3. Address the questions that your partner asks you. Don’t be defensive in response to your partner’s need for information. They need to make sure that you aren’t withholding anything else and they probably have a lot of questions that only you can answer. Be guided by the question “Is this information necessary for the healing of our relationship?” Keep in mind that your intention in this process is to communicate in a way that will restore good will. It’s not necessary to give details that will be unnecessarily inflammatory. Try to see the questions as an opportunity for you to demonstrate the kind of truth telling that your partner needs to see in order to begin to trust you again. Even if the questions seem to be repetitive or unnecessary, they need answers in order to come to terms with the situation.
4. Listen to their feelings, all of them. Don’t analyze, evaluate, judge, or reason with your partner in regard to any of their feelings. Listening without disputing is not equivalent to agreeing with someone’s point of view. It’s possible to listen respectfully even if you don’t see eye to eye about everything. Feelings aren’t necessarily rational, but they are real. You will have your turn to express your perspective, but not until they’ve expressed what they want you to hear.
5. Be patient. Reassure your partner that that they can take as much time as they need to rebuild trust. The process will probably take longer than you think it should and will require self-restraint and compassion. In the end however, it is likely to bring about a deepening of the connection between the two of you. Resist the temptation to urge them to “get over it”. Give your partner reassuring words like: “ I know that I am serious about this commitment and I understand that you need more time to see the evidence and trust me. I can give you all the time you need”.
6. Take responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge the truth of what you’ve done and avoid any explanations, rationalizations, excuses, or justifications for your behavior. There will be a time to view things from a larger context when your partner may be more curious about what conditions in the relationship were contributing to the situation, but that will come later.
7. Stay focused on your intention. The work of recovery from a breach of integrity in a committed partnership takes time and effort and can be humbling. The stakes are high, and the benefits from doing the work are enormous. A successful healing can transform a damaged partnership into a sacred union. Many couples have told us that in the end, the crisis that came from the betrayal ultimately led to a profound deepening of the love and trust that they both currently share.
Keeping your word in the first place will spare you the anguish of healing a betrayal. But in those cases in which the damage is already done, most of the time, recovery is a real possibility. And the benefits greatly outweigh the costs of reconciliation. Take it from the thousands of couples who have found out for themselves.