Deception in a relationship is one of the worst things you can do to your partner. The breach of trust is so great, that it accounts for 50% of the caseload for couples therapists. People struggle because they don't know how to repair their relationship, or, some wonder if they are even capable of coming back after an affair. Here are a few steps that may help you.
Insight #1: You've experienced a traumatic event. Treat it as such, but with guidelines.
It is normal to want to process the affair. To talk about it at length, over an over. However, establish guidelines on when you can speak about it, and when you can't. Examples include: Not before heading into work, when either of you have consumed alcohol, or if it erupts into a fight that is tail-spinning.
Insight #2: Here are some questions that will need to be uncovered at some point.
1. Why are you back? Why do you want to save the relationship?
2. Why did you choose her/ him? What do they have that I don't?
3. How did we get here? What created this distance?
Insight #3. Trust is built in micro-moments.
Couples often ask us, "how do we rebuild trust?" While we would love to have a marathon tape to show you trust has been rebuilt, that's not how trust works. Trust is bult in what we call, "micro moments." Tiny relational moments that signal to your partner that you have their back. That you won't do it again. That you'll talk about it as much as needed, even if it's 150th time. A micro moment looks like this.
"Honey, I have this awful feeling. You didn't text me back last night and my mind began to wander." "I'm so sorry that happened to you. Let's talk about exactly what happened last night, what lead to you feeling that way, and what we can do differently." That is a micro moment.
Conversely, what we see happen is this, "Ugh, again? Really? You really think I would cheat on you again? When will you get over this?" That is a trust destroyer.
-- Erika Boissiere, MFT is a the founder of TRISF, and a relationship and individual therapist in San Francisco, CA.