of a qualified relationship counsellor. As a non-judgmental and impartial person the counsellor can ensure that the disclosure session can be conducted in a controlled manner.
(c) StartPoint Counselling 2015