to Rebuilding Trust after Infidelity
By Susie and Otto Collins
Trust is kind of like the air in bicycle tires. When you
hop on your bike, it is the pressurized air in those tires
that keeps your ride smooth and insulated. Low air in tires
or a flat means a much bumpier ride that can damage your
bike or cause you to lose balance and fall.
Trust in your
love relationship is much the same. You may not think about
trust, unless you are experiencing difficulties.
trust is weakened or broken because of infidelity, your
relationship will not operate smoothly if it functions at
If your partner had an affair, you might still be reeling in
the shock, a sense of betrayal, anger or other emotions.
But if you also had an affair, the effects can be doubly
Not only did your partner violate your
agreement to be faithful to one another, you did as well.
You may have had an affair after discovering your mate's
infidelity or it could have happened the other way around.
Either way, you may be feeling mistrust not only of your
partner, but also of yourself.
You might even feel like
both the victim and the wrong-doer at the same time. It can
be confusing to know how you feel and how to heal from what
seems like a big emotional mess.
No matter how hurt and unclear you feel right now, you can
take steps to rebuild trust with your partner.
If you two
decide you want to continue your relationship, you need to
start putting the past behind you and begin making new
agreements for your future together.
Cyndi and Brett walk around one another as if they were in a
field of landmines. It's been several months since they
discovered that they were both having affairs.
they've each ended their extramarital relationships and have
decided to give their relationship another try, neither
really knows how to proceed.
It seems that everything Brett
says or does reminds Cyndi of his betrayal. She feels like
she never would've responded to the sexual advances of a co-worker if she didn't suspect, and rightly, that Brett was
cheating on her.
They both feel guilty and fearful that
this will happen all over again. There have been some happy
moments and they are reminded why they love one another.
these moments are always dampened by the past and the
Clean up and let go of the past.
A primary step in rebuilding trust after an affair is to
clean up and let go of the past. We're not suggesting that
you ignore the affair or pretend your relationship is the
way it was before the infidelity.
Instead, we want you to
take a look at what you are still holding on to.
cling to your role as victim or as the one who "messed up"
or perhaps as both? It's time to make peace with what
happened and move on.
You don't have to wear a scarlet "A"
for the rest of your life to make amends for your affair.
And neither does your partner if he or she is the one who
Cyndi and Brett decide to clean up their hurtful past by
writing each other letters in which they share how they are
feeling right now and even why they think the affairs
happened in the first place.
Neither of them places the
"blame" for the affairs completely at the other's feet.
They each acknowledge that a complex dynamic probably led
Brett to cheat and then a similar dynamic contributed to
In their letters to one another, they each
also talk about what they've learned about themselves and
each other through this experience.
Both express how sorry
they are that this happened. After reading their letters to
one another, talking, hugging and crying, Cyndi and Brett
decide to burn the letters in a bonfire. This, for them,
symbolizes a cleansing and letting go.
Make new agreements.
After their sharing and letter writing ritual, Cyndi and
Brett sit down together and make some new agreements for
They both realize that letting go and
building trust may take some time; but they each begin to
feel excitement about what's ahead.
In this list of new
agreements, Cyndi and Brett definitely include a promise to
be monogamous and faithful to one another. Recognizing some
of the issues that contributed to the infidelity, they also
agree to communicate with one another more clearly and
Holding back and secretiveness has always been a
challenge for them. They decide to work with a relationship
coach to help them with these and other issues.
In the aftermath of infidelity it can feel like there can be
no future together free of suspicion, doubt and fear.
doesn't have to be that way!
Once you and your partner
decide to stay together and turn away from the past, you can
rebuild trust and end up with a closer, deeper connection
than you had before.