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Friday 14 December 2018

A matter of trust

When a partner betrays you it may seem like the end of the relationship is inevitable, but experts insist that with the right approach things can be salvaged, writes Sue Conley

So, Coleen is taking Wayne back. Cheryl didn't take back Ashley, Yvonne looked as if she might think about taking back Ronan but didn't, while Liz, who may be seen as the model for this sort of scandal, gave Hugh another chance.

And while none of the above suffered the kind of headline-splashing Hookergate that Hurley endured, they've all got one unfortunate thing in common: the men they loved cheated, and the public know about it.

It's bad enough for a couple to go through the inevitable challenges of marriage in private, but to go through them in public must be a terrible trial. Rooney's behaviour has undergone forensic examination: from the news that he'd had a threesome with two prostitutes, through his shockingly cold advice to his wife when said news broke ("These things happen. Deal with it"), to his desperate attempts to get her to talk to him, we seem to know everything, except of course whether things can be worked out.

Square One

It's not merely that their business is making the rounds of the blogs. The trust that one would have thought was an essential part of their relationship is gone. Is there any way of reclaiming it?

Liam Lally is the acting director of counselling for ACCORD. "The first challenge for any couple is to try to re- establish some sense of equilibrium, a way of being together that does not expose either party to any more trauma," he says.

"The expertise of a marriage/relationship counsellor is vital in the early stage. The counsellor can help the couple to re-establish a safe environment which enables them to begin the process of discovering whether or not the relationship can be saved."

Wayne himself is said to have suggested counselling, but with Coleen publicly stating that she'll never trust him again, you've got to wonder if they've any hope at all.

Lally, in a general sense, is more optimistic about a positive outcome. "There are many examples of people rebuilding relationships after one partner has been unfaithful," he says, and some of the factors that weigh in heavily in the outcome have to do with, as Lally puts it, "the quality of the relationship with the marriage partner in the first place, the level of commitment by both partners to rebuilding the relationship, the level of attachment of the unfaithful partner to the new partner, the degree of hurt felt by the injured partner", among others.

One wonders why some women take back their cheating husbands or partners, and why others don't. May it have anything to do with low self-esteem? That the woman involved may think so little of herself that she takes back the wanderer?

In fact, Lally believes that the opposite may be true. "The self-esteem of the injured party may be so undermined that s/he is unable to risk re-committing to the cheating partner," he says; so it may appear that Coleen has a healthy sense of herself, at least as far as her ability to re-commit with Wayne is concerned.

Accountability

She can't do it alone, however, and there are a number of things Wayne will have to do to convince her she's made an intelligent decision (see sidebar). Above all, he will have to be accountable to her for everything he does, every phone conversation he has, every email and text he receives, for the foreseeable future.

According to Beyondaffairs.com, "marriage is not about privacy or secrecy or control. It is about sharing your lives and ministering to each other's needs. And a primary need for the victimised spouse is complete transparency."

Awareness

The straying partner can no longer take the other for granted. This might be the key to rebuilding broken trust: a renewed, and hopefully increased, level of awareness that incorporates love, respect, interest and commitment.

"This increased level of awareness of each other's needs, expectations, vision for the future helps the couple to stay focused on each other as loving companions on life's journey, keenly aware of what has happened in the past and determined to avoid a similar fate in the future," says Lally.

We can all have our own opinions on the wisdom of taking back an unfaithful partner, but if nothing else, Coleen will have tried. It makes one wonder if a counsellor ever tells a couple there is no hope? Absolutely not, says Lally.

"The task of the counsellor is not to give advice or to direct the couple to his/her own particular solution," he explains. "The job of the counsellor is to help the couple to examine the nature of the difficulties they have as a couple, to explore all of the choices available to them and to help them to reach a resolution that is acceptable to both partners."

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