There are millions of emotions you're feeling after discovering that your man cheated on you; you're angry, confused, outraged, sad, scared, in shock and so on. There's probably about a million other urges you have after finding out he had an affair, and now your a victim of adultery. I'm sure you want to curl up in bed and cry, yet rush to confront him and smash his favorite beer mug, just to name a few.
Once the shock subsides, the big question to ask yourself is this: "Will I stay and give our relationship another chance?"
If you choose to stay with your partner, picking up the pieces by rebuilding trust needs to be a top priority. To repair the damage done takes two—not just your guy, even though he's the one who cheated. This is a delicate time in your relationship where things could literally go either way. You two may try your best, but eventually decide that it's too late and break up, or you may find a way to forgive, trust again and come away even closer than you were before.
During this sensitive time, the littlest bad habits can add unwanted stress and strain to the situation. Both of you need to clean up those disconnecting habits, including the way you communicate. There's one word that will make the divide between you and your partner even larger than it already is. It's a word that we recommend you banish from your vocabulary. In fact, this is a 5 letter word that all couples would be wise to completely stop using: BLAME.
Especially after his affair, this might seem like impossible advice. After all, he was the one who decided to cheat. He was the one who betrayed you and everything you two have built together. He is the one who broke trust, not you, and we completely understand. However, we still recommend that you catch yourself when you speak and even think in terms of blame. When you hear yourself blaming him for the precarious state your relationship is in at the moment, pause, take a deep breath and make a shift.
Remember these 3 important differences to stop blame and move forward together:
1. Expressing your feelings isn’t the same as blame.
It's essential that you acknowledge the way that you feel even if it isn't pretty or kind, but that doesn't mean you should spew it all over your partner. Do be honest with him about how betrayed and pissed off you felt (and maybe still feel) because he cheated. Use "I feel" statements to express your feelings without making him responsible for how you feel.
2. Taking responsibility is different from blame.
It is healthy for your partner to take responsibility for his decision to cheat. If he's not doing that, you can ask him to. Be specific about how you'd like him to take ownership for the affair he had, but this is not the same as blaming him. Avoid generalizing statements like, "Our problems are all your fault!" and instead ask, "How will you take responsibility and make amends for cheating?"
Keep in mind that it's likely you also played a role in the conflict or disconnection that was present in your relationship before the affair. Learn from what happened and be honest about the ways that you may have unintentionally pushed him away. Be responsible for your part and communicate with your partner about that. This is not you making his affair your fault, but instead it's you acknowledging your share. This is an essential part of putting your relationship back together again.
3. Agreements shouldn't include blaming.
A powerful strategy for rebuilding trust after infidelity is to create conscious agreements. In order for you to know that your man is trustable again and in order for him to see that you're making changes too, come up with some clear agreements. And it's best if your agreements don't involve blaming. Focus on the new behaviors you DO want to see more of and that will help you know that it's safe to trust again.
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