Trauma counselling: Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

This is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, especially as this could be one of the most traumatic experiences where you feel alone and isolated. Other questions that we are often asked include:

  • How to have a healthy relationship after cheating.
  • How to trust someone again after cheating.
  • How to rebuild a relationship after cheating.
  • How to save a relationship after cheating.
  • Do you forgive a cheating boyfriend (or girlfriend)?
  • What to say to a cheating boyfriend (or girlfriend)?
  • What to do when your partner cheats on you but you still love them.

With so many questions, it is clear many people are not ready to abandon their loved ones. So why is it often taken as a fact of life that an affair must spell doom for the relationship?

How to fix a marriage after infidelity, and How to move forward in a relationship after cheating

It is important to act fast in light of an affair: what you do within the first few days is often crucial. 

Trauma counselling enables couples to create a space for talking about the pain in a manageable and open way, without ending the relationship. Establishing this space is very important in the immediate aftermath of the affair; it serves to ask the right questions immediately. In this early phase couples can be at each other’s throats; this is in some ways a natural response — but it is a self-destructive path.

Trauma counselling is about managing these emotions and asking the right questions — questions that re-establish lost connections and set the relationship on the pathway to resolution as early as possible. Only then, once the right questions are being asked, can we then make that all important second step:

Trauma counselling establishes rhythms of connection and intimacy

Now that healthy, honest dialogue is established, the next logical step is to establish what we call rhythms of connection. The importance of these rhythms have been understood by psychologists for many years. They are all about synchronisation. Sometimes even healthy dialogue may appear not to be working; often this is a result of each partner arguing from different moral matrices. That is, they often fail to see each other’s perspective. Rhythms of connection are important to bridge these perspectives together.

Once these connections are established, we can
journey together to analyse the traumatic event not as an obstacle, but an opportunity: a gift to help them grow to new levels of connection and intimacy. A part of this process may involve, after a careful analysis of the situation, talking to the children (if any), and even relatives and friends if necessary.

What to expect from our relationship trauma counselling

In the immediate aftermath of the traumatic experince we provide intensive sessions that usually last around 2 – 3 days. These sessions exist to:

  • Establish an honest, open, healthy dialogue.
  • Open the channels of what we call ‘rhythms of connection’.
  • Once the channels are open, we then sit down and ‘journey’ with couples in an additional three hour session.

In our experience, a struggling couple caught up in an affair will need at least six months of intense work and guidance in order to work through the pain and have the greatest success. Remember, the biggest mistake a couple can make is to try the journey on their own out of shame or any other reason. Often such attempts are misguided and have a high failure rate. With Couples Help, our experienced therapists and counsillors will be there for the both of you, and will help you find rebirth, and prosperity. 

If you want to repair the affair, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can start a healthy dialogue before we get to work.

For more information on all things to do with couples, marriage, sex, and more, please check out our blog. We have an ultimate guide on marriage counselling and marital status in South Africa, including Pretoria and Johannesburg.

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MTh – Theology and Pastoral care
Clinical Imago Therapist | Enneagram Therapist
Spiritual Director, Centre for Spirituality; University of Pretoria


Mosaiek Wholeness Centre, Daniellestraat 1, Fairland 2030, Postbox 1658, Gauteng, Suid-Afrika