Trust is one of the fundamental pillars of marriage, right alongside love, respect and loyalty. However, when one of these pillars is weakened, the others automatically take a hit. When loyalty in a marriage takes a hit because your spouse has strayed, it can deal a severe blow to trust, and it’s only a matter of time before love and respect crumble too. Rebuilding a marriage after infidelity and fostering it with love, respect and unquestionable loyalty is crucial if a couple wants to stay together.
However, it is easier said than done. To rebuild trust after cheating and lying is seldom a linear process. There will be many setbacks along the way that leave you feeling like you’re stuck in a one-step-forward-two-steps-backward loop. So, if you’re grappling with the question of how to rebuild trust in a marriage after your partner has cheated, know that it is going to be a slow, long-drawn process.
Broken trust is one of the hardest things to mend, especially when there is infidelity involved. One incident can change your outlook toward the marriage and it may even feel as if the damage is beyond repair. Hang in there, because even though it may feel impossible in the beginning, it’s not. Provided you are both willing to do the hard work. And what does that hard work entail? We tell you with insights from psychotherapist Jui Pimple (MA in Psychology), a trained Rational Emotive Behavior therapist and A Bach Remedy practitioner, who specializes in online counseling, on rebuilding trust after infidelity.
How To Rebuild Trust In A Marriage? Embrace The Reality
The world we live in today is very different from the traditional couple dynamics that patriarchy prepares us for. Today, the man is not the sole breadwinner of the family and women are no longer just homemakers. A majority of them are empowered, financially independent people with careers and social lives of their own.
Even if they’re homemakers, the lifestyle and responsibilities of the modern woman are markedly different from the life led by women in the previous generations. Add to that the prevalence of the internet and social media, and it is not unthinkable for a married woman to reconnect with an old college sweetheart at the click of a button.
Let’s say your wife developed a crush on a coworker or reconnected with an ex, and things spiraled out of control, leading to an affair. Maybe you read the signs that she was cheating or she confessed to the affair on her own; either way, the cat is out of the bag and you have to live with the consequences.
“Can I ever trust my wife again after she cheated?” You may find yourself spending many a sleepless night wrestling with this question. You may want to give the marriage another chance because you still love your wife. Or perhaps, your dilemma is this: “My wife cheated on me but says she still loves me. But how to trust someone again after cheating?
The first order of business here is to establish what rebuilding trust after emotional infidelity or physical cheating means. Jui says, “Trust isn’t just about being able to believe your partner without constantly questioning whether they’re telling the truth or sneaking behind their back to verify whether they’re being truthful to you. It also means having enough faith in yourself and your partner to be open and vulnerable with them again. Once you succeed at fostering that safe space in your relationship, you will have taken the first step toward rebuilding your marriage after infidelity.”
Another thing that can help in rebuilding trust after infidelity is accepting the fact that affairs are a lot more common today may help you come to terms with the reality of your wife’s affair more easily. A recent survey suggests that 55% of married people in India have been unfaithful at least once, and out of which, 56% were women.
As long as your partner is ready to make amends and you don’t want to go down the messy path of divorce, embracing the reality of what has happened is the first step toward rebuilding trust after cheating. If you’re asking, “My wife cheated on me but says she still loves me. What do I do?”, it may be time to consider giving her a second chance and work on rebuilding your marriage after infidelity.
Related Reading: 6 reasons why women have an affair
How To Rebuild Trust In A Marriage
A man once wrote to us just about learning of his wife’s infidelity upon her being diagnosed with an STD. Even though his world turned upside down in a single moment, the couple sought professional help and worked on their marriage to rebuild a connection all over again.
“I am not attracted to my wife after she cheated. After all, how can I trust my wife after she cheated and put not just our marriage but our well-being at risk?” These were his first thoughts when discovered his wife’s infidelity. However, once he was able to establish, with the help of a therapist, that he wanted to give her a second chance, they approached rebuilding the marriage after infidelity as a step-by-step process, focusing on small wins and accomplishments every day.
Jui also concurs, “Shared values are important, whether you’re rebuilding trust after infidelity or building a relationship from the ground-up. Both partners must have an equal commitment toward wanting to make things work. That core of commitment is the key to developing and maintaining trust, especially after it has been broken once.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are 7 steps that will help you learn how to get over insecurities after being cheated on and rebuild trust in your marriage:
1. Change your outlook toward the relationship
Blame it on patriarchy or years of conditioning, the men grow up believing they need to be the dominating one in the relationship. So while your wife’s affair may have caused you a great deal of emotional hurt, it is only natural that your male ego is massively bruised too. If you’re struggling to find out how to regain trust after being lied to, denouncing this outlook toward relationships and gender roles may be a good start point.
How to trust your wife after she cheated? “Love rests on respect, and respect begets trust. For rebuilding a marriage after infidelity, you need to foster it with love, respect and trust. The first step toward that is to respect each other’s boundaries, values and personalities,” Jui advises.
In short, treat your partner like an equal, a fellow human being who has their strengths and flaws, and who is just as susceptible to making questionable choices and succumbing to temptation. It will stop you from constantly asking yourself, “How can I ever trust my wife again after she cheated?”
2. Be honest and allow yourself to grieve
The next step in how to rebuild trust in a marriage is being honest about your feelings and emotions to yourself and your partner. It is only natural to feel sad and angry and even distant from your partner, especially in the initial days. But is the resolve to stay in the marriage stronger than these feelings of hurt?
Give yourself time to get in touch with your emotions and understand how you feel about the situation. Taking a soul-searching trip alone to comprehend your emotions may be a good idea, as the distance will give you a sounder perspective. Keith, who discovered that his wife has been cheating on him for 5 years, tried his best to make the marriage work for the sake of the children but eventually couldn’t succeed.
“When I found out my wife is cheating on me, I was, naturally, devastated. But we had been married for over a decade and had two beautiful children and I didn’t want to disrupt their lives over my hurt. So, I thought, how hard can rebuilding a marriage after infidelity be? As long as we stayed together, things would go back to normal. Except they didn’t. I was not attracted to my wife after she cheated, and resentment in our marriage took such a hold that we had to ultimately part ways,” he says.
Jui explains why this happens and how it can be avoided, “Grief is hard and brings up a lot of uncomfortable emotions that most of us aren’t equipped to deal with. In such situations, it can be tempting to brush the issues under the carpet and pretend like it’s business as usual. However, bottling up your feelings is never healthy – for you, your partner or the relationship.
“If you want your efforts to rebuild trust after cheating and lying to bear fruits, you have to allow yourself to feel all the negative, uncomfortable, soul-crushing emotions, work through them, and emerge on the other side, feeling stronger and more together.”
3. Understand her feelings
Once you have decided to forgive the affair and move on, it is time to reconnect with your spouse. This requires finding answers to some tough questions: Why did she have an affair? Is the affair over? Are there any chances of her going back to the other man? Is she willing to be an equal partner in the relationship rebuilding process? And most importantly, does she still love you?
“When I found out my wife is cheating on me, I simply moved out. I saw no point in staying together when she couldn’t even upload the most basic marital vow. The hurt was so strong that I just didn’t know how to trust my wife after she cheated,” says Bob. However, his wife, Linda, wasn’t prepared to give up on the marriage so easily.
“My wife cheated on me but says she still loves me. This confused me even further. However, Linda truly stuck around and spoke honestly about what led to the affair, why she didn’t stop herself and what made her choose our marriage over the affair. It was difficult to hear at first, but slowly, I began to empathize with her experience. Curiously, in our case, it was my cheating wife who took the first step toward rebuilding trust after infidelity,” he adds.
4. Was it just sex or something more?
Was it an emotional affair or purely physical? It is important to know this, as a momentary physical passion is always easier to get over than a deeply emotional affair. Rebuilding trust after emotional infidelity can be a lot harder because in this situation your partner has developed a deep attachment with another person.
You must create an environment where your wife feels comfortable sharing these details with you. If you both cannot seem to make headway on your own, seeking help from a professional therapist can help. In these circumstances, being 100% sure of the reasons for rebuilding a marriage after infidelity becomes even more pressing.
“This is the time to shift the focus from ‘can I trust my wife after she cheated?’ to ‘why do I want to give my wife and this marriage another chance?’. Are you planning to stay together for the sake of the children or do you want to genuinely work at rebuilding a marriage after infidelity?
“There are no right or wrong answers in this situation. However, your answer will determine the extent to which you will succeed in your attempt to rebuild trust after cheating and lying on your spouse’s part. It will also determine the kind of relationship you and your wife have in the future. So, deliberate over what you want from your life and don’t make any decisions lightly,” advises Jui.
Related Reading: 5 women share their experience of one-night stands
5. Analyze your relationship
A crucial part of how to rebuild trust after cheating is to analyze your own relationship. While your wife’s infidelity is not your fault in any way, it is possible that she turned to someone else as a coping mechanism to deal with what’s lacking in your marriage. Your wife’s affair could have been the result of some underlying, unresolved issues in your marriage. Maybe she felt unappreciated or lonely.
While it may be difficult to look inward when it is easy to place blame on the other person, you need to find constructive ways to bridge the distance and cultivate real communication. Identifying the cracks that made room for a third person in your relationship is absolutely vital to make it cheating-proof in the future and work at rebuilding a marriage after infidelity in true earnest.
Of course, this objective analysis may not be possible on your own, especially when you’re struggling with feelings of hurt, pain and betrayal. That’s why couple therapy is always a sensible route to take in such situations.
6. Create new equations with your wife
While you can learn how to trust someone again after cheating, you have to brace yourself for the fact that this setback will alter your equation forever. Pining to go back to the way things are will only make it harder to rebuild the marriage. Instead, focus on creating new equations within an existing connection. Who knows after succeeding at rebuilding trust after infidelity, your bond becomes stronger than ever before.
The answer to how to trust your wife after she cheated lies in turning over a new leaf in your relationship. A grand gesture such as going on a second honeymoon always helps in making a fresh start. It gives a couple the perfect opportunity to create new memories, which may help in wiping out old, hurtful ones.
To make sure that these positive feelings are sustained in the long run, make sure you and your spouse practice continued meaningful communication, find new activities to pursue together and invest quality time to make your marriage stronger.
7. Leave the past alone
Most importantly, let the past bury its dead. Once you have come so far in understanding how to rebuild trust in a marriage, don’t let the urge to snoop around your wife’s phone or cross-check her whereabouts all the time ruin all the hard work you’ve done. That said, it is only natural that you’ll develop an instinct to look out for signs of trouble. It’s perfectly okay as long as that behavior doesn’t take on an obsessive turn.
Don’t use your wife’s infidelity as a weapon against her every time you fight or have an argument. Or don’t deny her the right to voice her concerns, issues and relationship problems just because she betrayed your trust. You cannot succeed at rebuilding a marriage after infidelity if your spouse feels like they’ve been trapped in a life sentence of dealing with accusations and blame.
Once you’ve come this far, the going will get easier, as long as both you and your spouse hold up your end of the bargain. Rebuilding trust after infidelity can be a long, arduous journey. However, if both you and your spouse are truly committed to making your marriage work despite this gargantuan setback, the journey will be worth the end destination.