So, your spouse cheated on you. You found out or he/she came out in the open and revealed this ugly truth to you. You’re hurt big time. But now what? Is your marriage over? The answer to this questions depends entirely on you. Are you dealing with physical or emotional infidelity here? For many, infidelity (or any kind) can be a deal-breaker and can completely shatter the relationship. But, it does not have to be that way. Many couples have successfully overcome and survived infidelity in their relationships because they wanted to.
So if you love your spouse and want to approach the problem with the aim of healing yourself (and your marriage), then here are some tips for you:
1. Refrain from punishing your partner
Getting cheated on can be a devastating experience. You hurt so bad. And of course you’re angry as well. So much that you want to hurt back and make them pay for doing this to you. But realize that this is the moment you choose how you should feel and react. You can either be mean and vengeful (which will only widen the wound and add to the pain) or you can be wise and try to get some insight into the real issue. Do not use this as a time to punish your spouse for their acts; that will turn you into a permanent victim and create a power imbalance in the relationship. If you really wish to heal, you will have to forgive and change.
2. Recognize the unmet need
Unless your partner is a serial cheater, you’re dealing with a relationship problem here. Remember that there is no flaw in his/her character. Ask yourself what was your role in the affair. Perhaps somewhere there was an unmet need in your relationship — for love, affection, attention, validation of worth or anything else? Perhaps it could be that they were simply not being heard and understood? Acknowledging the unmet need can be quite a (painful) revelation – that is when you know your own contribution in the extramarital affair.
Doing this is an important pointer in helping you both recover and heal.
3. Replace anger with understanding
This is never easy. But it will happen in time (especially after you have acknowledged your own role). After all, know that whenever there is infidelity involved in a relationship, the non-cheating partner also plays a role in the drama. Repair will only be possible when you both decide to share your respective responsibilities.
4. Refrain from bad-mouthing
Of course, after all the shock and trauma, you will feel the need to confide in a close friend or with family members. You need support at this time and that is completely normal. But if you intend on surviving infidelity in your marriage and work things out with your spouse, it may not be a great idea to divulge in all the dirty details and put them in bad light. Eventually, everyone will question your motives for staying. And you don’t want your relationship be put out there for public judgement.
5. Remember the pain
We don’t mean to say here that you must not let go of the past. Forgiveness is very important but make sure to remember the pain in the end. Holding a grudge will destroy your relationship (you’d rather leave), but erasing the pain from your past will make the other person feel like it was an acceptable thing to do and leave it open for repetition. So remember this experience as part of your relationship’s journey. As horrid as it was, it was something the two of you got through together.
Use the tips above for surviving infidelity in any relationship.