How can I make him trust me again after having cheated on him?
Infidelity can either become an opportunity to strengthen your relationship or gracefully move away from one another.
There are two parts here. One is your part, the other is his. You can do yours in making him trust you. But he won’t trust you fully unless he does his part too.
An affair is not the problem. It can be a symptom of the problem. And I say ‘it can be’.
So, if you both feel (he should feel it in equal measure. I write this answer presuming he feels it in equal measure) that you should be taking this opportunity to strengthen your bond, the following things can be done to get back trust and better your relationship.
Remember a lot of relationships merely survive an affair. Do you really want just survival? Or do you want a beautiful relationship much better than what existed before the affair?
Aim for the latter.
For you (The person who had the affair) –
1. You need to stop the affair. First step. Tell your partner it’s over. In that process, if you have to let go off some of your freedom, do it.
2. Apologize for hurting him.
Now there are two parts to this apology and you therefore need to inquire into yourself.
A lot of people feel apologetic for hurting their spouse but don’t necessarily feel apologetic for the affair itself. There is a difference. Key difference. Introspect and find out what do you feel apologetic about.
Don’t judge yourself, just introspect. Don’t tell yourself what you “should” be feeling. Just find out what you actually feel.
If you do not regret the affair, your relationship with your husband is far worse than you think. If this is truly the situation, then you need to check why do you wish to live with him. Is it really love? Or is it other things which your mind disguises as love? Introspect well.
Most people who don’t regret the affair itself either quit from the first relationship (as they probably should), or merely survive without realizing why.
If you truly regret the affair, apologize. No buts, no justifications, plain and simple sorry. Assure him it would never happen again.
3. Sex –
Well, given that he is a man, sexual affair for him is the most painful. If you were to have an emotional one, he probably wouldn’t even bat an eye!
Cheating according to me happens in many forms. There is the cheating by contempt, cheating by neglect, cheating by emotional affairs, and cheating by indifference. Sexual cheating hits worst. More so for men and I believe the reasons for this are very very interesting but since they are not the topic of this answer, I will not go there.
Know and understand that sexual cheating will break him and fixing it is a task. Immediately in the aftermath of an affair, there is an upsurge of sexual activity between the couple. This is mainly to ward off the effect of the affair.
You real work would begin months later. To assure him. To make him feel wanted. An affair tells him that he is rejected. You have to make him believe he isn’t and would never be. He is needed, wanted.
Remember, feeling wanted, is very different from feeling loved. And if you cheated out of this reason, you will very well see the difference.
Lastly, forgive yourself.
For Him (the person whose spouse had an affair) –
1. Victim of an affair need not necessarily be the victim of the marriage –
Your first job is to not find out the details. I know this is hard, but the details are only going to hurt you more. So, control that temptation.
Questions like “Was he better than me?, How did you do it? Which position? Where? How many times?”, all of these need to be curbed.
Instead, ask the questions that really will make a difference.
Ask the person what the affair meant to her. How did she feel in that relationship that she couldn’t in the first one. What was going through her mind before and after it.
Ask these kind of questions which will help you both see as to what the affair meant.
End of the day, that is what matters.
Once you see what the affair meant to her, it will probably point at the flaw in your relationship. You can then work on it.
What happens in a marriage / long term committed relationship is that you take the other person for granted. We treat our spouse like she can never leave.
She is never truly yours. But she can be. From moment to moment. That’s how you make “ever after”.
2. If you truly love her, trusting again is possible –
Tell her the following –
Tell her that after the affair, you are going to trust her even more. Blindly so. You would never ever check her phone or anything else. You now know that it is possible for a spouse to be attracted to another and cheat. While it is hurtful to the other, it can happen. So, living on tenterhooks is pathetic. You will trust her to tell you if she finds herself straying again.
And then the call would be yours. Whether to continue or move away.
Know that she cannot make you trust her if you don’t allow yourself to. If you constantly keep digging, neither of you can ever be happy together. So, you’ve got to take a blind leap of faith.
3. Do not presume a moral high ground –
Most often the deceived spouse is going to feel – “Do you think I didn’t feel attracted to others? But I didn’t go cheat. I didn’t stoop as low as you.” Presuming a moral high ground will never work if you wish to fix the relationship.
It will initially make the person who cheated more guilty but above that nothing else.
You end up increasing the gap between you two. She not only feels guilty, she also now can never talk to you about the affair openly because you bring morality into the picture and she will feel judged.
This will lead to a relationship which will resemble a principal of a school and a spoiled student. It’s not what you want!
4. How to deal with rejection?
One spouse’s act of sexual transgression invariably leads to the other’s identity crisis. And most times, the identity crisis of the person who deceived too. (This nobody will tell you!)
So feeling rejected is normal. But now, you’ve got to dig. Not into the details of her affair, but into the details of your relationship.
Very often (unless your relationship was pathetic, in which case you need not introspect at all. You will know), the reason to stray has less to do with you (or rejecting you) and more to do with either the third person or your partner’s own self.
What she feels in your relationship (or what she has become as a result), is what she is rejecting. Not you. That is what she wants to go away from. Not necessarily you.
That is why, before taking it all very personally, inquire.
Once you know the reason and are certain you love her too, move ahead to making it work.
Know that it is both your responsibility and not hers alone.
To both –