The body certainly does vote, and when it comes to sex, nothing is more powerful. I have seen very wealthy and powerful people literally spending millions of dollars on sex, drugs, and rock and roll—all the while being in the midst of a marriage with children. The level of guilt is staggering enough to kill a herd of horses, but it generally does not stop the offender. The reasons why men or women cheat are multifaceted. They can range from loneliness, poor self-esteem, cultural entitlement, arrogance and/or sexual issues within the marriage or relationship. Our society is also rife with willing males and females who know full well that a roll in the hay will quintuple what they could otherwise earn, not to mention shoes, jewelry, apartments and cars. It says something about our world and the steady decline of moral imperatives. That being said, it's trust that is the biggest loser.
Once trust has been lost, what can we do to get it back—if anything?
1. Coming clean does work—but not completely clean. Denial only leads to more distrust, so the truth has to come out along with the willingness to take responsibility for your actions. However, detailed truth can sometimes make the hurt even worse and compound the pain, and therefore the healing process. Couples can spend tons of time on details while losing the thread of what needs to be done to correct the misconduct.
2. Being defensive, righteous or casual about the problem never works. There must be a sincere effort to work out the issues, or the wall will never come down. The angrier you are, the less you are able to hear what the aggrieved one has to say, and the worse what they feel will get.
3. Talk about what made you do it. Opening up about your own struggle, the need to get help, and the awareness of what got you there in the first place will help to prevent further infractions. If there is a sexual addiction problem, you must be willing to attend SA (sexual addiction) meetings or do what is necessary to make it better. If there is loneliness in the marriage, take the initiative to make an appointment with a counselor. Talking about your feelings of alienation is the best way to connect again.
4. Be an open book. That means open your cell phone, email, and appointment book for a period of time. This is usually the hardest part, because any person who has lived that clandestine underground life of secrecy likes it that way. They feel entitled to privacy, and they become righteous and indignant. At this point, you will need to take a moment and ask yourself what is really important: your relationship or your privacy? It really comes down to that.
5. Renew your vows. Whether married or not, there is a need to discuss values about living life and what that entails. This may be the most important part of the process. Take time to talk about what you want, what got you into this mess, and what needs to happen moving forward. Write it all down and make a ceremony out of it. Invite your friends and family. Tell the world what you are going to do and mean it.