Infidelity: It’s one of the most devastating things that can happen to your marriage, and one of the hardest to get over. The person you promised to love, honour and cherish ‘til death do you apart has informed you that they have been intimate with another. Do you work to try and mend your marriage? Or is this breach of vows enough to make you decide to leave?
1. Take some time to take stock
After you learn that your partner has been emotionally and physically intimate with someone else, it’s a good idea to take some time to be by yourself. You need your own space to think about what your next steps will be. You can ask your partner to leave the home temporarily.
You may wish to talk to your trusted circle of family and friends. You may also wish to reach out to a therapist. Or you may wish to hold this information close to the chest, mulling privately about what it means and what you wish to do. Sharing such life-impacting news is up to you.
The important thing is not to make any decisions rashly.
While infidelity is shocking, it does not need to be the end of a marriage. If you have decided that your relationship is worth trying to save, here are some action points to consider.
2. The affair must stop immediately
Your spouse must cease all communication, be it by text, email or phone, with the person he was cheating on you with. There can be no slow goodbye or long explanation for cutting things off. If your spouse is not willing to stop the affair, do not proceed with trying to rebuild the relationship.
3. Your partner should answer all your questions about the affair
It is normal for you to want to know all the details about the when, the where and the why of your spouse’s infidelity. In order to recover, your spouse should agree to provide you with the details. The need to know may come in waves; there will be days where you just can’t face knowing anything, followed by days where you want to grill your spouse on the most intimate of details surrounding his trysts.
Your partner should understand that this is part of the healing process, even if it is uncomfortable for him/her (and it will be).
4. Your partner should accept the responsibility for the indiscretions
If your partner puts the blame on you, saying things like “She was so hot, and you, you’ve let yourself go,” or “He loved having sex with me and you are always too tired,” you have a choice. You can leave the marriage, or you can work with the marriage counselor to help your husband understand the importance of talking about these types of problems rather than thinking an affair is a good solution to them.
Ideally, your spouse should apologize and own all the blame for the affair.
5. Bring in expert support
Marriage counseling is a must if you want to get over infidelity.
A qualified marriage counselor will help you unpack the reasons behind the affair. This is important and working through this in the safety of a therapist’s office is better than trying to talk about it yourselves.
A neutral third party will guide the conversation and work with you to find healthy resolution; your counselor will also keep your emotions in check and calm tempers should they start to escalate (which is normal). Remember: a marriage counselor has seen it all and knows what it takes to help a committed couple overcome the distress associated this significant event.
6. Know it that you are on the path towards healing
Be aware there is no set timeline for healing. Getting over infidelity is a two-step forward, one-step backward process. But you should see a linear progression upwards. You will have fewer and fewer days of waking up and feeling like all you want to do is cry. Your mind will go less and less to imagined images of your spouse and “that woman” together. As you work with your husband to address the issues that led to the infidelity, you will find that you have a new closeness developing.
Infidelity can eventually be viewed as a blessing in disguise. It can serve to wake up a marriage that has grown stale or routine. By recommitting to your relationship through open communication and forgiveness, you can find that version 2.0 of your marriage is even better than the original one!
You’ve been through the fire and have come out stronger.