Expectations Standing the Way of Your Relationship
Recovering from Infidelity?
By Susie and Otto Collins
Rich has forgiven his wife Linda for having an affair--
They have both worked hard to change some of the
relationship habits that created distance between them and
Linda has made her private life an open book for Rich.
But there is still disconnection between them.
Rich is having a difficult time fully trusting Linda again.
Because she had an affair with a co-worker, he becomes very
watchful and wary whenever Linda has to work late or attends
a work-related event.
On some deep level, Rich expects that Linda will betray him
again and cheat.
If you and your partner are trying to pick up the pieces of
your relationship and rebuild trust after infidelity, you
might be dealing with similar challenges.
Yes, you have made the decision to stay together and work to
improve your relationship. But healing after trust has been
damaged or broken
can take time.
It also requires your deliberate attention.
Do you ever stop and notice the expectations that you have
about yourself, your partner, your relationship and your
Each and every one of us has expectations. It's pretty
You might find, however, that the expectations that you have
are contributing to the tension and distance that exists in
After an affair, you might find your expectations fall
into one of these two categories (they may fluctuate between
the two as well).
1.) You expect that your partner will inevitably cheat
again. It may seem to you that all men/women have affairs or
just that it's in your partner's particular nature to cheat.
2.) You expect that your partner will be virtually perfect.
He or she knows that the affair was hurtful and wrong and
will now do anything and everything to please and make
amends to you.
The drawback of both of these expectations is that when your
mate doesn't act in accordance with what you are expecting,
you feel frustrated or confused.
If your partner seems to be faithful and is transparent with
you (not confirming expectation #1), this is actually a good
But, when you strongly expect to be betrayed, you can't
appreciate and benefit from the positive strides your
mate is making.
You're too busy watching and waiting with suspicion.
The experience is different when you expect that your
partner will be virtually perfect. It may be that he or she
genuinely feels regret for the affair and intends to make
But, your partner is human and will be distracted, have
"bad" days or somehow let you down from time to time. This
doesn't necessarily mean that your mate is going to cheat
Expectations such as these not only cause internal pain for
you, they can drive a serious wedge between you and your
undermines both of your efforts to rebuild trust.
What to do about those pesky expectations.
Very few people walk around having no expectations--
especially when it comes to a person's relationship and
But it is very possible and recommended to notice when your
expectations are getting in the way of you moving closer
together to your mate.
Watch your thoughts. When something like, "I bet he is
checking out that attractive woman" or "Of course she will
do this for me, she has to after having an affair" come into
your mind, stop yourself.
Question the expectations that you have. Ask yourself, "Is
this necessarily true? Is what I am expecting accurate and
will it help us to rebuild trust and connection?"
If it isn't, release that expectation.
It can help to replace a limiting expectation with one that
is more desirable.
For example, Rich notices that when Linda works late, he
expects her to reunite with the man with whom she had an
On those evenings, Rich storms
around the house all caught up in imagined scenarios that
involve Linda cheating again.
Now he is starting to replace the expectation, "Linda is
only pretending to work late so that she can meet up with
him" with "It is possible that Linda actually is working on
a legitimate project at
the office. I could ask her about the project when she gets
You might simply replace an expectation with a reminder to
yourself that you don't actually know that what you expected
is happening or will happen.
When you rebuild trust with your partner after he or she had
an affair, there's inner work to be done.
Of course, your mate will need to prove trustability to you.
You also need to be aware and question your limiting
As you do, you can be more open to see and celebrate the
positive steps that you both are making.