The process of healing the damage wrought by infidelity begins and ends with restoring relationship trust. And let me be clear here: Relationship trust is not automatically rebuilt simply because the infidelity stops and stays stopped. Instead, relationship trust is rebuilt through consistent and sometimes painful actions engaged in over time. Cheaters need to make a commitment to living differently and abiding by certain relationship boundaries, the most important of which is ongoing rigorous honesty about everything, all the time, from here on out. This means that cheaters need to fearlessly tell the truth no matter what, even when they know it might be upsetting to their spouse.
When cheaters are rigorously honest, they tell their significant other about everything—not just the stuff that’s convenient or that they think will hurt the least. There are no more lies and no more secrets. With rigorous honesty, cheaters tell the truth and they tell it faster. They keep their mate in the loop about absolutely everything—spending, trips to the gym, gifts for the kids, issues at work, and, oh yeah, any interactions that their partner might not approve of. If their significant other would want to know it, they have to tell it. Period.
Cheaters also need to understand the difference between active and passive truth telling. And yes, there is a huge difference between the two. Active truth telling means cheaters get honest with their significant other without prompting. If there is something their partner might want to know, cheaters volunteer that information, and they do it sooner rather than later. They voluntarily tell the truth. With active truth telling, cheaters become fully transparent about every aspect of life. Their spouse doesn’t have to guess, ask probing questions, or play detective, because they are actively disclosing the truth no matter what.
Passive truth telling, on the other hand, forces betrayed partners to do the work. If a cheater is doing or has done something that his or her partner might be upset about, the cheater waits to be asked about it. Then, the cheater tells the truth about what was asked, but doesn’t volunteer other pertinent information. Instead, the cheater withholds this other information until he or she is specifically asked about it. Often, cheaters tell themselves that they’re not a liar because they answered their partner’s questions truthfully. However, failing to disclose is just another form of lying. For this reason, passive truth telling does not help to rebuild relationship trust.
So it’s just that easy, huh?
Well, no. Ongoing rigorous honesty is often difficult and painful. Cheaters don’t enjoy it, and their significant others don’t enjoy it either. However, it is a necessary part of healing.