You just found out your mate has cheated on you. Hurt, frustrated, disgusted, disappointed, confused, angry, hopeless, and heartbroken. Your first thoughts are, why? Why me? Should I leave or should I stay? Cheating, infidelity, whatever term you choose to use, affects many relationships. According to the 2017 Infidelity Statistics, in over 1/3 of marriages one or both the partners admitted to cheating.
Some couples choose to stay together and work through it, while others can’t bear the shame and the hurt that comes with finding out that they have been cheated on, so they choose to part ways. Dealing with infidelity is hard, and recovering from it is even harder; but the most difficult part is looking into the eyes of the person who cheated and wondering to yourself, “why.” Crushed and perplexed, you ask yourself, can our relationship survive, do I still want this, can I forgive him/her, what is it about me that made him/her cheat, wasn’t I enough, am I enough…..so many emotions and thoughts, and so many questions.
Yes, infidelity is a nightmare and causes major damage to a relationship and impacts a person’s emotional and mental health. Infidelity can be seen as a type of trauma for some people because of the triggers and the replaying of images, flashbacks, recurrent stressful dreams, difficulty concentrating, and decrease in interest in activities, and feelings of sadness that may be experienced by the hurt partner.
When infidelity occurs in a relationship feelings of guilt and resentment immediately shows up, and the journey to healing can sometimes take months or even years. It’s not impossible to heal, rebuild trust, and learn to love in the relationship after infidelity. Your relationship can survive infidelity; however, it will take a lot of work and time to sort through your emotions, and to wrap your head around what you’ve experienced.
The relationship doesn’t have to end, it’s possible to heal and recover from infidelity.
Dr. Janis A. Spring, a clinical psychologist, author of the bestselling books, “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful”, and expert on trust, intimacy, and forgiveness, states that infidelity is about secrets and the violation of trust; and she also states, understanding why the affair happened is important to the healing process. Being able to talk about infidelity is important to the success or failure of the relationship, and ignoring and acting as if nothing has happened hurts the relationship. There must be a conversation about the infidelity no matter how hurt, frustrated, and angry you are, and being able to ask questions opens the door for healing to take place.
Although infidelity is very complex and the healing process leads to the road of recovery, there are three things that must be done before healing and recovery of the relationship takes place: together you must
- Decide if you want to stay together
- Decide if the relationship is worth saving
- Decide if you want to recommit to the relationship
- Decide if you want to recommit to your mate
Remember, recovering from infidelity is possible, and rebuilding trust, healing the pain, and learning to love again, is not a quick fix, and will take a lot of time, energy, effort, and hard work.