Congratulations! You made the hardest decision yet, you’ve decided you want to try to work through this affair, stay together and rebuild trust in your relationship. This can be difficult when most of society advocates for a split. For many couples, after an affair, the only option seems to be to throw in the towel.
However, at Cycles Couples Counseling, we help many couples navigate the vulnerable journey to security. This includes reaching to your partner for your needs and giving reassurance to rebuild trust.
Trust: The Key to Affair Repair
After an affair, not only are you grieving the loss of monogamy, you’re also grieving the loss of trust. You had a picture in your head of how this was supposed to go. This was your person, your rock.
If they lied to pull this off, what else are they lying about? It’s a slippery slope.
Affairs can be earth-shattering for partners, as it changes their views of you and also their views of the world around them. Suddenly, their world is unsafe and questionable. This is one of the most vulnerable times.
At Cycles Couples Counseling, we work to help you rebuild trust and secure the foundation you had in your relationship before the infidelity. And in most cases, create a better one.
What To Expect
After an affair, it’s hard to know where to start. It can seem like everything has been flipped on its head.
How do we pick up these pieces?
She’s always accusing me! He’s always defensive.
Will it ever go back to the way it was?
Honestly, hopefully not!
If your marriage sustained an affair, chances are there were some dynamics that made the relationship fertile grounds for infidelity. It’s your job now to change that, together.
Building trust requires two things: reliability and consistency.
Right now, you don’t have the benefit of the doubt from your partner. A healthy response to trauma is to be sensitive to cues that you will get hurt again. It’d be foolish for you not to recognize if you’re in the same situation again. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior.
It’s likely almost any relational connection with your partner could possibly trigger their security system into thinking it’s happening again. This is normal! Remember, the same cues that told them things were okay happened when you were unfaithful. This is an expected outcome.
How do I rebuild trust after I cheated?
We understand. This feels repetitive and maybe even like a broken record. This can seem frustrating.
If I didn’t love you why would I still be here?
Am I ever going to live this down?
Won’t you just believe me the first time?
Rather than becoming overwhelmed or discouraged, think of each of these triggers as a bonus round to gain security points. Every time your partner gets worried and starts to freak out is an opportunity for you to build trust.
Can you comfort her when she’s crying?
Will you reassure him when he’s insecure?
Are you able to sit with their anger and not walk out or fight back?
Honestly, it’s easier if it’s repetitive. You responded to it before, just do it again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Each of these interactions is building stability. It’s a chance for you to show them, “I care and I’m here now.” Through repetition, you can begin to re-associate your partner with comfort and safety. It’s crucial to reverse this trauma conditioning and repair your bond.
This is how you rebuild trust in a relationship.
The Shame Trap of Repetitive Conversations
At Cycles Couples Counseling, we expect these are not one-time conversations. In fact, we predict and actually advise that they be frequent to rebuild trust.
For those who had the affair, this can sometimes feel shaming. It may seem that your partner won’t just let it go, like they’re rubbing your face in it. Unfortunately, these bad actions can be internalized and help to create a negative self-view.
If they keep asking, maybe I ruined this forever. I’m awful.
I’ve told them so many times and they don’t believe me. I’m just not trustworthy.
I suck at making them feel better. I’m a bad partner.
These repetitive conversations can also feel shaming for those who need the reassurance. It may seem needy or weak to require so much feedback and comforting. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take a toll on your self-esteem.
I wish I could just get over it.
I feel so stupid that I need to keep checking-in.
Maybe it’s just me.
It’s normal. You’re normal.
Needing and giving reassurance is a normal part of rebuilding trust. The repetition of these reaches says nothing about either of your character. In fact, if it feels like it keeps coming up in conversation, this means both of you are being honest and expressing fears and vulnerability.
This is the way to security.
At Cycles Couples Counseling, we can help you and your partner feel comfortable with these vulnerable conversations and rebuild your trust. We know you want to feel secure again. Schedule an appointment and let’s do something different.