1. Ask yourself if you feel regret for what you did
“I want to know how to fix a relationship after I’ve cheated,” Mark states. “I am deeply sorry for what I did.” By feeling this genuine level of regret, it is clear that Mark is open to rebuilding the relationship after cheating.
Without a deep level of feeling remorse and regret for one’s actions, fixing a relationship after you’ve cheated is not likely to work. If it was you who cheated, ask yourself if you feel truly sorry.
You need to have a deep sense of regret and the willingness to express this to your partner in order to start moving forward with fixing your relationship after cheating.
2. Be accountable
Take responsibility for your infidelity. Own this act and the trauma it has caused in your couple.
Do not say to your partner, “Well, we hadn’t had sex for months! What did you expect me to do?”
Tell your partner that you and only you are solely responsible for stepping outside of the relationship. It did not happen because of something they did or didn’t do.
You have free will. Even if there were issues in your marriage, you chose to be unfaithful rather than addressing the real problem.
3. Cut all ties immediately with the person you cheated with
No ifs, ands, or buts. The cheating must stop.
Cutting all communication channels with the “cheatee” is an essential part of how to fix your relationship after you have cheated. Block them on all social media.
Delete their contact information from your cell phone (don’t just change the contact name. Delete them and block them.)
Your partner needs to know that this is truly over and that that person is no longer present in your lives.
4. Be honest
Again, total honesty is part of rebuilding the relationship after cheating. The cheater must be willing to reveal all text messages, photos, and emails, should the other partner feel the need to see these.
Be open to handover logins and passwords. If you hide anything, it will be discovered eventually. That will just break trust again.
Be aware that rebuilding trust is a long and slow process with its own timeline, so don’t set any fixed end date for this. That said, should your partner still be insisting on total access to your emails and texts two years after the infidelity, you are justified in saying enough!
It could be that trust may never be restored in your relationship and that you may wish to part ways.
5. Rebuild trust
Rebuilding trust is vital to fix a broken relationship after cheating. Couples’ therapists advise total transparency as part of the rebuilding process.
The person who was cheated on must be allowed to ask any and all questions, even the most painful, intimate ones, of the cheating partner. This seems counterintuitive, right?
One would think that knowing all the sordid details would actually make healing worse, but that has proven to be untrue. Healing takes place more easily when one knows the reality than merely imagining what might have taken place.
Be prepared for the story to come out in pieces, slowly, over time, but be prepared to reply to all of your partner’s questions. Working with a couples’ therapist would be helpful in this part of the healing process.
6. Address the issues that led to this
There is no excuse for cheating, but it will be helpful to air out the underlying issues that led to this infidelity.
To make a relationship work after cheating, drill down to what led to marital dissatisfaction. Fixing your relationship after cheating will involve working on those areas.
7. Be prepared to revisit the issue.
The partner who was cheated on may want to discuss and rediscuss what happened. You must remain open to their need to do so.
Do not say, “We have already gone over this a million times. Can’t you just drop it and move on?”
8. Accept that the healing takes time
The hurt and pain of having been cheated on do not follow a linear path.
Be willing to be patient with your partner as you progress with your paths towards healing. The average time for people to get over infidelity is one to two years.
9. Practice forgiveness
“To fix a relationship after I cheated, I had to forgive myself, and I had to ask my partner for forgiveness,” stated one cheater.
10. Redefine your new love landscape
Use the affair to leverage your relationship, propelling it into something better and more connected. Esther Perel, a noted couples and sex therapist, talks about a writing a second chapter in your marriage.
o rekindle a relationship after cheating, consider how much you love each other and what that means to you both. To move beyond the affair, examine ways to reshape and redefine your relationship, making it affair-proof.
That said if you are married to a chronic cheater, and this is not acceptable to you, leaving the marriage would be completely justifiable. No one should stay in a situation that causes them continual pain.
An affair is a defining point in a relationship. There will be hurt and anger. Both of you will feel like strangers for a while, but if your marriage is worth fighting for, there will be room for growth, discovery, and new intimacy.
Remember: good people can make bad decisions that have a deep impact. But the mistakes we make – and we all make them – impress in our core new ways of looking at things and truths that weren’t there before.
An affair is a traumatic time in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to define the relationship.
Use the time post-affair to put the relationship back together in a way that is stronger, more informed, wiser, and with an honesty and a love that is more sustainable and satisfying to both people involved.