If you are the one whose been unfaithful, and you've said everything that you can say to your partner about how sorry you are, honestly, you might be getting frustrated. Thoughts of "why can't they just move-on" or "how long can I be punished for this?" are probably swirling around in your head.
Here's the thing, talk is cheap. Yes, I know I've said that you have to express true remorse, and that is true, but it's just part of the process of healing . Now it's time to put your money where your mouth is.
At the bottom of all of this is the nagging feeling from your partner that a) you're not as sorry as you say you are, and/or b) you're going to do this again. One of the ways to give your partner relief is to be as open and honest as possible, the other is to become the protector of the relationship.
What does it mean to become the protector? It means that your partner need to see you actively treasure your relationship as if it is the most precious thing in your life. You need to protect him or her from any opportunity where they feel that they are not in first place. You need to acknowledge your partner, and your relationship with your partner, at every turn. Your partner needs to feel that this relationship is as important to you as it is to them. They also need to see that your A+, #1 priority is this relationship, and that your primary task is to move forward as the guardian of your relationship.
What does this mean? What does this look like? Well, ask your partner. Say to them "I want you to understand that I know that I took our relationship for granted. I also know that in order to move us forward and for our relationship to heal, I need to become the guardian of our relationship, I need to protect our relationship at all costs. To me, that looks like (fill in the blank), what does it look like to you?" This is a conversation that will probably involve some negotiating, and it may help to get some professional assistance in this area. Neither of you should feel like a doormat, or completely unsatisfied by the result. In the end, you and your partner will truly know how committed you are to saving the relationship and moving forward.
Coming Soon: Part 4: Bring Back Your Sense of Self-Worth
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling in Oaklyn, NJ. In-person and online appointments available.