50 Things You Should Try For Hotter Sex

Had An Affair? With Time & Effort, You Can Rebuild Trust

By , ,

How To Rebuild Trust After An Affair
It takes effort to get back to a loving place, but it can be done.
If you or your partner has been unfaithful, it's time to do some damage control.

Infidelity will shake even the strongest marriage to its core. Both partners experience overwhelming feelings of anger, frustration, distrust and betrayal after one has an affair. Some choose to end their relationship and move on, but many make a commitment to healing the wounds and rebuilding trust. This is by no means an easy path, but it's not an impossible one. YourTango asked two relationship experts, Marla Martenson and Cindy Holbrook, how couples should navigate these rough waters.

Before you begin the healing process, you should be certain it's what's best for you and your emotional health. As Holbrook says, "Before you proceed, be sure that reconciliation is truly what you want. Do not stay in the marriage out of fear of being alone. Many women remain in unfaithful relationships because they fear the stigma of divorce."

More from YourTango: On Aging Gracefully And Being (Naturally) Gorgeous In Your 60s

There's also tendency for the philanderer to place blame on their spouse. Despite the fact that it does take two to tango, this is an unfair move. Martenson explains: "If you have had an affair, take total responsibility for your actions. No matter how driven you felt to have the affair, nobody made you do it. The more you blame your partner, the longer it will take him to believe that you are trustworthy, and to be able to forgive you."

After you have both come to a place of acceptance, understanding and certainty, both Martenson and Holbrook agree that transparency and clearly defined boundaries are integral to the healing process. Martenson explains: "Once you have recommitted and made the decision to stay in the relationship, being transparent will be the key to maintaining good faith and trust. If you have had an affair, you need to be an open book with where you are going and with whom, call if you are running late, leave your emails and texts open and available for your partner to see. Your words, actions and deeds must come from absolute integrity." 

Holbrook agrees, adding that you should "set ground rules that the two of your agree on as both necessary and fair to help you regain trust. They may include things like him not hiding his computer screen when you walk into the room, or not excusing himself every time he gets a text. You may also want to explore 'curfews,' that ask him to be home at a certain time every night." But rules don't have to be all restraint and rigidity: Holbrook adds that "fun" rules should also be a part of your routine, including weekly date nights to help you rekindle romance as you rebuild trust.

Rule-setting seems easy enough (although rule following may be a different story!), but there's a lot of work both partners should do on an individual level. Holbrook believes it's extremely important for the betrayed party to really take time to grieve and mourn the breach of trust and fidelity: "Allow yourself to grieve over the betrayal. Feel and embrace your emotions in a safe and nurturing environment. This may mean sharing them with a coach or trusted friend. It also gives you license to cry your eyes out or beat the crap out of a pillow if that is what you feel like doing. You cannot let go of the pain until you allow yourself to feel." Why is this necessary? Holbrook explains further: "If you try to push your emotions aside, they will come out with a vengeance sometime in the future."

If you're the guilty party, you have work to do as well. As Martenson says: "You must do what you promise, with no exceptions. Keep the lines of communication open. Prove to your partner that you have learned from this awful mistake. Always be found where you say you will be. And above all, it is essential that all contact with the third party be severed. You cannot remain friends with your ex-lover."

But because a relationship is a two-way street, you should engage in confidence-boosting activities as a team. Martenson suggests taking a trip down memory lane to recall what life was like before the incident: "It is important for you as a couple to remember the good times you have had in your marriage, and why you chose to be together in the first place. Reminisce about the early days in the relationship and the fun times. Look at family photo albums together and recall the trips you took. Remember all of the dreams that you shared." She also suggests a vow renewal ceremony or second honeymoon to really reconnect.

It is entirely possible for a marriage to recover fully from an affair, but partners should not expect the change to happen overnight. As Martenson says, "Expect that it could take at least a year for your partner to be able to trust you again. You should be prepared to have ongoing, often painful conversations about your betrayal. You may also need support from a therapist." 

Holbrook echoes this sentiment, adding that for the injured party, martyrdom is not an option: "Remember, that it was and is your choice to forgive your partner. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean forgetting, but it does mean that you choose not to punish him for his mistake through your actions or words." She also stresses that once a couple decides to move forward, sneaking or snooping behavior is extremely detrimental to confidence building for both partners.

An affair damages what Martenson refers to as the two most fundamental elements of a marriage: trust and commitment. But if both parties are truly willing to dig in and do the work required, coming out as an even stronger couple is completely possible. If you or your partner has had an affair, try taking the steps outlined here to work toward a more honest, loving place. It won't be easy, but a healthy, loving relationship is worth the battle.

More from YourTango: On Body Confidence & Feeling Awesome: It's Not About Appearance

Have an affair? More advice from YourTango:

Share this with someone you love (or even like a lot)!

Let's make it
FB official
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Marla Martenson


Marla Martenson, matchmaker & author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Credentials: Other
Advanced Member

Cindy Holbrook

Divorce Coach

Do you want to get off of the emotional roller-coaster and gain Peace, Confidence and Clarity?

Discover 5 Simple Steps to Have More Peace During and After Your Divorce today!

Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Credentials: CPC
Specialties: Divorce/Divorce Prevention
Advanced Member

Rochelle Bilow


Helping YourTango Experts help you live your best love life!

Location: New York City, NY
Credentials: Other
Other Articles/News by Marla Martenson, Cindy Holbrook, Rochelle Bilow:

No Whimps Allowed: Handling Dating Rejection With Grace


Dating and rejection, these two words often seem to go hand-in-hand. It is just part of the equation. Chemistry is not something that can be predicted. So even if the date goes well, that romantic spark might not be there. I remember when I was out there in the dating pool seeking a soul mate. I had a strategy for deciding if the guy should get a second ... Read more

Stronger Than Yesterday: 5 Ways Divorce Can Empower You


Going through your divorce is probably one of the most trying times in your life. It's hard to imagine that it might actually make you stronger (and happier). However, when you get through this dark tunnel, the light you'll come into will be so bright and radiant and wonderful that you'll feel like a brand new you. YES, it really is possible to ... Read more

The Ultimate Gift: Unconditional Love


You know that "I can do anything" feeling when you're completely supported, cared for and nurtured? That's what unconditional love feels like, and here at YourTango, we're so crazy about it, we're celebrating it for the next two weeks. From romantic relationships to parent-child relationships to our friends and even our pets, there ... Read more
Recent Expert Posts

Emotional Vampires: Skills for Dealing with the Narcissist

Expert, Margaret Jacobson shares insights gained from Albert Bernstein's, book Emotional Vampires


One-liners Guaranteed to Turn Up the Heat

Want some off the hook sex tonight? Use words as foreplay!

Make A Move

Forgiveness : The Most Important "F-Word".

Forgive so that the past no longer holds you back. It is time to move forward.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

How to find the right pro for you
10 Reasons Mental Health Pros Should Join YourTango Experts

10 Reasons Mental Health Pros Should Join YourTango Experts

YourTango Experts can help your business go from good to great.

10 Steps To Improve Your Coaching Business

Take your coaching business from mediocre to great in no timeā€¦

Frequently Asked Questions About YourTango Experts

Thinking of joining? Here's all the facts you need to know to make the most of your membership.

Getting Your Guy To Join You In A Therapy Or Coaching Session

So how can your get your strong, self-reliant, superman to talk to an Expert with you?

Therapist/Counselors: Who We Are & What We Do

What exactly does a therapist/counselor do and can they really help?

See more resources>