If you're working to heal from an affair and finding that your partner (the one who strayed) does not want to do anything to increase transparency to rebuild trust, or is still talking to the affair partner, then this article is for you!
First of all, let me say... If you’re in this spot, I am so sorry. It’s sad and it’s painful. It happens sometimes and we should definitely talk about. Let me tell you Amy’s story. . .
Amy went on a romantic vacation with her husband as they were trying to rebuild their marriage. The vacation was okay, but she felt like her husband was only somewhat present. It seemed like he was trying to reconnect with her, but not very much.
Amy noticed that her husband would go on long walks by himself, had his phone locked a lot of the time, and was texting in the middle of the night. Amy tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but when they got home, she found out that her husband was still talking to his girlfriend.
Amy was doing everything she could to try to heal the relationship, but her husband was becoming more distant, cold, and mean to her. Amy was devastated and wanted to know what to do next. I told Amy about the Diamond Strategy, and if you’re in a similar situation, I recommend it for you too.
Before I explain the Diamond Strategy, let me ask you a couple of questions. Why do you think people like diamonds? Is it because they're sparkly and pretty, or is it really because they're rare and represent something valuable? Do you think people value what they can have all the time for free? Or do they value something that is not easy to get and requires effort to attain?
My feeling is that people want things that are rare, valuable, exclusive, and precious. So if this is true, and we want your partner to be more into you (and more motivated to do things to heal you and the relationship), then you need to show them you are rare, valuable, and precious (like a diamond!).
Remember, there's only one you. There's no one just like you, and your partner is lucky to have you. If your partner has been having an affair and is having trouble breaking it off, we need to remind them that you and your relationship are a rare gift, not something ordinary. They need to act in ways to earn that gift, they don’t just get the gift for showing up and acting poorly.
A core component of the Diamond Strategy is detachment. You are allowed to detach from a painful situation and set a boundary when someone is behaving in hurtful ways. Detaching does not mean you do not love someone, it means you are choosing to protect yourself when someone else is making hurtful, selfish choices.
We are going to talk about exactly how to do this now.
The Diamond Strategy
Step 1: Stop talking about the affair and the pain and the hurt.
This is going to be very hard, but stop for a little while. You can write all of your thoughts in a journal or in an online forum instead. Get your thoughts out and seek some individual support for yourself. I want your partner to have a break from the pain and reconnect with the idea that life will get back to normal again.
Step 2: Focus on being the best, brightest, most positive version of yourself.
In essence, be a sparkly diamond, the best you. Get busier, go out with friends, take up a painting class, go do some fun things. Do things to make yourself feel better and be happier. I want your partner to remember how fun and amazing you are.
Step 3: Really reward loving behavior.
When your partner is displaying loving behavior (being kind, friendly, warm, and thoughtful), reward that good behavior with kindness, affection, and thoughtfulness.
- Do the dishes, help cook dinner, watch their favorite show, go put gas in the car, etc.
- Be a loving partner.
- Tell them how much you love their behavior and what they mean to you.
I want your partner to connect their loving behavior with your loving behavior. And realize that to get loving behavior, they need to demonstrate loving behavior as well.
Step 4: Go into roommate mode when your partner is having selfish behavior.
When your partner is displaying selfish behavior (being mean, going off without telling you where they are, sneaking away with the cell phone, etc.), leave your partner alone and ignore them.
- Don't be mean, don't yell and scream, don't throw things.
- Be a calm, neutral roommate, not a loving partner.
- Stop cooking dinner, stop doing the laundry, stop all the loving things you do. Or, if you prefer, just stop doing a couple of these things.
I want your partner to understand that selfish behavior does not lead to closeness, that the only way to have you and all that’s good about you is to be engaged and loving.
Step 5: Explain what you’re doing when they ask.
When your partner notices that your behavior is changing, say something like this:
"Amal, I really love you and I want our marriage to work, but I deserve better than this. When you act like a loving partner to me, I will act like a loving partner to you. When you act in hurtful ways to me, I am going to detach. I am NOT going to give you all the love and good things you normally expect from me. I'm not trying to hurt you, I'm just trying to protect myself. To get the best from me, you have to treat me as someone you cherish."
Step 6: Stop tracking and checking.
For a while, stop all tracking, checking up on them, reading their emails, and the like. Put the burden on your partner to prove to you that they're being honest and trustworthy. You can say, "Yes, I see that you are doing better and are making a real effort. I'd like for you to find ways to prove to me that I can trust you." If your partner says, "Like what?” feel free to give examples: you can show me your email, you can give me your cell phone, you can show me your credit card receipts, etc.
The goal of this strategy is to create a contrast between you and the affair partner. The affair is a fantasy and an illusion. Your partner can only have a warm, loving home life with you. Your partner can only have Christmas morning with the kids with you. Odds are, you are a lot more wonderful than the affair partner and we really want to highlight this.
We also want your partner to see that a future with you can be fun and wonderful, not all doom and gloom, so we have to highlight that you are fun and cheery and warm. This approach will help you do that too.
Now, if this approach has no effect on your partner and they really don’t care what you do, then I strongly encourage you to chat with a therapist to determine your next steps. The bottom line is that you need be authentic and genuine with your partner: if they’re treating you poorly, or acting like the relationship is disposable, you have the right to say you can’t continue. You deserve a whole lot more than that. You’re a diamond, after all!
Dr. K's NEW Book on Infidelity Recovery
The Courage to Stay - How To Heal From an Affair & Save Your Marriage
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