When there has been a cover-up to a transgression, the lies and denials can do much more damage to the integrity of the relationship than the violation itself. Even if the offense is never revealed, there can still be great harm done to the foundation of the relationship.
Trust is inevitably sacrificed even when secrets go undetected. Most, but not all betrayals and acts of deceit can be healed. While there is no generic template to apply to these situations, there are some guidelines that can facilitate the recovery process and help get your relationship back on track.
Acknowledge your actions to your partner before they find out., and the sooner the better. The longer you have been living a lie, the deeper the damage, the more difficult the possibility of a full recovery, and the longer the healing process takes. Acknowledging the transgression before your partner affirms it from another source creates a higher level of trust than waiting until you’ve been found out.
Commit to Honesty
Commit yourself to zero tolerance for dishonesty in your relationship. Even after you’ve successfully demonstrated your commitment, don’t be surprised if your partner needs a lot of evidence that you are trustworthy before they’ll be ready to believe anything you say. This will take time and will require patience on your part.
This ties a little bit into being honest, but don’t be defensive in response to your partner’s need for information. They need to make sure that you aren’t withholding anything else and they probably have a lot of questions that only you can answer. Guide yourself with the question “Is this information necessary for the healing of our relationship?”
Keep in mind that your intention in this process is to communicate in a way that will restore good will. It’s not necessary to give details that will be unnecessarily inflammatory. Try to see the questions as an opportunity for you to demonstrate the kind of truth telling that your partner needs to see in order to begin to trust you again. Even if the questions seem to be repetitive or unnecessary, your partner needs answers in order to come to terms with the situation.
Take ownership of the truth and what you’ve done. Avoid explanations, rationalizations, excuses, or justifications for your behavior. There will be a time to view things from a bigger picture when your partner may be more curious about what conditions in the relationship were contributing to the situation, but that likely won't come until later.
While this process is helpful to follow, it is completely normal and encouraged to seek the help of a professional. Often a relationship therapist will be able to provide a safe environment for both parties to openly express concerns and help keep the conversation on track. Committing to seeing a professional also shows a renewed commitment to your partner that you will do whatever it takes to save, and heal, your relationship.
Looking for Answers?
Intensive Therapy for Restoring Trust
Ever wondered if you and your partner can fast-track the healing process after infidelity? The Relationship Center of Colorado offers a Couples Retreat that is a weekend of intensive couples therapy.