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How to Rebuild Trust After an Affair

There is no easy way to approach cheating. Finding out your partner is having an affair

can be traumatic, causing you to look into yourself for answers. Many people believe that you

cannot move past affairs, and that rebuilding trust after cheating is impossible. However,

healthy and honest communication paired with counseling can provide couples with the

resources they need to regain the trust in their relationship. Gottman’s Trust Revival Method

provides couples with 3 important steps they must take to help restore trust and heal their

relationship from infidelity. These steps are: Atone, Attune, and Attach.

Step 1: Atone

In this phase of relationship recovery, the cheating partner must take responsibility for

their actions and display a commitment to regaining their partner’s trust. The cheater must

make amends by owning up to their actions and apologizing to their partner, being sure to

spare any defensiveness. The betrayed partner will want an explanation, therefore, the cheater

must be transparent about what happened, the reasons behind it, and how they want to move

forward. Patience is extremely important in this phase, as it will take time for the betrayed

partner to process their thoughts and emotions. The cheater must also be willing to actively

and constantly offer their partner reassurance and security in the relationship by allowing them

access into all facets of their life. The betrayed partner must also be willing to forgive their

partner and move forward as well. In order to heal the relationship, they must want to stay in it.

Although infidelity can feel relationship-ending, the betrayed partner should be patient and

open to cooperating in order to get the relationship back on track.

Step 2: Attune

Gottman defines attunement as “the desire and the ability to understand and respect

your partner's inner world”. In this phase of relationship recovery, both partners must establish

what needs weren’t getting met, and what their goals are for the new relationship. Then, they

must develop a strategy on how to move forward and fix the issues. Partners will need to focus

their energy on reconnecting and re-lighting the spark by being vulnerable, listening to their

partner, and having healthy conversations about their emotions. Asking each other about your

day, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on in your lives will help make both partners feel

more connected and boost intimacy in the relationship.

Step 3: Attach

The final phase of relationship recovery involves physical intimacy. It is natural for the

betrayed partner to feel resentment, anger, and insecurity when discussing physical intimacy

and sex, which is why having honest conversations about your sex life is important. Rekindling

the physical relationship is usually the most difficult step, but with cooperation and effort from

both partners, it can be done. Both partners should express their desires, feelings, and

attitudes towards sex, and establish any necessary boundaries. The betrayed partner will most

likely be hesitant to rekindle physical intimacy at first, therefore patience is also essential in this

step.(This article was contributed by UCF Clinical Psychology student, Mileydy Morales)

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