Hidden Wounds: Intimacy and Trust after Infidelity


Infidelity within a relationship can be very damaging for both partners. There are many reasons why individuals step out in their relationships. It could be feelings of neglect, disconnection, selfishness, etc. As a result of this relational injury and betrayal there are things that get lost such as trust, connection and intimacy. Based on my work with couples, lack of intimacy and communication have been some of the primary reasons why individuals had affairs. I want to note that intimacy is not just sex. It is also emotional connection, vulnerability, affection, and being able to share your feelings with your partner. When there is an infidelity, intimacy can be severed between the couple or sometimes completely disconnected. As a result of infidelity, there are couples who choose to part ways and there are others that choose to continue to work things out. If you as a couple decide to stay together, here are some things that both parties need to do to re-establish the relationship:

The Individual who had the Affair:

  • Take accountability for YOUR actions

  • Listen to your partner and reassure them consistently

  • Do trustworthy behaviors consistently

  • Be genuine

  • Sincerely apologize for the pain that has been caused

  • Do not blame them for why you cheated rather use “I” messages to allow them to understand your process.

  • Connect with your partner to understand their pain and feelings as a result of the affair.

  • Think about your contribution to the nature of the relationship.

The Individual who got Injured

  • Evaluate if you’re continuing with the relationship out of punishing the cheating partner or for the feelings of wanting to stay together.

  • Allowing yourself to develop trust again for your partner as they display trustworthy behaviors.

  • Allow yourself the time and space to heal from the relationship and seek out reassurance from your partner when needed

  • Make an attempt to connect with your partner and share your thoughts and feelings.

  • Note that you are not accountable for your partner committing infidelity; it was their choice to make. However, it is important to have a conversation about what could have occurred between you and your partner to cause the decision of infidelity to be made.

  • Make explicit the things that you need from your partner to help you in the process of being secure and trusting.

These interactions with one another can begin the healing process. It is important to think about the areas that need strengthening in the relationship. It is the responsibility of both parties to be their best selves. These actions can begin the process of re-creating intimacy and building a foundation for a healthy and prosperous relationship.

“An affair delivers a power punch that can serve as a wake up call and a catalyst for improvement in your marriage” ~ Margaret Anne Speak

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