Love Repair After an Affair

Reviewed Sep 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Damages: hurt, hate, hesitation to trust, and holding onto resentment.
  • Repairs: remorse, restitution, rehabilitation, and request for forgiveness.

It takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

—Anonymous

Infidelity can be devastating to a relationship. Affairs deeply impair the emotional trust that lies at the core of love between two people. There is a way to repair the damage wrought by an affair, but it is not for the faint of heart or uncommitted.

When one partner has an affair, that person triggers the “Four Hs” in his mate:

  1. Hurt
  2. Hate
  3. Hesitation to trust
  4. Holding onto resentment

For example, if you had the affair, your partner felt hurt at having her trust betrayed. She also hated you for damaging trust, the most important element in sustaining love; she now has to worry whether you might be lying about other things as well. You devastated your partner and made her hesitant to trust you and risk being betrayed again. Many people who have been cheated on feel that even if they make it through one infidelity, they wouldn't be able to make it through another one. And finally, your partner is going to hold onto resentment, even if it is not intentional.

The corrective responses to the Four Hs are the “Four Rs”:

  1. Remorse
  2. Restitution
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Request for forgiveness

In order to heal the hurt, your partner needs to see and feel genuine remorse coming from you. This means looking directly at your partner and sincerely apologizing for the pain you have caused, expressing your sense of guilt and shame. Your apology must be simple and clear and not followed by excuses or, "but it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't…" You need to know how painful it was for your partner to feel that you were cheating and then lying.

Next, because of being hurt, your partner is going to seek restitution. As much as your partner’s hurt requires sincere remorse in order to heal, she may also need to express anger in order to resolve it. The best restitution is to allow your partner to verbally vent every bit of revulsion, disgust, disappointment, and hurt that you caused. Your partner needs to completely drain all the negative feelings your betrayal caused, and you need to listen without defending yourself. This outpouring of emotion will satisfy your partner’s need for revenge by making you feel as bad as you made her feel. It will also clear the air and free both of you to move on to the next step—rehabilitation.

Because your partner is hesitant to trust you again, she will need to see you actively rehabilitating yourself and learning how to cope with upsets in your life or marriage. You need to learn to express your frustration and disappointment before seeking an unhealthy outlet (like an affair). You also need to reach the point where you actually like your new and improved way of handling issues better than resorting to deceit.

Finally, because your partner is holding onto resentment, you will need to request forgiveness. This should follow a track record of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation for at least six months (and perhaps even as long as the length of the affair). Forgiveness must be earned.

One point to keep in mind: If you show a solid track record of at least six months of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation, request forgiveness and your partner doesn’t forgive you, you are no longer unforgivable—your partner is unforgiving.

If you do get a second chance, hold on to the lesson that this should teach you—it takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

By Mark Goulston, MD

Summary

  • Damages: hurt, hate, hesitation to trust, and holding onto resentment.
  • Repairs: remorse, restitution, rehabilitation, and request for forgiveness.

It takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

—Anonymous

Infidelity can be devastating to a relationship. Affairs deeply impair the emotional trust that lies at the core of love between two people. There is a way to repair the damage wrought by an affair, but it is not for the faint of heart or uncommitted.

When one partner has an affair, that person triggers the “Four Hs” in his mate:

  1. Hurt
  2. Hate
  3. Hesitation to trust
  4. Holding onto resentment

For example, if you had the affair, your partner felt hurt at having her trust betrayed. She also hated you for damaging trust, the most important element in sustaining love; she now has to worry whether you might be lying about other things as well. You devastated your partner and made her hesitant to trust you and risk being betrayed again. Many people who have been cheated on feel that even if they make it through one infidelity, they wouldn't be able to make it through another one. And finally, your partner is going to hold onto resentment, even if it is not intentional.

The corrective responses to the Four Hs are the “Four Rs”:

  1. Remorse
  2. Restitution
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Request for forgiveness

In order to heal the hurt, your partner needs to see and feel genuine remorse coming from you. This means looking directly at your partner and sincerely apologizing for the pain you have caused, expressing your sense of guilt and shame. Your apology must be simple and clear and not followed by excuses or, "but it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't…" You need to know how painful it was for your partner to feel that you were cheating and then lying.

Next, because of being hurt, your partner is going to seek restitution. As much as your partner’s hurt requires sincere remorse in order to heal, she may also need to express anger in order to resolve it. The best restitution is to allow your partner to verbally vent every bit of revulsion, disgust, disappointment, and hurt that you caused. Your partner needs to completely drain all the negative feelings your betrayal caused, and you need to listen without defending yourself. This outpouring of emotion will satisfy your partner’s need for revenge by making you feel as bad as you made her feel. It will also clear the air and free both of you to move on to the next step—rehabilitation.

Because your partner is hesitant to trust you again, she will need to see you actively rehabilitating yourself and learning how to cope with upsets in your life or marriage. You need to learn to express your frustration and disappointment before seeking an unhealthy outlet (like an affair). You also need to reach the point where you actually like your new and improved way of handling issues better than resorting to deceit.

Finally, because your partner is holding onto resentment, you will need to request forgiveness. This should follow a track record of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation for at least six months (and perhaps even as long as the length of the affair). Forgiveness must be earned.

One point to keep in mind: If you show a solid track record of at least six months of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation, request forgiveness and your partner doesn’t forgive you, you are no longer unforgivable—your partner is unforgiving.

If you do get a second chance, hold on to the lesson that this should teach you—it takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

By Mark Goulston, MD

Summary

  • Damages: hurt, hate, hesitation to trust, and holding onto resentment.
  • Repairs: remorse, restitution, rehabilitation, and request for forgiveness.

It takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

—Anonymous

Infidelity can be devastating to a relationship. Affairs deeply impair the emotional trust that lies at the core of love between two people. There is a way to repair the damage wrought by an affair, but it is not for the faint of heart or uncommitted.

When one partner has an affair, that person triggers the “Four Hs” in his mate:

  1. Hurt
  2. Hate
  3. Hesitation to trust
  4. Holding onto resentment

For example, if you had the affair, your partner felt hurt at having her trust betrayed. She also hated you for damaging trust, the most important element in sustaining love; she now has to worry whether you might be lying about other things as well. You devastated your partner and made her hesitant to trust you and risk being betrayed again. Many people who have been cheated on feel that even if they make it through one infidelity, they wouldn't be able to make it through another one. And finally, your partner is going to hold onto resentment, even if it is not intentional.

The corrective responses to the Four Hs are the “Four Rs”:

  1. Remorse
  2. Restitution
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Request for forgiveness

In order to heal the hurt, your partner needs to see and feel genuine remorse coming from you. This means looking directly at your partner and sincerely apologizing for the pain you have caused, expressing your sense of guilt and shame. Your apology must be simple and clear and not followed by excuses or, "but it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't…" You need to know how painful it was for your partner to feel that you were cheating and then lying.

Next, because of being hurt, your partner is going to seek restitution. As much as your partner’s hurt requires sincere remorse in order to heal, she may also need to express anger in order to resolve it. The best restitution is to allow your partner to verbally vent every bit of revulsion, disgust, disappointment, and hurt that you caused. Your partner needs to completely drain all the negative feelings your betrayal caused, and you need to listen without defending yourself. This outpouring of emotion will satisfy your partner’s need for revenge by making you feel as bad as you made her feel. It will also clear the air and free both of you to move on to the next step—rehabilitation.

Because your partner is hesitant to trust you again, she will need to see you actively rehabilitating yourself and learning how to cope with upsets in your life or marriage. You need to learn to express your frustration and disappointment before seeking an unhealthy outlet (like an affair). You also need to reach the point where you actually like your new and improved way of handling issues better than resorting to deceit.

Finally, because your partner is holding onto resentment, you will need to request forgiveness. This should follow a track record of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation for at least six months (and perhaps even as long as the length of the affair). Forgiveness must be earned.

One point to keep in mind: If you show a solid track record of at least six months of remorse, restitution, and rehabilitation, request forgiveness and your partner doesn’t forgive you, you are no longer unforgivable—your partner is unforgiving.

If you do get a second chance, hold on to the lesson that this should teach you—it takes years to build trust, and seconds to destroy it.

By Mark Goulston, MD

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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