When couples are trying to recover from an incident of infidelity, the betrayal often becomes the oversized elephant in the room. In fact, in every room.
Infidelity typically looms over a relationship. Breakfast is served with a side of infidelity. The garden sprouts infidelity. The shower spews infidelity, and the bedroom… well, the bedroom blasts infidelity like a set of powerful speakers ramped to maximum volume.
Just as the original infidelity was an unwelcome intrusion into the relationship and must be completely terminated, the ever-present residue cloud of the affair should be banished, to every extent possible.
As I’ve written previously, there is genuine hope for couples who have been injured by infidelity to rebuild and move forward in a loving, supportive, and respectful manner. I’ve identified 7 Survival Steps, including (Step #5) the important need for both partners to regularly set aside time alone to discuss what happened and share their feelings.
To give the emotional wounds of infidelity time to heal, and for lasting recovery to occur, it is also vital that both partners make a sincere effort to resume a ‘normal’ relationship. This is Step #6 of the 7 Survival Steps: Work on Having a ‘Normal’ Relationship. To read about Steps #1 through #5, as well as my other previous Psych Central articles, visit: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/author/abe-kass/.
Couples recovering from infidelity need — to the best of their abilities — do what all healthy couples are supposed to do: spend quality time, eat together, laugh (a lot), parent their children, socialize, pay the bills, talk about work and hobbies, and be friends.
(The question of when to resume sexual relations is complex and a topic that I will discuss fully in a future article.)
When I write about infidelity, for the sake of illustration, I refer to the partner who was betrayed as “Sue” and the partner who strayed as “John.” The examples I use would be no different if the gender roles were reversed and it was John who was betrayed and Sue who strayed. Sue and John are a fictional couple but represent a composite of many men and women who I’ve helped over the years.
To avoid further injury to their already-stressed relationship, once Sue and John agree mutually to work to repair their couple, and they commit to following the 7 Survival Steps, they should strive to get back to “normal” in as many ways as possible.
Sue and John must also work to be kind to one another, be patient, regularly remind themselves of the many positive rewards of being together, and be happy with one another.
Yes, for every rebounding couple, there will be times to rage and cry. Both partners, even the one who strayed, will likely go through highly emotional periods.
But moving forward, normalcy — along with a renewed commitment to treasure and be grateful for one another — must be the predominant path.
Are you or a family member struggling to cope with the aftermath of infidelity? I offer other helpful articles at SurvivingInfidelity.info.