Heartbreak

How To Help Your Partner Stop Cheating (When They're Truly Ready To Change)

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lovely Black couple outdoors, close-up, her head on his shoulder

Finding out your partner has cheated on you ranks right up there with the worst things that can happen to a person. It can often be as traumatic as a death. 

That's because something did die — your previous understanding of the life you led and the person you were with.

But that doesn’t mean your marriage or relationship has to die.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Keep A Man Completely, Utterly Faithful To You

Let’s be clear, you cannot control the choices or behavior of another person. If that person is dishonest or immature in the way they choose to handle an issue in your relationship, there’s nothing much you can do about that.

But, let’s say your partner is behaving as if he’s truly remorseful for what he’s done and agreed to go to marriage counseling.

He’s broken up with the other woman and showed you the letter or made the phone call in front of you. Maybe he lets you go through his phone, so you can see that there are no inappropriate messages. 

He's being open, and he's clearly ready for change — and so are you. 

What can you do to maximize the chance that this never happens again? 

(Note: I'm using the pronoun "he" here, but as we all know, anyone can be a cheater!)

Here are 6 ways you can support a cheating partner who wants to change. 

1. First, never use underhanded tactics.

What this means is that, even though your partner once made it clear you couldn’t trust him, don’t do anything that makes you look untrustworthy, too.

No telling the in-laws or your parents behind his back in order to get revenge by exposing his shame. No asking friends or family to lobby him to stay with you.

That also means no indirect references to the fact that you two are having problems and no running around telling others that your partner is "depressed" or "crazy."

Decide together what information you want and need to have public, taking into consideration the dignity of your entire family along with your need for support. 

2. Understand what was going on between the two of you just prior to the cheating.

This can be tough.

While it is never your fault that your partner made the choice to cheat, there are some circumstances that might have triggered him to do so.

Your partner may express feelings that may be hard for you to hear or issues he was unhappy about. But it is important you work together to heal the rift. 

This is where a good marriage counselor is invaluable. You need to be able to understand all the problems that were brewing between you without feeling blamed.

If you don’t understand all the issues and nothing gets resolved … then all the conditions that primed your marriage for the cheating could still be there. Definitely not the goal!

3. Try to calm down.

This one can be tough. You might feel as if the affair is restarting every time the phone rings. You might worry every time you see him on Facebook. It’s understandable!

But, at some point, you have to decide whether to extend your trust to him again or not.

Listen hard in therapy, ask your therapist what they think, and try to go with your gut and not wishful or fearful thinking.

If you decide to extend trust, then you have to stop bringing the affair up after a time.

Of course, you want to know some details. You’re trying to understand his mindset and what his feelings were, and that’s good.

Once you and your therapist believe you have a good understanding of the situation, it’s time to stop mentioning it.

And, if your partner is giving you free access to his email and his phone and doing everything he can to prove to you that you can trust him, you have to stop accusing him of cheating again, if that’s become your habit.

Actions such as these can, in some cases, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your partner may begin to feel as if he can’t put a foot right with you anymore, and he may stop trying.

It can be a delicate dance to find that point where you feel adequately understood and reassured, and he doesn’t feel accused or badgered. This is why you don’t want to try this without a good therapist!

RELATED: The 3 Big Reasons Men Cheat (And How To Prevent It)

4. Don’t obsess about the other person or compare yourself.

It can be hard to do this because, of course, you're thinking she must be younger, sexier, or better-looking. But, I can tell you firsthand that, when I was the other woman, none of this was the issue!

What I provided was a listening ear. When I saw that this guy still watched his wife’s every little twitch at home and was obsessed about what she was thinking, I knew what he really needed was her and not me.

Given the choice, most men would much rather find what they need at home, with you.

If a guy can have the friendship, the sex, and the open sharing of emotions and support with you, their long-term wife or partner, and probably the mother of his children, too, that’s what he would much rather have.

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Find your way back to those things, and don’t worry about the sex, or your "thunder thighs", or whatever.

The truth is that a good friendship and a close and loving bond is what makes the best sexual attraction and sex life because what’s powering that love is uniquely you — your body, your life.

5. Know that you’re going to think about this a lot.

You might think, for a very long time, even, that your dreams are shattered and your marriage will never be the same.

But you’ve got to look at how this might be a good thing.

If someone cheated, your dream of what your life was had a lot of flaws. Your ideas about who each other was were in some way not real.

An affair, wrenching as it might be, forces all your cards on the table. Now you have to gut it out and be real with each other.

And the love you can have after that can be so much better, now that you’ve faced the very worst and said all the things you were afraid to say.

So many couples who’ve survived an affair end up saying things like, "I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It was so hard! It was the worst. But the marriage and partnership we have now are priceless, and we wouldn’t have it if this hadn’t happened."

6. Get your hands on some good relationship books.

Harville Hendrix, Terrence Real, John Gottman, and Pia Mellody are some classic names in the field. Their books on relationships make excellent reading.

And in this day and age, so many stories about people’s personal experiences with affair recovery are available on the internet. Look up those who’ve survived an affair and feel their marriages are better for it.

So many of these are inspiring readings that can help get you through the times when you feel you can’t go on. Use the search bar on this platform or Google "affair recovery."

You can also find some excellent videos on YouTube like Family Tree Life Coaching and Jerry Wise Relationship Systems.

You are so very brave to be doing this work. Don’t give up!

RELATED: 10 Signs He Regrets Cheating On You (And Still Loves You)

P.D. Reader studies astrology and runs Struggling In Or With An Affair? on Medium.

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