Ask the therapist: After my wife cheated, how can I trust her again?

In the “Consulting Therapist” series, I will answer all your questions about mental health and psychology. Whether you are struggling with a mental health condition, coping with anxiety about living conditions, or just seeking the insights of a therapist, you can submit a question. Please pay attention to my answers to your questions in the Healthy Mind newsletter every Friday.

A reader asked

My wife cheated last year. I can forgive her, but I’m not sure if I can trust her. I always suspected that she was cheating again. Sometimes, I will check her profile carefully to make sure there is no evidence that she is cheating. I feel distressed, but if she cheats once, isn’t she likely to cheat again?

Amy answered

No, she may not cheat again because of previous cheating. But if you don’t trust her, your relationship won’t be healthy—nor will you. It is important to resolve your mistrust so that you can move on.

Never forget to forgive

You mentioned that you can forgive what happened to your wife. Forgiveness means slightly different things to different people, and I’m not sure what it means to you.

Healthy forgiveness is not about saying, “Everything you do to me is good.” Rather, it is about saying, “What you did to me is not good, but I will not waste my mental energy and be cherished by it. Anger and resentment.”

Of course, letting go of anger is easier said than done. This is usually a conscious decision that you must make and re-decision over time.

If you want to get rid of an affair, forgiveness is necessary. However, trust is also an essential part. You have reason not to believe your wife. She betrayed you before, and you don’t want to be hurt anymore. However, if you do not trust her, it is impossible to maintain a healthy relationship with your wife.

Solve the problem

The details of this matter or how you resolve it are not yet clear. But no matter what happens, you must solve this problem-although it may be painful and uncomfortable.

An affair is likely to be a sign of a potential problem. It is important to deal with potential problems so that you can be confident that your wife is unlikely to cheat again. Some affair results from loneliness and emotional disconnection in relationships. Others start out because someone has self-esteem problems, and having an affair makes them believe that they are attractive again.

It is important for you and your wife to explore the root cause of her astray. This is not an excuse for her. Rather, it is about developing an explanation. When you understand why it happened, you and your wife can ensure that you are building a healthier relationship and moving forward.

Your wife’s response

You didn’t mention your wife’s reaction to this incident. Will she regret what she has done? Will she be responsible for her actions? As you progress, does she invest in improving relationships?

If she blames you or minimizes your pain for her choice, you have a good reason not to trust her anymore.

It is unclear whether she has contact with someone who has an affair with her. Maybe you don’t trust her because this matter has something to do with a colleague she meets often. Or maybe you have discovered that she is still texting people who have an affair with her.

The important thing is that she can be honest with you in any contact she has with other people. If she lied and kept the secret, you would not be able to trust her again. Most of the pain that often accompanies an affair stems from dishonesty that occurs. Therefore, it is vital that she is willing to be open and transparent now.

Your response

Peeking at your wife’s phone or checking her wallet when she is unattended will only damage your relationship even more. But it is understandable for you to do so. She betrayed you, it hurts. You are now trying to protect yourself from being hurt like that again.

Every time you check her, if you don’t find any evidence that she is cheating, you may get a temporary relief. However, your relief may be short-lived, and you may find yourself soon to spy and examine her again.

However, the constant search for evidence about whether she has derailed again will exhaust you.

Interrogating her or checking her belongings will only further alienate the two of you.

It also doesn’t help you trust her. In fact, you spend all your energy on seeing her. This is the fact that you don’t trust her. This will cause your distrust to become even greater. Your time is best spent healing your broken heart and building relationships.

Get professional help

The passage of time is unlikely to heal your relationship. If you don’t trust your wife now, unless something changes, you are unlikely to trust her in the future.

Tell your wife that you are having a hard time, and suggest that you go to marriage counseling. Talking to a licensed mental health professional can help you solve this problem.

You know, some couples come out of extramarital affairs and say that their relationship is stronger than before. Therefore, it is possible to develop a healthy relationship again. But it sounds like you may need some professional help to get there.