Once you have gone down the road of an affair, there is bound to be a lot of pain all round, as well as a good helping of guilt. Most marriages don't make it back from an affair, but a small portion do. It takes a lot of work to rebuild trust and move forward from the hurt.
We don't always appreciate the value of a true relationship until we are about to lose it. If you have had an affair, you need to own up and take responsibility.
- End it! No halfway. No kind of. No being just friends. It has to end, or you will still be involved in it and will not be able to build back your partner's trust.
- Take responsibility. No one else got yourself in this mess but you. You need to own it in order to get past it.
- Figure out why you did it. Was your marriage failing? Were you looking for self-esteem? Were you repeating the pattern of a parent who cheated? In order to repair your current relationship and avoid another affair, you need to understand what drove your behavior in the first place.
- Be trustworthy. The biggest obstacle to your relationship surviving is the betrayal. You must be thoroughly open and honorable to build it back. You will need to do what your partner needs (like coming home right after work and breaking off all contact with the other person).
- Rebuilding trust after betrayal takes time. You will have to be patient. Don't expect your partner to just bounce back.
Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz , author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: Are the People in Your Life Hiding Something You Should Know? , is a regular contributor to The Today Show , MSNBC.com and O, The Oprah Magazine.