Is it possible to have a great relationship after infidelity? Is it possible to have any relationship at all after a partner cheats?
Relationship expert Esther Perel says, “Yes, but for as long as both people accept their previous relationship as over and for as long as they fully commit together to begin a new one.”
The Grieving Period
Grieving the loss of the previous relationship is the most important step in recovering from infidelity. Our dreams of what our relationship was and could be are gone, trashed, destroyed.
We must feel the shock of what happened, the anger (and perhaps the rage) we might naturally feel, along with the deep sadness such an event might bring up in us. Infidelity is the near or complete destruction of any and every sense of safety and trust we had built in our relationship.
If we let this sink in, we can find a terribly unpleasant yet healthy sense of disillusionment in what happened. A betrayal can hurt and shock us so deeply that we might be open to the fact that there are no guarantees in life.
Lean In To the Unknown
Life is inherently filled with the unknown. What is here today might not be here tomorrow. If we let this reality of life in deeply enough, we might find a sense of safety that is much deeper than whether or not our partner ever cheats on us.
Let’s get back to our couple.
Now that they have accepted the end of their previous relationship, they can begin a new one. They need to establish and keep establishing relational safety and trust. This trust must become so strong that true healing of what happened can be a real possibility.
Establishing Trust After Infidelity
The partner who cheated has the bigger responsibility here. They must be committed to looking within with a skilled guide/ psychotherapist and find why they cheated. What was the pain that pushed them in that direction? Why did they think this was the only way to deal with their pain? Why did they not seek support instead of betraying their partner?
The partner who betrayed has a lot of inner work to do. A lot. Are they truly committed to it? This is a question that is of huge importance. It would be much easier to end things and move on to different relationships with other people. Yet, if we are choosing to stay, we must be committed to real change.
The betrayed partner too can benefit from the beginning of this new relationship. They too can dig deep and look at everything that wasn’t working for them in their relationship. The betrayal was definitely not the fault of the betrayed partner, yet both people are responsible for creating a less-than-amazing relationship.
Each person needs to ask themselves:
What can I do differently now?
How did I betray myself and held my truth back in the past?
Why do I have a hard time expressing myself to my partner?
In what ways and when do I not show up and protect my partner?
How am I not living my life fully, where am I hiding from life?
There is an opportunity here for real transformation both individually and together.
Let’s not miss this opportunity.