Can couple restore the trust after husband’s affair?

Vickie is shattered to discover her husband has had an affair. She asks Dr Emmanuella for help in deciding whether to work through the hurt or leave him.

Q. Vickie
My husband has admitted to having an affair. I left my first husband for that very reason. I am shattered. I don’t know whether I can ever trust him again. How do I work through this? How do I stop feeling it must be partially my fault to have had it happen twice?

A. It’s never easy finding out this news. I bet you are feeling shattered and given you have experienced this once before, must make it even harder.

Most people say that if their partner cheated, they would end it – until it happens. It sounds like you want to see whether you can save your marriage. In my experience, affairs happen for many reasons, but they always cause pain.

You need loads of empathy and support. I’d recommend you both see a couples’ therapist, but if that’s not what you both want, then the following steps can help prompt discussions with your husband:

The person who has had the affair needs to cease contact with another person involved.

  • Set a time-limit for asking questions. You can ask as many questions as you want but not indefinitely. The person who has had the affair needs to answer the questions honestly and give loads of empathy.
  • Both of you need to decide whether you want to recommit to your marriage.
  • Both of you need to raise and tackle any issues that have not been addressed in your marriage. Put it all out on the table.
  • Restrict the number of people you tell. Hearing everyone’s views on what you should do can make it harder to move on. 
  • Ensure you have enough ‘me time’. Prioritising your own self-care is important because if you don’t, this can cause resentment and lead people to find excitement elsewhere.

Talk to your husband about how you are feeling. Believe it or not, a relationship can survive an affair if you both choose to recommit.

Have you had to deal with an unfaithful partner? How did you handle the challenge? Do you have any advice for Vickie?

Dr Emmanuella Murray is a clinical psychologist who has been practising for more than 10 years. She works with children, adolescents, adults and couples, and presents to professionals and community groups. Go to her website for more information.

If you have a question for Dr Emmanuella, please send it to [email protected]

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