Is it possible to regain trust and intimacy after a relationship has been marred by infidelity? This question has become increasingly important as recent statistics have shown that young people are cheating on their significant others in record rates. Indeed, a recent survey performed in Australia has found that one-third of people aged 18 to 25 have cheated on their romantic partners.
How do you make a relationship work after this type of heartbreak? Well, it depends on who you ask. Cheryl Cole, singer of British pop group, Girls Aloud, has reportedly taken back her cheating husband on one condition: No sex for six months!
While this program might work for Cheryl and her husband, Ashley, I have found that similar "no-sex" plans only serve to create further distance and hurt feelings between the already wounded partners. Taking sex off the table might help to clear the air and place focus on the true issues within the relationship, but banning intercourse as a form of punishment will only sever intimacy, right at the time that it is needed the most.
What are some better techniques for repairing after the affair?
The truth must come out. Whether it is a cyber affair or a relationship with a co-worker, straying partners need to come clean about the entirety of their extramarital relationships. In the case of Cheryl and Ashley, he allegedly cheated on her with three different women. If this hits close to home, take the safe road and fess up to your affairs completely. Whether or not your partner will forgive you is up in the air -- but at least the truth will finally be out.
Avoid gory details. While it is crucial to be honest with your partner, try to avoid being too graphic or explicit with the details. Yes, your partner needs to know that you cheated on him with the next-door neighbor, but he doesn't need to know minute details about the sack sessions. Your partner will already be replaying the possible scenes in his head -- the last thing he needs is extra details to fill in the blanks of his worst nightmare.
Limit the amount of outbursts. When couples encounter infidelity in their relationships, the betrayed partner often has a free-for-all in which their anger and pain is unleashed upon the guilty partner daily. While the guilty partner certainly deserves some of this feedback, couples should be careful to avoid a situation in which the infidelity becomes bigger than the relationship itself. The betrayed partner should limit their grievances and lashing out to 10 minutes, and then agree to let the matter lie for the rest of the day. Thus, the guilty partner will not feel constantly attacked and the betrayed partner will not wallow in pain every minute of the day.
Discover why the cheating occurred. Infidelity can occur for many reasons, but perhaps the most common reason is a need to feel special, loved, and attractive. Don't get me wrong, there is no excuse for cheating. But if someone is cheating, it often suggests deeper problems within the relationship. Discovering these reasons, either with or without a couples' therapist, is a necessary first step on the road to healing a broken relationship.
As long as both members of the couple are committed to improving the relationship and weathering the storm, repairing after an affair is possible. As the Bard once said, "the course of true love never did run smooth," so perhaps this scary bout with infidelity will only serve as a road bump on you and your partner's path to happily ever after.