Dealing With An Affair in Relationship or Marriage
Every other week the media wants to tell us what celebrity is cheating on their partner, what marriage is ending and what relationship is beginning. Watching from afar and the comfort of our couch can prove to be decent entertainment, but when the cheating is actually happening to you, it’s a completely different story.
According to Infidelity Facts, some 53 percent of American marriages end in divorce while more than 50 percent of both men and women admit to cheating on their significant others in some point in their lives. Similarly, Adam and Eve found that an overwhelming amount of men and women—74 and 68 percent of those surveyed, respectively—would cheat so long as they knew they wouldn’t get caught. Not only that, but of those who actually admitted to cheating (33 percent total), over 40 percent of them had done it six or more times.
While these facts are somewhat staggering, there is still hope and the ability to stay together, as long as both parties are willing to put the time and effort in.
If you’ve recently discovered that your partner has been cheating, you are likely to progress through these five stages.
1. The Disbelief
You are likely to be in shock and aren’t completely capable of comprehending why or how this happened to you. Accepting it means that your partner did cheat on you and that you have to deal with the repercussions. However, accepting it is the first step to potentially saving your marriage. If you linger in this stage you’re likely to get divorced or have your partner cheat on you again.
2. The Pain
With acceptance comes the deep hurt. All you can think of is the affair. You focus on every little mysterious facet of it all and start to question yourself. Why weren’t you enough? What did you do wrong? etc.
3. The Anger
You can only sulk and beat yourself up for so long before the anger sets in. You’ll become furious thinking, how could they do this to you and the relationship that you had? Real damage, physically and emotionally, can occur in this stage if your anger isn’t handled with care. Try to talk through your anger, hit the gym and avoid drugs and alcohol, they will only heighten your anger.
4. The Acceptance
At this point, you have progressed through the sadness and anger and will be moving more towards a feeling of acceptance of what happened. This is not indicative of you being happy or problems being resolved, but rather that you’re now ready to truly move forward with your life.
5. The Decision
Now you have to decide whether you and your partner want to put the time, effort and love in to make your marriage work. This might be the hardest part of all.
Should you decide that you want to stay together, it is highly advised that you seek out couple counseling. Having a mitigator will help you get through some of those tough conversations. As noted on WebMD, “You really need to find a counselor or therapist who is pro-marriage, and can help get your relationship back on track.” Avoid any therapist, they wrote, that sees infidelity as a “death sentence” for your relationship.
You should also keep open communication and discover what the motivation was for the cheating. If you don’t find out what the underlying problem is, you won’t be able to fix it and the indiscretions may happen again.
Your partner should also be completely open about what happened. You deserve to have any and every question answered. Your partner should not try to excuse their behavior, lessen the severity or blame you. They need to take responsibility for their actions. You need to accept it and they have to own it.
Learning to trust again will take some time, but if you continue to be open and honest with each other it should return. Many marriages that survive infidelity actually become stronger.
And finally, work on trying new things with each other, rekindle the bond between the two of you. Try not to always focus on the affair; have a life outside of it and be a couple again. Spice things up in and outside of your bedroom, whether that means you go on dates again or opt for something new in your sex life, such as a sex toy or device. In addition to providing a different element to your bedroom routine, there are some that are designed with both partners in mind.
With time and patience, your relationship could be better than it was before. It’s important to not only be honest with your partner during this process, but also with yourself. You and only you will know what’s right for you and your relationship.