It could be emotional distance. It could be a lack of physical intimacy. It could be boredom.
There are many causes of infidelity, but the effects are always the same: traumatic.
Infidelity disrupts a marriage unlike any other event or circumstance that could occur within the relationship. There’s the emotional aspects of betrayal and pain from the breaking of wedding vows. There’s also the physical misconduct that could change a couple’s level of intimacy forever.
The question is: How do we deal? How do we look infidelity in the eye and heal our relationship and ourselves from it’s cutting blows? It’s a grief-ridden and possibly lonely path to walk after adultery has reared it’s ugly head. We need to be prepared with some physical and emotional weaponry to protect ourselves.
When it occurs in your relationship, understand that there is no best thing to do or optimal route to take. You need to consider what is best for you and your marriage. With that said, there are some universal things to consider to make it through the process as unscathed as possible.
Be sexually safe
Whether you were the one that was stepped out on or vice versa, make sure that the both of you get tested for STD’s. Being married means that you should only have one sexual partner, and when someone cheats, it brings in the potential for both husband and wife to be affected.
Don’t have unprotected sex until you’ve taken the time to get this testing done. No matter how apologetic the cheating spouse was, it’s not worth the risk of contracting something from the person that they were promiscuously sleeping with.
Don’t make long term decisions in the heat of the moment
The sustainability of the marriage can’t be decided within a few days or weeks of the infidelity coming to light. Take your time with the process and make sure that whatever decision you make isn’t made out of spite or love. We tend to be emotional beings, but you need to take a while to let your rational mind wrap its head around what’s going on.
Let the dust settle, get all of the information in the open, and make a decision based on what is best for you long term. If you’ve been cheated on, maybe you need to step away and have some “me” time. If you’re the cheater, maybe you need to see a therapist and better understand why you did it. Either way, the relationship and marriage will need some time to heal. Don’t rush into staying in the marriage or bowing out right away. Let time pass and see how you feel.
Surround yourself with support
Whether it’s friends and family, a life coach, or a therapist, get yourself around people that will lift you up. Even if you and your spouse choose to stay together, it will be extremely difficult if the two of you are trying to rise above all the pain and hurt on your own. You both need to reach out to people that you can trust as a solid shoulder to lean on.
If you decide to walk away from your relationship, being around your favorite people will be even more important. Trying to make it through those tough times alone will be torturous. People that experience infidelity tend to struggle with issues of self-worth, depending on the severity of the transgression. You need to make sure that the people around you are reminding you of how great of a human being you are. Don’t go through it alone.
Go see a professional
Speaking of support, find a good therapist or counselor that can help you navigate through these tough times. Their expertise is centered on being objective and nonjudgmental as you fill them in on what’s going in your life.
If you and your spouse are making an honest attempt at saving the marriage, a therapist should be non negotiable. They handle tender situations like these for a living, and have insights and tactics that many people wouldn’t think to apply.
If you are walking away from the marriage and are starting anew, a therapist can be just as crucial to your personal healing. You are going to go from a marriage in which you partly depended on another person for things like love, appreciation, and worthiness. A therapist or counselor will support you in becoming your own support system over time.
Don’t try to get even
This is a no-win proposition. If you are seeking a sexual conquest or emotional connection with someone other than your spouse just to seek revenge, you’re doing more damage than healing to the relationship and yourself. The phrase “an eye for an eye” doesn’t apply here. Infidelity is a tragedy in itself; having revenge sex is doubling down on that trauma. Try to work through your emotions in a healthier manner.
Trust your intuition
There will be many friends and family members that will do their best to let you know what you should do once you’ve become a victim of infidelity. Take their advice in (objectively as possible), but keep the volume on the voice inside your head turned up to a reasonable volume.
You and you only know what is right for you and what will make you happy. If your spouse made a mistake that you can forgive, then do just that. If they did something that will forever change the way that you look at them, causing you to never forgive them, then walk away.
There is no single correct answer, so don’t waste your days trying to find one. Do your best to figure out what you want and what will make you happiest. There is no guarantee that your spouse will never cheat again. There’s no guarantee that your marriage will get back to a loving state even if they don’t. Trust yourself and your instincts and make the best decision you can.