By Margarita Nahapetyan
Some people say that when we deeply love or care about someone we automatically open the door to betrayal. I am not sure whether such statement holds true or not, but one thing I know for sure - relationships are never easy and, no matter what we might picture and dream of in the happy early stages, relationships absolutely do not provide a promise of safety or an everlasting love.
Finding out about a partner's affair can be devastating because it strikes at so many aspects of our identity, dropping us to our knees and making us believe that it is impossible to ever trust anyone again. Unfortunately, most of us react by trying to shield ourselves in ultimately destructive ways, doubting our own attractiveness and testing everyone we meet. All this can raise fundamental questions about the inherent goodness of the world and can only insure another miserable relationship.
One of the most difficult things to do after a betrayal is to regain trust in a person who betrayed you, and depending on how extensive the damage is, sometimes it is not even worth wasting your time restoring the relationship. However, on the other hand, the relationship may look quite promising, and you may want to consider making it work. First of all, decide for yourself whether you have the capacity to forgive your partner because your pain might be too strong and too deep and the betrayer too flawed to ever again be worthy of trust. In order to figure out whether you should try to give your partner a second chance, ask yourself a question: is this betrayal something new in your relationship, or is it a part of an ongoing pattern of your partner's behavior? If it is not part of an ongoing pattern, you may have a very good reason to take the risk of working with your partner to heal the wounds.
It is natural that every time you see your partner, you will be feeling all over again the pain they made you suffer through. However, avoid humiliating the betrayer, because no matter how tempting it might be to watch them squirm at the end of a hook for making you suffer, at some point you must make a decision whether you want revenge or a relationship. You cannot have both, at least not for a long time. If you do not give your spouse/partner an opportunity to make sincere amends, there is a good chance that your union will end. Psychologists say that when people do not allow their partners to repair the damage caused by marital infidelity, the chance of them getting divorced significantly increases.
No matter how hard it is to just forget everything and get over the betrayal, try to look for signs that indicate sincerity, such as remorse, regret, and other signs indicating that a person is really trying very hard to regain your trust back. Do not repeatedly remind your partner about the betrayal, be prepared that it will take some time to reach that point when you will start trusting again. Remember that if it takes time to build the trust, it is going to take even more time to rebuild it. And for now just give a person the time to prove himself.
Another essential key component to regaining trust is communication. Give it some time to see if your relationship is lacking communication and keep the lines of communication open. Never assume that other people - even very close ones - know exactly how you are feeling. Also, make sure that the other person wants to stay in the relationship, as for some individuals it is very hard to live with the guilt, or they may have this subconscious feeling that you will betray them as well.
Never underestimate getting help from professionals. After going through a romantic betrayal, many people avoid reaching out to their family or friends because they don't want to share their shame or humiliation. As a result, they feel more isolated and lonely. This is why it will be very hard for most couples to get over the potential damage of a betrayal without seeking professional help. And it is not just about maintaining a relationship anymore; it is about controlling and overcoming the damage caused by betrayal to your personal identity, your self-esteem, and your feelings of security in the world.
Finally, remember that you are not the only person in this world who was betrayed and humiliated, there are lots of couples out there whose relationships have been rocked by infidelity or other forms of betrayal. And while many of these relationships do not survive major problems, and very often end in painful divorce, couples who commit to working on their relationships often find that they are much stronger as a result.