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September 9, 2015

Let’s Get Intimate: Can We Trust after Infidelity? {Adult Q&A}

kiss couple shadows

Do you have questions about creating intimacy or developing mindful relationships? Confusing questionsAwkward onesDeep, dark scary ones? I want them. Email your questions to: [email protected].

All relephant questions will be answered with loving kindness. (Yes. Every one.) Authors remain anonymous. No judgments, just soulful answers.

Q. How can I start trusting my husband again after he has cheated with several people online?

He has changed his phone number, and will be deleting his e-mail accounts.

A. I hope that you and your husband have received some kind of couples counseling or coaching.

If not, I urge you to begin there. I cannot stress enough the benefit of having a neutral space to discuss emotionally sensitive topics like infidelity. Sometimes, after a breach of trust such as the one you experienced, we think we can go it alone and deal with our feelings in a healthy way.

We may very well be able to. However, what we won’t be able to do is discover what our partner is feeling. More importantly why s/he is feeling that way. In sessions with relationship professionals, we can stop playing detective and perform the healing process of giving and receiving.

Even if you are in coaching or counseling, there is still the matter of how to trust again, especially as the healing process takes its course.

The answer is a painfully simple one: You either do it or you don’t.

Only you can decide if the relationship you have with your husband is worth the long haul toward recovery. Deep in your heart, you know who this man is. Something about him attracted you (likely many things). You chose him as your own. Hopefully over time, you know him even more deeply. You’ve stuck around.

And now this. As my spin instructor likes to say as we’re sweating our heavy pedal strokes, “This is the work.”

What’s your baseline? 

All women have one. It’s the line in the sand we draw, and if a partner crosses it, he’s finished. For some, it’s physical abuse. For others, it’s cheating. There are some women for whom dishonesty is reason enough to give the relationship a pink slip. By honoring your baseline, you can work from there to heal your relationship.

Be warned: You may find that your baseline changes based on the person you’re with. That’s why it is vital to take a long hard look at your relationship with this human being you chose to marry. It may be that he’s worth a shift in your values. Then again, it may not. The point is:

It’s not about him.

When a partner cheats, we feel a great vacuum appear between our beloved and ourselves. So much of what we thought we knew is no longer valid. So much history feels like a sham. This black hole sucks up all the love and healthy energy, leaving a gaping question mark as to what the future may hold.

We look to the unfaithful partner as a live wire, an unpredictable fuse that may blow up our life again at any time.

You ask how you can trust your husband again, but if trust is what you’re after, you must realize that your trust has nothing to do with him. You control with whom you choose to place your trust. 

Don’t wait for a sign that his fuse won’t burn up again. It may never happen. Even if it does, if your trust is not in place, the most perfect behavior will not satisfy you. He could take a vow of silence and put himself under house arrest with no connection to the outside world but The New York Times on the front stoop every morning, and you’d still wonder if he’s fantasizing about other women when he makes love to you.

Own your trust

The decision is yours. Is this man worth your time and effort and loving attention to get your couplehood well again? Are you ready to deal with the pain and take steps to move past it? Can you see that it is your strength that will get you there, not his?

A new beginning

For many couples, infidelity is a necessary reboot for the relationship. Now, I’m typically not a fan of computer and technology metaphors, but I think “reboot” is a good term to use here. No one wants her computer to crash, but if it does, it was because there was clearly something sick in the system. A clean reboot allows the computer to reconfigure and adjust its operations so that it may perform perhaps even more efficiently than it did before.

In relationship, it sometimes takes a nasty spill—perhaps even tripping over a baseline—to temporarily shut down and restart the couple’s system so that it can re-emerge stronger and healthier.

This takes work. So, please, if you have decided that your marriage is worth working on, find a relationship professional and a safe place to heal with your beloved.

Happy loving!

 

Relephant:

Ask Me Anything: Will Infidelity Shatter My Marriage? {Weekly Advice Column}

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Author: Rachel Astarte

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Symmetry Mind/Flickr

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