Reconnecting with your spouse after infidelity is quite hard due to broken trust.
Unfortunately, trust can be a fickle thing, very much akin to a teapot, if broken, you may try gluing it back together, but it just won’t be the same.
The term “infidelity” refers to full-blown sexual adultery, emotional betrayal of that trust, or any type of “affair” that one partner has with a person outside of a committed relationship.
For such a secretive act, there’s a surprising number of public surveys on the matter of infidelity. But then again, I was more surprised to discover dating sites that exist specifically for people searching for affairs!
But we’ll go over them later in this article.
Trust, value systems, and forgiveness are at the forefront when looking at the tricky task of reconnecting.
Note: Ellen Evans is a professional Psychotherapist with 10+ years of experience in counseling.
As far as value systems go, people who are willing to reconnect after their spouse’s infidelity need to place themselves in the position where cheating is not such a black and white subject.
Perhaps they always thought they would immediately leave a partner who behaves adulterously, but when the deed actually happens, they discover that their values have shifted or need to shift.
Whatever the case, a large part of staying put is determined by how one values oneself, the relationship, the partner, plus the value system itself.
Similarly, for any healthy relationship to flourish, trust is a fundamental core quality.
Building a healthy relationship can be hard at the best of times. Throwing in adultery and rebuilding can seem impossible, as trust is one major wound that usually takes time to heal.
Those who have stayed together for a long time may have more difficulty rebuilding trust than those in a new relationship.
Trust is something that grows, and to have that carpet swept right under your feet after many years can really hurt.
For a spouse who wants to reconnect after their partner’s infidelity, the betrayed needs to regroup – to know what’s real again. Their self-esteem also needs to lift as they may have taken a bash due to the infidelity.
With regards to trust, firstly and obviously, the cheating has to stop.
Then perhaps the betrayed partner needs a window to make a phone, computer, and password checks, etc.
These checks may seem over the top. Yet, trust at its basic level has been broken, so perhaps the demand for all of these to be above board for a short while is reasonable.
The person who cheated, when discovered, best not hide the full truth. Even if it creates more hurt, it is wise to talk openly about what transpired.
Full disclosure, of course, helps with trust-building. And it is also vital in terms of forgiveness, as the key to reconnection is the ability to be as open and acknowledging as possible.
When infidelity happens, the truth of the matter is that it is never that the case of one spouse being bad and the other good, and that’s what makes reconnecting difficult.
There is always a dynamic.
Thus, blaming and shaming never work.
The one who has had an affair does need to take full responsibility. Indeed, this step is often the first one towards forgiveness.
In a way, infidelity can be linked to the subject of bullying. The bully is seen as the baddy, whereas the one bullied, a victim. Yet, one must ask why that bully is behaving in such a mean way. What is the underlying hurt or wound that makes someone hurt another?
The way through any damaging ‘mistake’ on one person’s part needs to be examined and understood.
Reconnecting With Your Spouse Post-Infidelity
The time it takes to recover and reconnect post-infidelity can depend on the relationship you have with your spouse. As a therapist who works with couples, I would say it normally takes around one to two years.
We all make mistakes.
Some people can move on more quickly than others when it comes to forgiving and moving forward.
For instance, if a couple has other strong links and commitments, such as children or a home, then the road to reconciliation can be a faster one.
Some couples can reconnect in radical ways.
Say, for example, that the partner who has cheated has expressed dissatisfaction in the couple’s sex life. They could go to a Sexual Counsellor who may help with communication around sexual needs.
If you wish to go in-depth on this subject, we wrote this helpful article that explains how therapy can help save your relationship.
It may come to light that one partner is not willing to do certain things. Therefore an agreement is made to have an open relationship. Imagine the trust needed for that shift in dynamic…
As said earlier, I was interested in finding out the (fairly) realistic stats on the amount of infidelity – and, more importantly – the percentage of spouses who manage to reconnect and stay together afterward.
I uncovered the following data:
According to The National Health and Social Life Survey, men historically and currently, are more likely to cheat:
4% of married men, 16% of cohabiting men, and 37% of dating men.
1% of married women, 8% of cohabiting women, and 17% of women in dating relationships.
Other research indicates both genders are “almost” equally likely to have affairs in this modern day.
The most consistent research data seems to be sourced from the University of Chicago’s General_Social_Survey, revealing more balanced statistics.
The study has interviews tracking back to 1972 that show 12% of men and 7% of women have admitted to cheating on their partner.
And when it comes to the percentage of couples who commit to staying, only half of the betrayed stick around.
Not the most reassuring of stats. And given that the act of betrayal is not a light one, reconnection can take the form of many acts – not least the act of forgiveness.
Reconnecting with your spouse after infidelity isn’t easy, but it is more than possible.
When there is any distressing rift or pain in a relationship (also read “in one’s life”), that very pain offers up a gift for healing. That’s just how discomfort works.
Without pain, we wouldn’t understand nor experience its opposite.
Saying this doesn’t mean reconnection is always possible. Indeed, healing from the rift in your relationship may actually mean it is time to make a new one.
I like to think that there is more than one potential life-long partner out there in this big wide world. Perhaps each relationship is as long as its life span is.
So, as a couple, decide what is at the heart of the relationship ending or continuing.
And it’s best if you both decide with your hearts.
Recommended: Can Therapy Help You Stop Cheating?