On healing from infidelity

Healing from infidelity in your relationship includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Honesty. All partners must know the infidelity occurred and when it ended, however, all the sordid details are not necessary and may end up getting in the way of healing. If you are the offended partner feeling the need to know the entire story, I understand the desire, but to protect your heart, your sleep (our imagination can be cruel and active as we try to fall asleep), and your relationship, I recommend focusing on yours and your partner's relationship. More on what to focus on below.
  • Time - More time than you would like.
  • Anticipating and addressing your partner's grief. This is the responsibility of the "offending partner." Healing and rebuilding trust comes from validating, apologizing, and reassuring your partner of your love without anger or resentment over and over (I'm talking in terms of years. As long as it takes.)
    • This takes patience with yourself and patience with your partner. Meeting your partner's grief with kindness and empathy is key. 
  • Self-Compassion. Separate your self-worth from the betrayal that occurred. This is the responsibility of both partners. Taking hold of your self-worth as a solid thing that is not dependent upon others' treatment, loyalty, or approval of you. Cultivating self-compassion is powerful. For support in this, I highly recommend reading There is Nothing Wrong with You, seeing a therapist that you really like, or watching this Ted Talk by Ben Foss (It is quite good, in my opinion, for addressing shame in relationships).
  • Differentiation. Coming out of emotional fusion with your partner into a more solid sense of self and therefore, more freedom and access to loving vulnerable communication, intimacy, and individuality in one's relationship. I recommend, Intimacy and Desire by David Schnarch. 
  • Hope.  A therapist can help you with this. We are trained to hold hope for you, your growth, and your relationship when you feel that you have none. Esther Perel provides a hopeful perspective around healing from infidelity in this Ted Talk.

There is healing to be had. It is after the largest ruptures that the strongest connections can be constructed. 

For more on infidelity, I recommend this interview of couple therapy expert, Dr. Paul David. He also has an article with tips for repairing/reconnecting after infidelity on his website.

What makes going to marriage & romantic relationship therapy so difficult?