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UF/IFAS expert: People can still reconcile a relationship, even after infidelity

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If a romantic partner has cheated, it can feel like a gut punch, but University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts say couples can still salvage their relationships. In some cases, it may mean starting a new relationship with your partner.

“In a sense, you can tear it down and rebuild together from the ground up, but this time from stronger foundations like solid communication, using common language and maybe couple’s training that can teach you what to watch out for from the start,” said Victor Harris, a UF/IFAS associate professor of family, youth and community sciences.

“There is ample evidence that — if both partners are committed and willing to grow and change — in a number of cases, couples who stay in the relationship and try to work it out, can overcome infidelity and rebuild their relationship,” Harris said.

As we approach Valentine’s Day – and many people think about love and romance — Harris says partners can still reconcile, even after one has strayed. Harris has years of expertise in the area of couple relationships. He’s written a UF/IFAS Extension curriculum called, “Before You Tie the Knot” – for couples considering marriage — and he runs a UF/IFAS Extension program called Smart Couples.

Smart Couples, which started in 2016, will continue for the next three-plus years, serving clients in Alachua, Duval, Manatee, Palm Beach and Santa Rosa counties. UF/IFAS Extension chose those counties because they represent a rural and urban cross-section of Florida’s demographics, Harris said.

Smart Couples classes can help couples rebuild friendship, trust, commitment and love, Harris said. The classes can also help couples take steps to safeguard their relationships against future infidelity by participating in connection and love rituals that enhance their closeness and positive bonds.

If partners talk to each other about their definition of “cheating,” and come to a mutual understanding of what the word means, they might be able to avert infidelity before it happens, Harris said. After each person knows these parameters, people faced with temptation should ask themselves: “What would my partner consider cheating?”

When someone cheats, it’s important to remember that we’re all human, Harris said.

“Sometimes circumstances, paired with weakness or impaired judgment, can lead a person to an action that does not reflect what they truly want or how they truly feel,” he said.

Harris offers these tips for keeping your relationship alive, even after someone has cheated:

  • Communication is key. Discuss what went wrong and where, preferably with a counselor present.
  • Mutual choice. Partners must want to find a way to re-establish trust after it has been broken.
  • A couple’s recovery from infidelity is likely to take time and work.
  • Learn more. Invest in learning more about what healthy relationships look like and how to rebuild the friendship, trust, commitment and love.

For more information, please visit www.smartcouples.org.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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