Discovering a betrayal, in any relationship, can be a profoundly painful and draining experience. A betrayal can lead to the breakdown of a relationship. However, it doesn’t need to. To learn how to process betrayal and look at ways to rebuild, keep on reading. I fully recognize betrayal is a deeply personal and touchy subject, and opinions are divided, but I felt the topic needed to be addressed for those looking to repair and rebuild.
Couples and partners who go through tough times, betrayal included, often come out the other end stronger. Yes, this may sound cliche but what I have found is it forced couples to talk about everything they avoided. Couples who chose to try and repair after betrayal, tended to follow the four steps shared below.
1. Stop Associating the Betrayal with Hurt
For a while after the betrayal, the events are sure to continue to cross your mind. Sometimes it may even feel as though this is beyond possible. The first step in healing, however, is to begin viewing the betrayal in another light. You must think of the situation as one that you’re actively, authentically and committed to working to repair. It’s an opportunity to reevaluate your relationship, understand what isn’t working and rebuild an even stronger foundation than before. While it may (and will) be difficult, it’s important to begin associating the betrayal with the opportunity to grow and see it in a different light. I know what you're thinking, but trust me, 'an opportunity to grow' will keep you much more open for processing.
2. Fully and Authentically Forgive
I recently read that the act of forgiving does not mean the acceptance of wrong behaviour. Instead, it means that you have detached yourself from the painful feelings that come with the wrong behaviour. It’s the commitment to see the best in the other person and pardon the transgression for not only their sake, but for your own. I really like this concept of forgiveness and feel it applies to this particular healing process really well. In order to move forward and heal with your partner, in a true partnership, you need to forgive the betrayal and release the negative feelings it has brought. I firmly believe, without forgiveness, there is zero room to start to rebuild trust.
3. Rebuild Trust, One Day at a Time
Building and maintaining trust, in any relationship, is something that requires work and effort every single day. When a relationship is recovering from a betrayal, it can feel as though the trust must be rebuilt from ground zero. When this feels true, I encourage you to take it one day at a time. Trust will not be rebuilt or repaired overnight, but any steps – even small ones – are positive progress. Whether it’s being home at the time you say you will or your partner sharing more authentically about his or her day, the trust will rebuild over time if both partners are committed. Find out how trust is built for each of you, remembering it may look different for each.
4. Leave the Past in the Past
While it may be tempting at times, it’s important to not use the past as ammunition against your partner. As your relationship is healing, and well into the future, it’s important to remember to leave the past in the past. Who you were five years ago does not define who you are today. What happened last week or last year does not define what will happen today or tomorrow. While it may sound like a simple concept in theory, I understand that it can be more difficult than that when it actually comes down to exercising in real life. So when you are trying to heal from betrayal and you find yourself wanting to 'throw it in their face', take a deep breath and walk away from the conversation. You can even say something like, "I feel like I want to say something really hurtful to you right now but I am committed to rebuilding our relationship so I'm going to go for a walk". You will find the language that works for you.
The key to overcoming betrayal is to be truly, authentically and deeply committed to the outcome. If you have both decided to work together to make it right, it is possible.
To your authenticity,