Dear Therapist, 

I caught my husband cheating on me last year. It was devastating in so many ways. Honestly, I didn’t know if I’d ever get past it and be able to trust him again. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been doing everything I can to heal and move forward as we have two young kids, and family is so important to me. I believe he’s genuinely remorseful, and I have seen him put in the work in couples therapy. 

But when I found out about the cheating, I lost so much respect and love for him. I used to think he was such a good man, but now I just feel like he fooled me. I don’t know if I can ever see him in the same way I did before he cheated. Is it possible to regain respect for him now that I’ve seen him at his worst? 


Feeling Blinded and Betrayed


Dear Blinded and Betrayed, 

First and foremost, I want to extend my heartfelt empathy for the pain and betrayal you’ve experienced. Discovering infidelity can shatter the foundation of trust and security within a relationship, leaving behind a trail of hurt and confusion. Yet, despite the devastation that infidelity brings to a relationship, many couples choose to work through it and rebuild their connection. 

It makes sense that you’re grappling with complex emotions following such a profound breach of trust. Rebuilding a relationship after infidelity is an incredibly challenging journey, one that requires courage, commitment, and unwavering dedication from both partners. By choosing to stay and rebuild with your partner, you are demonstrating an incredible amount of strength. Despite this strength, this choice can carry a stigma of weakness. 

It’s essential to grieve the loss of the relationship you once knew while remaining open to the possibility of growth and transformation. Esther Perel, author and couples therapist, shared in a 2015 Ted talk

“Every affair will redefine a relationship and every couple will determine what the legacy of the relationship will be… Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second marriage together?” 

In this question, Perel acknowledges the great loss that you’ve experienced. You are not married to the same man that you originally said “I do” to. The marriage you thought you were in has been taken away from you. But she also offers hope. You and your husband have a new opportunity to grow together from this trauma and build a new marriage that is more honest, satisfying, and deeply connected.  

Your husband’s remorse and efforts to repair the damage through couples therapy are positive signs that he recognizes the gravity of his actions and is willing to invest in rebuilding your relationship. It takes immense courage to confront the pain caused by infidelity and actively engage in the healing process. However, it’s important to acknowledge that healing is a nonlinear process, and it’s natural for doubts and questions to arise along the way.

Trust and respect go hand in hand. If you are struggling to gain respect for your husband, it may be because you have not yet rebuilt enough safety and trust to let your protective walls down. To work on rebuilding trust, you’ll need to address and discuss the specific qualities or behaviors that cause concern or distress. Consider what boundaries and relational needs would be helpful to communicate to your husband to help you achieve a greater sense of trust and safety. 

As you rebuild your relationship, it’s crucial to acknowledge and celebrate your and your husband’s emerging qualities like perseverance, humility, honesty, self-reflection, emotional attunement, and improved listening skills. By acknowledging, reinforcing, and communicating the emerging positive attributes, you create opportunities for growth, appreciation, and reconnection. And while staying in the moment can be incredibly difficult for someone recovering from betrayal trauma, it’s essential for fostering genuine connection and intimacy. 

If you find yourself struggling to break free from the grip of past hurts and resentments, you may consider exploring therapy that is specifically designed to heal trauma and stuck memories like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR therapy can help reduce distress attached to traumatic memories and decrease intrusive thoughts or images associated with them.

Through your process of healing and reconciliation, be sure to name the harm that has been done so you can actively work toward forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about condoning, excusing, or even forgetting hurtful actions but rather releasing the burden of resentment, reconnecting with your core self, and reclaiming your emotional well-being.

Remember that rebuilding a relationship after infidelity is a journey fraught with challenges and uncertainties. It requires courage, patience, and a willingness to confront discomfort and uncertainty head-on. By prioritizing honesty, empathy, and mutual respect, you create the foundation for a healthier, more resilient partnership built on a renewed sense of trust and understanding.

Ultimately, it’s your choice and journey to forgive, respect, and trust your husband. It’s okay to take things one day at a time and honor your needs and boundaries. Above all, trust in your own resilience and capacity for growth as you navigate the complexities of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

If you’re interested in individual therapy, we are available for in-person sessions at our Charlotte, NC office or virtually for residents of NC and SC.  

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