Is it possible to rebuild trust after your partner has been unfaithful? Are you contemplating leaving? Will things ever be the same? After an affair these may be some of the questions that you are asking yourself. One thing is certain: learning to love again is a slow process.
Doctors John and Julie Gottman have created a thorough healing method to help couples through recovery after an affair. Regaining trust comes with a set of challenges for both partners, but there is reason to be hopeful. The unfaithful partner must be willing to put the relationship first and demonstrate trustworthiness through words and actions. Trust is an action-it is more about what your partner does than about what they say.
What does Affair Recovery look like in sessions?
The Gottman Institute has come out with a structured way to help recommit healthy, trusting relationships after an affair has occurred; this is known as the “Gottman Trust Revival Method.” This method was founded in Dr. Gottman’s lab which has proven results confirming its effectiveness.
Phase 1: Atone
The partner who has been unfaithful must first express remorse. Rebuilding a relationship after infidelity is not possible without this action, according to Dr. Gottman. He writes that, “The wounded partner will feel the stirrings of new faith only after multiple proofs of trustworthiness. Atonement cannot occur if the cheater insists that the victim take partial blame for the affair.”
Honesty & Full Disclosure
Couples that are healing from an affair need to gain insight into their relationship and what went wrong with accusing or becoming critical. It is normal to feel an array of emotions such as anger, betrayal, or hurt; confronting the issue is the best way to regain trust and intimacy.
In order to do this, the partner who has been unfaithful must become more aware of their vulnerabilities and take a deeper look into their reasons for returning to their partner. An example, a partner realizes they have been unhappy for a long time in their relationship and wanted to have a more active sex life without blaming the other partner for being distracted or for not initiating sex more often.
There Won’t Be a Second Chance
The person who is unfaithful must put an end to the affair and end all communication with them. The no “second chance” rule seems harsh, but it is a large disincentive for straying.
Phase 2: Attune
Attunement is only possible when the couple moves ahead with forgiveness and is ready to rebuild their relationship with blaming. During this phase you will learn how to handle conflict so that is does not overwhelm the relationship. Another critical aspect of Phase 2 if that the unfaithful partner must decide to make their relationship a priority. As part of the commitment to cherish each other, the couple goes into public with a state of their relationship and lets people who are close to them know that they are recommitted and are working to rebuild trust. This establishes that the new relationship is real and is asking for their support.
Phase 3: Attach
In short, the final phase of this model is about being willing to reconnect with your by risking physical intimacy. Dr. Gottman explains that, “Without the presence of sexual intimacy that is pleasurable to both, the relationship can’t begin again.” Sexual intimacy is founded on emotional connection, which serves as a barrier to future distractions outside of the relationship. The key to maintaining pleasurable and meaningful sex life is intimate conversation.