Looking past your partner’s infidelity is probably one of the biggest challenges you can face in your marriage. But if you do decide to give your marriage another go, take note of these 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity to ensure that you never have to go through the same pain again.
Whenever a man or woman strays, there is always a dilemma as to what one should do after infidelity – divorce or stay on? It is certainly not easy to build trust again but it is not easy to walk out either. Many couples decide to forgive, forget, and move on for societal, financial, or emotional reasons. Even if it feels awful.
The real challenge starts thereafter. It is almost like beginning a new relationship, albeit with caution and the baggage of hurt and mistrust. Can such marriages get a shot at happiness? For sure, yes! But, building trust after cheating takes time and effort. To make the path easier, here are 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity nearly destroys the foundation of your marriage. Hopefully, these will help in your stages of healing after infidelity.
10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity
“Three years ago, when I told Janine about the affair I was having, she didn’t want to hear anything I had to say, and immediately wanted to walk out. Initially, she was so shell-shocked that the only communication she had with me would be hurling abuses and divorce papers my way,” Jon, a 34-year-old architect, told us.
“I had no idea how to help my wife heal after I cheated. Once a month of separation had passed, she realized she was not averse to having a conversation with me again. One emotional conversation led to another, and just like that, the stages of reconciliation after an affair began unfolding.
“She suggested couples counseling, trust exercises and putting more effort into the relationship. She hated me for a considerable amount of time, but I could see that she wanted to try. I’ll admit, things still are a bit different, but I can honestly say the love is back,” he adds.
A 2021 survey found that couples in 24% of marriages that reported cheating stayed together. In the throes of heartbreak, reconciling after cheating may seem like an impossible task. Trust, once shattered, may look like it’s never going to come back again. But as the stats show us, the question, “Is it possible to reconcile after cheating?”, can often yield a favorable answer.
Let’s be clear about one thing. It takes time, effort and a lot of patience for a relationship to attain some semblance of normalcy in the wake of infidelity. Even then, your equation may never go back to the way it was in the pre-affair days. Therefore, when you slowly begin to rebuild a life in the aftermath of cheating, do it with an awareness of the most common mistakes couples make after their trust has been betrayed beyond belief.
Make sure you understand that trust isn’t going to be established in a day or a week and that some boundaries to set after cheating may define how you move past it. Try to avoid the following 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity. Hopefully, you will get to move past the cheating; or if not, find some peace of mind and be able to move on.
Related Reading: 11 Things You Didn’t Know Amount To Cheating In A Relationship
1. Taking extreme decisions
Affairs and stress go hand in hand. So when you discover you have been cheated upon, it is natural to go through extreme feelings. You might be tempted to act impulsively, like serving a divorce notice or having an affair yourself or throwing him or her out of the house. Take a deep breath when such thoughts consume you.
When you reconcile, your reactions to the entire episode can come to haunt you. So even if you get back together, do not make any quick decisions regarding any aspect – your children, home or money. Give yourself and your relationship time to heal and remember there are several stages of healing after infidelity.
Rose and Stanley were trying to work through a fractured relationship after Rose had an affair with a coworker. Unable to cope with the infidelity pain, Stanley spoke to a lawyer one weekend and had divorce papers served soon after. The couple has two kids, and nothing had been discussed or spoken of. The situation blew up into a huge mess and Stanley regretted his decision later.
Of the 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity, perhaps this one might be the most difficult to put a lid on. However, any quick decision taken by you or your partner can have repercussions. Give each other some breathing space until you can gauge your feelings correctly and objectively. When an affair comes to light, it’s bound to bring with it a lot of uncomfortable emotions, so it’s best to postpone important decisions.
2. Asking too many or too few questions
Yes, this may sound like a bit of a paradox. But both these opposites rank high in the top 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity. Even if you are sure that the affair is over and your marriage is back on track you will be curious about how, why and where it all started, to what extent it went on and why it ended.
You deserve the answers. After all, you can’t remain in denial or pretend it didn’t happen as it only leads to resentment in marriage. It is important to communicate during the process of reconciliation. But perhaps you do not need to know EVERYTHING about it.
Spare yourself the agony of going into intimate details. Sometimes, the thought of your partner with another person, the places they may have visited and the intimacy they might have shared will prevent you from moving ahead. You might just get stuck at one point – certainly not a desirable place to be in. To save a marriage after infidelity and lies is hard enough, don’t add to the pain.
Related Reading: What Is Micro-Cheating And What Are The Signs?
3. Seeking revenge
Most experts say that there are four to six infidelity recovery stages that a person goes through when he or she is betrayed. Discovery of the affair, grief over it, learning to accept and analyze the situation, and finally, reconnecting, are roughly the stages that a person who has been cheated upon experiences.
However, while each stage is difficult and has its own set of challenges, try and refrain from harboring feelings of revenge. At every stage – be it out of anger or extreme grief or during analysis when you get more details and information about the affair – you may be tempted to hurt your partner the way you were hurt.
You might even think of having an affair yourself but know that such thoughts are only self-destructive. Move past this urge to get even because if you don’t, you will never be able to bounce back. Forgiveness in relationships is tough but it is the only way to go if you want to save your marriage.
4. Being paranoid if they will cheat again
One of the most common reconciliation mistakes to avoid after cheating/infidelity is to get overly suspicious of your partner. If you have decided to forgive and move on, do it wholeheartedly or don’t do it at all. Your paranoia about the possibility of them cheating again is going to lead you nowhere. If they have to cheat, they will. So stop looking through their phones, peeking through their stuff or spying on them.
Your doubts are valid as are your fears but acting paranoid will only deteriorate the situation further. You should definitely set boundaries to prevent emotional affairs or even physical ones, but let those rules be to protect yourself not to wreck whatever chances you have at happiness.
For Meg and Kramer, it seemed like falling out of love after infidelity was on the cards. Kramer had been seeing someone on the side and even after he promised it would never happen again, Meg couldn’t stop being suspicious. She checked his phone and always needed to know where he was. Building trust after cheating was a slow and painful process for them.
5. Failure to set boundaries
While we are on the subject of boundaries, know that this ranks high in the top 10 reconciliation mistakes to avoid after cheating. When you decide to take back an adulterous spouse, set the terms and conditions clear. Falling out of love after infidelity always hinges on how strong your boundaries are.
Communicate your needs and fears frankly to set the boundaries. Let them know what you can tolerate and what not. So if you are uncomfortable with your husband’s tendency to flirt with any pretty woman he meets or if you do not like your wife’s demeanor after a few drinks, do not hesitate to spell it out.
Is it possible to reconcile after cheating? It is, given you both understand the new boundaries and ascertain that you’re going to follow them as best you can. To be able to establish any sort of trust, you must let the other person know that breaking these boundaries basically means you’re giving up your shot at fixing the relationship.
Read the riot act before you get back together but once you do, learn to trust and not be too doubtful. Failure to set boundaries in the relationship was perhaps one of the reasons why things went bad in the first instance, so do not repeat that mistake. This is a major step in the stages of healing after infidelity.
6. Attacking your spouse emotionally
Agreed, staying in a marriage that was tethering on the edge sucks. But you have decided to reconcile and continue with the relationship. If you truly want peace in your life and that of your cheating partner, do not indulge in emotional attacks.
One of the most common reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity is the tendency to trade barbs and jibes at every given opportunity. You may have somewhat forgiven your spouse but can’t forget the pain, so you lash out, post cryptic social media messages, give them the silent treatment and trade passive-aggressive digs to make them feel worse.
Basically, you do not want them to forget even if they are truly remorseful. It’s understandable but it only indicates that you need to work on forgiveness to understand how to reconcile after infidelity. If you keep berating your partner every chance you get, you’ll never be able to establish transparency after cheating.
Perhaps, they may even be discouraged from telling you things in the future, which will only damage your relationship further. It’s a terrible thing to do. If you still feel awful, confront them directly and seek a remedy but do not try these below-the-belt tactics that cause nothing but more stress.
7. Confronting the girlfriend/boyfriend
Among all the reconciliation mistakes to avoid after cheating, this one is the worst. Once an extramarital relationship has been broken, do not try to connect with the person your partner was having an affair with. Seeking closure is one of the important stages of healing after infidelity but you are not going to get that by asking for an explanation from the “other” man/woman.
It might be very tempting to ask questions and hit back at your love rival. You might even itch to show off as to how you “won” back your partner from the lover. But other than satisfying your ego, it is not going to serve any purpose. In fact, it may just worsen things since the possibility of the encounter turning ugly is so high. Among the boundaries to set after cheating, perhaps this could be one of the most important ones.
Building up a marriage after infidelity is no mean feat, and thoughts of the “other” make it even tougher. When Dana realized her husband, Chris, had had an affair, she started stalking the other woman. She even started waiting outside her house at times to see what she really looked like. When Chris found out, he said he couldn’t handle Dana’s behavior, and they eventually separated.
“I tried to salvage the situation but Dana just wanted to hurt the person I was having an affair with. She constantly threatened her and even stood outside her house with a baseball bat on one occasion. I couldn’t understand how to help my wife heal after I cheated, and it seemed like she didn’t want to heal either,” Chris told us.
When you are looking ahead after a tough chapter in your relationship to regain trust after cheating, you need to make a clean break to forge a new beginning. Leave it behind and do not act on any negative feelings that you may understandably have toward this person. Be gracious and rise above it all. Do not make your infidelity pain worse.
8. Blaming yourself and feeling guilty
One of the long-term infidelity effects is to blame yourself and feel guilty about whatever happened. You were cheated upon and regardless of the period that the affair carried on, nothing can take away the hurt. However, in some cases, the cheater tries to blame their partner or a bad relationship for straying.
Do not allow them to gaslight you or affect your self-esteem by bullying you. When a person cheats, they should take responsibility for their actions and not play the victim. The stages of reconciliation after an affair do NOT include your partner trying to paint a new version of the things that happened, in an attempt to make themselves look like the victim. Such damaging manipulation tactics can lead to major mental harm for you and may cause you to question your own thoughts.
While it is all right to introspect and look at your part in weakening your relationship, do not let it affect your sense of self. Instead, the aim should be for both partners to realize their mistakes and make an effort to reconcile after cheating as a team. To save a marriage after infidelity and lies, stand strong and see things as they are.
Related Reading: 11 Smart Ways To Catch A Cheating Wife
9. Bringing the children into the drama
Infidelity can be tough on everyone but never make the mistake of bringing children into the problems between the two of you. Sometimes, when an affair is exposed and you are unwilling to let go of your spouse, you tend to use children as a pawn to keep a guilty partner in the relationship.
Some people even use the kids to punish their unfaithful partners by denying them access or threatening to shame them in front of the family. These are all acts of revenge and will not help you improve your marriage. Your partner should want to stay with you because they truly regret cheating on you and are willing to make amends, not out of guilt or protecting the children from getting hurt.
Such a broken, incomplete relationship can never lead to a happy family as the marriage will continue to suffer even if you both decide to be good parents. It’s best to separate the children from the problems facing the two of you. If you want to reconcile after cheating, using manipulation tactics, especially the ones involving kids, is not going to work.
To instill transparency after cheating and to make sure you can get back to what once was, you need to take mind games out of the equation. Coercing your partner into staying is a temporary solution to a permanent problem, and can often lead to more cracks down the road. Out of the 10 common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity, this point needs to be given precedence, since it may also negatively affect the mental state of the children.
10. Not seeking help when you need it
Recovering from an affair is not easy. You can never quite get over the feeling of being taken for a ride. But once you reconcile, if you find you and your partner are stuck, seek help professionally. When you get back with your unfaithful spouse, is the time when you need counseling to chart the road ahead.
It is also the time you need to take care of your own emotions and feelings. Remember that you are at a vulnerable stage and any more mistakes can cause your relationship to deteriorate further. You need to be strong to rebuild a life so do whatever it takes – talk to trusted friends and family or seek out support groups.
Depending on the nature of the affair – whether it was a one-night stand or a long-term emotional relationship – your cheating partner too would have their own share of struggles. Hence it’s best to seek couple’s therapy to start afresh. With the help of an unbiased third party whose sole purpose is to lead you both toward a better place in your relationship, reconciling after infidelity can become easier.
If you’re currently figuring out how to reconcile after infidelity and require couples counseling for the same, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help guide you both back to the harmonious relationship you so yearn for.
They say relationships are like glass that, once broken, will always show a crack. Though the scar remains, that’s not to say that you can’t come out the other end a lot stronger than you were before. Getting out of an affair isn’t easy nor is forgiving a cheating partner and rebuilding your relationship with them. Getting back together is a slow process that requires time, so expect it to be a tough, bumpy road.
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Being cheated upon can change a person in many ways. Firstly, he or she finds it difficult to trust after being betrayed badly. You might find it challenging to invest trust in your partner or any other person again. It might also result in low self-esteem.
You can’t generalize that once a cheater, always a cheater. It depends on the personal values of an individual, the circumstances under which he or she slipped up and the nature of his or her current relationship.
Being cheated hurts because it shatters your core belief and trust in a person. You feel let down by someone you love dearly and that causes more hurt than anything else. You also feel bad about being taken for a ride emotionally.
Time will heal the pain eventually, but it will take time, effort and possibly professional help. It’s also possible that certain scars will always remain, and it’s up to both of you to cope with them in the gentlest way possible.