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In this study, the authors study the relays assignment problem in cooperative wireless networks with self-interested nodes. The authors propose a cooperation mechanism which includes the cooperative relationship formation stage and cooperation maintenance stage. The cooperative relationship among the nodes can be modelled as an exchange market game where nodes trade transmission power between each other to obtain diversity gain. The exchange games have a basic assumption that each node conforms to trade agreement so that each agent has the option to trade its good to obtain a better one. In such a game, strict core is considered as individual rational, Pareto optimal and relationship-stable solution. A cooperation cycle formation (CCF) algorithm is proposed to obtain the strict core solution. However, in networks, some deviated nodes may break the cooperation agreement to obtain more utility gain. Such deviated behaviours in the cooperation cycles can totally destroy the cooperation relationship. However, the data transmissions in networks have the repeated element. Hence, based on the cooperative cycle formed by CCF, the authors introduce a repeated game model for cooperation maintenance in the second stage. A dynamic punishment and recover mechanism is proposed to punish the deviated behaviours and recover cooperation.