Is working through a relationship after cheating wise? Is it even possible to move forward from the lies and deception?
For some couples, infidelity is not a death sentence. Yes, it is painful but there are couples who still choose to work through the heartbreak and rebuild their relationship together. Whatever their reasons might be, they all have one thing in common: they still believe their love is worth fighting for.
Though it is possible to be happy again, a broken relationship can never be the same again, just like a broken antique vase that's been patched up. Yes, its beauty might have been restored by strong glue, but the cracks will always be there, even if it has been made whole again.
If you happen to find yourself in this situation, do not worry. Know that no one has the right to judge your decision. It is only you and your spouse who truly know how you can heal. But you have to be prepared. Here's what changes to expect in a relationship after cheating.
6 Changes in a relationship after cheating
1. You struggle to fully trust your spouse
Naturally, trust will be something you have to work hard to restore in a relationship after cheating. An affair involves sneaking around and deceiving your partner. So, the betrayed spouse finds it more difficult to fully give their trust again.
How can you work through this? Psychology Today recommends making a habit out of telling the truth. Betrayed spouses should also be given the right to ask questions about their partner's whereabouts. The spouse who cheated, in turn, will have to answer honestly and patiently. Rebuilding trust can be a long, arduous process. But, as with many difficult issues, the "only way out is through."
2. Your confidence is either broken or built up
Someone who has been betrayed by the one they love can start to question their worth. Are they not attractive, caring, or interesting enough? Then, they can also resort to self-blame, fearing that it is something they did (or didn't do) that caused their partner to stray.
Despite this struggle to maintain their self-esteem and confidence, betrayed spouses can come out stronger. Taking time apart, for instance, can help you see just how worthy of love you are, and hopefully your cheating partner realises this, too. Feeling appreciated and valued again is one reason couples still find a relationship worth saving.
3. Your libido can become erratic
After a spouse has an affair, the betrayed spouse might struggle with regaining the ability to see their partner sexually. Yes, sexual desire for your spouse might still be there, but it is overpowered by other emotions, like depression or anger.
On the other hand, you can also have days where you will find your spouse even more attractive. You either start to miss them or long to reconnect once more. For some couples, intimacy is a way to bridge communication gaps. While for others, sex isn't pleasurable unless they are in a good place emotionally. Do whatever works for you. There is no rush. Healing takes time.
4. You might be tempted to take revenge
This is a natural feeling. You were betrayed and you want to get back at your spouse for hurting you. But these thoughts shouldn't be entertained for long. "Evening the score," so to speak, will just cause you to lose sight of what matters – restoring your broken relationship.
The same goes for dredging up the past. Don't use the "cheating card" to hurt them during an argument. Yes, it happened and it was their fault. But they're trying to make up for it. Constantly using this as ammo will just drag you both down.
5. You have a new focus
Right after a partner cheats, the betrayed spouse might enter a period of depression. But for many, this is slowly replaced by a renewed drive to love themselves more, like prioritising self-care and pursuing passions they put on hold.
Having been cheated on, you realise that the only person you can truly count on is yourself. So recognising this empowers you to take care of yourself, eat healthy, and to rid your life of toxic relationships. With this in mind, you are able to work on bettering your relationship with yourself, so you can move forward with strengthening your relationship after cheating.
6. You might be more committed to the relationship
Even the strongest couples can be rocked by infidelity. But the good news is, couples can make it through. What's more, they can even find themselves on the other side of deception, healed and stronger than ever.
"An affair can actually be the thing that saves a relationship," says to Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author in an interview with Prevention.
"If the cheater realises it's a big mistake and seeks to understand why he or she was tempted, and the betrayed spouse is willing to look at what might have been missing in the relationship, both of them can repair the damage and actually make the relationship stronger."