Infidelity will not only have a profound impact on your relationship but your entire life. You will find yourself shaken to the core and your trust in others lacking. Recovering from infidelity is an ever harder process, because you must rethink more than your marriage. In order to overcome infidelity and grow from it, it is important to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with your partner. Boundaries help to create a sense of safety and security in your relationship and can help rebuild trust between you and your partner.
What are Boundaries?
When you think of a boundary, you may visualize a hard line, like a fence or a wall, that can’t be crossed. In relationships, the limits and rules someone establishes to protect their physical and emotional well-being, agency, and individuality act in the same manner. While some boundaries can be soft and others hard, all boundaries are essential to a healthy relationship.
Here are some examples of common boundaries:
- Personal space: This may include physical space, such as the need for alone time or personal space in the home, as well as emotional space, such as the need for privacy or personal time to process emotions.
- Social boundaries: Often sets the limit as to the amount of time one spends with friends and family or may set expectations for how a partner acts in social settings.
- Emotional boundaries: These boundaries involve establishing expectations around emotional support, communication, and the expression of feelings.
- Physical touch and public displays of affection: The frequency of physical touch, sexual activity, and affection at home and out among each other’s social circles.
- Communication: Involves the ways you communicate, the things you talk about, and when to discuss them.
Why are Boundaries Important During Infidelity Recovery?
While establishing boundaries should come before the betrayal of your trust and love, it is safe to say that often, it is due to a lack of boundaries that such acts happen. Creating and maintaining personal boundaries in a relationship is a continuous process that encourages a willingness for tolerance and cooperation. Thus, if you are recovering from infidelity, building new boundaries and holding true to them is important.
Here are some ways in which boundaries are important in infidelity recovery:
- Establishment of clear expectations: When your partner has been unfaithful, it’s important to establish expectations about what they can and cannot do, as well as what is and isn’t accepted in the relationship.
- Healing wounds: Boundaries help create consistency and helps you check in with one another. This can aid in building up a sense of security and heal your trauma.
- Protecting emotional and physical well-being: Due to the shock of learning about your partner’s unfaithfulness, you may have some emotional triggers. Boundaries can help establish which topics or behaviors could lead to strong emotional reactions from you.
- Providing a sense of control: You may feel like you have lost control of your entire life after infidelity. Boundaries give you a sense of empowerment, because you can essay your agency and emotions more clearly.
What Are Some Boundaries to Have When Recovering from an Affair?
Now that we have discussed the importance of building boundaries for infidelity recovery, let’s discuss some lines in the sand that you need to draw immediately. These boundaries are crucial to the success of your recovery.
Your Partner Must Cut Off Any Association With The Affair Partner
Any connection your partner keeps with their affair partner is a threat to your recovering relationship. No matter what kind of connection remains, it must be severed. First off, doing so shows you that your partner is indeed willing to move on and correct their mistakes. It is a display that speaks volumes about how much they care about you. Removing that distraction from their life is critical.
Furthermore, recovering from infidelity is going to require emotional energy and attention from you both. If your partner is maintaining contact with the other person, it is only going to get in the way of what you are trying to achieve.
But how far must your partner go to remove all contact with their affair partner? As far as it takes. This may even mean that they have to leave their job and start over elsewhere. When it comes to boundaries, this must be a hard one that you maintain.
You Must Do Whatever You Can to Feel Safe
After an affair, your relationship is going to feel volatile. You may want to end it all that day you find out about your partner’s betrayal, but you can’t. Instead, you need to feel safe. Again, this is a boundary that cannot falter. Your safety and stability comes first. If you must take your children and book a hotel room in the next town over just for a night of peace and tranquility, you do that. If you have to make an emergency call to your couples therapist, you do that, too.
Later on, you are allowed to ask your partner and others to do things that make you feel secure, because the betrayal was so great, that it will take time for you to feel safe again.
Only You Get to Decide How Intimate You Wish to Be and When
Your partner has no say in how intimate you want to be with them after their affair, be it sexual or other forms of intimacy. While sex is very important to a relationship or marriage, feeling trust and love for your partner is much more necessary. After the affair, you are going to be going through a whirlwind of emotions and may even doubt how your partner feels about you. This is not the time to have sex. It’s not the time to say “I love you,” when you are still so hurt. Those things should only be done when the emotions and motivations behind them are 100% real. Moreover, you should want to be do it, not feel coerced into it.
If intimacy triggers you, don’t do it. Tell your partner to stay away until you are ready. If they are willing to proceed with infidelity recovery, they will find a healthy way to bide their time and prove to you that they are worthy of your love.
Your Partner Must Be Honest and Transparent For as Long as It Takes
When unfaithful partner has broken your trust so completely, it is going to take months or years before you believe in them again. It’s important for the unfaithful partner to communicate openly and honestly throughout the infidelity recovery process, and to be patient and understanding as you process your emotions and work through the pain of the betrayal.
This may mean that you ask to see their emails, text messages, and browser history. They must agree. You can also ask that they limit interactions with the opposite sex, if it makes you feel better. You can tell them to stay home instead of going on an overnight trip with friends, too. Do not be afraid to demand full transparency, because you must trust if you wish to rebuild your relationship.
Learn to Create Healthy Boundaries With Couples Academy
By establishing and respecting healthy boundaries, couples can work towards healing and rebuilding trust after an infidelity. If you are attempting to recovery from an affair, you do not have to do it alone. Couples Academy is here to help. With our team of marriage counselors and experience in infidelity recovery, we can help you rebuild trust and love. Give us a call today or fill out the contact form for more information about our services.