Two people come together and pledge to spend the rest of their lives building something bigger than they are, many times with children coming as a blessed natural result. Certainly, even the best of couples aren’t going to have all sunshine and roses.
Obviously million of fine couples will work through hardships and be better for it in the end. However, surviving infidelity can be quite different. It can be one of the most stressful of all life situations. Studies show that in long-term relationships the chances of infidelity are approximately 25%. Please don’t hear that it’s impossible. You can be in that 25%, but we need to take an honest look at some of the common emotions of surviving infidelity. Here are some things a person will face when going through a crisis such as this.
Surviving infidelity has to be one of the most gut-wrenchingly difficult things one will ever have to endure in a relationship. If you are in that situation, you know better than anyone. Perhaps, it is because cheating devastates so many different aspects of the relationship; particularly trust, which is a foundation of any good marriage. Emotional responses to finding out your spouse is cheating are not unlike those you feel at the death of a loved one and may include:
- Anger- Sometimes rage to be more precise! If you were not angry with your spouse for cheating, then you would certainly be outside of the norm. It’s perfectly understandable and acceptable.
- Betrayal– how could your spouse hurt you like this? This is someone you committed your whole life to and now they have violated that commitment.
- Fear– is this the end of your relationship? Is your spouse going to leave you for their lover? Even through the anger and feelings of betrayal, there can be much fear. Is it over? What’s next? What will I do now? What about the children. Fear is an understandable emotion at this point.
- Denial– this is usually the first emotion, unless you actually catch your spouse in the act. If you just hear rumors or someone personally tells you that the affair is going on, you will not want to believe this about your spouse. Once again, this can be a perfectly normal response.
- Vengeance– for some the desire to get even goes hand in hand with the anger and betrayal. Sometimes you just want to get even. Quite honestly, sometimes the emotion comes out, as “I will just sleep with someone else also,” which would terribly compound the situation, but your emotions might tell you that.
- Depression– finding out your spouse has had sexual relations with another person is devastating to your self-esteem and often leads to depression. This is an A+ number opportunity for your emotions to take you into a deep depression. If that starts to happen, see someone before you get worse.
Picking up the Pieces
The first thing you have to determine is whether the marriage can be saved. Remember, that even with infidelity, many marriages can be saved. I have seem them be saved and thrive for many years afterwards. Many people, various religions, teachers, and pastors have differing opinions on what are the true moral grounds for divorce.
Although it doesn’t excuse it at all, if a spouse has a one time slip up that is totally out of his/her character, you may want to approach that much differently than if infidelity has become a chronic problem with the spouse and he or she is a multiple offender. It is not impossible to repair the bond between you and salvage your marriage if both parties are in agreement to work hard, get help, and have accountability. It is important to allow yourself a little time to come to grips with what has happened before making a long-term decision. Here are a few tips for mending your marriage:
- Talk it Out- once a little time has passed it is important that you sit down and talk about the affair, as painful as that may be. You should discuss things like how and why it happened. Infidelity is often a result of trying to meet needs that are not met in the marriage. (Not an excuse but frequently given as a reason).
- Space- after discovering your partner has cheated you will probably need some space to process your thoughts and emotions.
- Honesty- no matter how big or small the issue, 100% honesty must be the policy. Even a tiny amount of dishonesty can push your marriage over the cliff it is dangling from.
- Open Book- all interactions in your marriage should be an open book. In other words, cell phones, emails, social media sites and phone calls should all be out in the open and in the case of computer and cell phones, they should not be password protected. During the healing process, you do not want any doubt in the relationship.
- Counseling- dealing with the pain, anger and distrust is not going to be easy so you may want to enlist the aid of a therapist to work out the kinks. See our 5 Steps in Seeking Proper Marriage Help.
Infidelity is like a tsunami to a relationship, for the unsuspecting party it is a shattering experience. Everything you thought about your marriage has now been called into question and you often feel like a fool for not noticing something was wrong sooner.
The good news is you can recover and rebuild, but like a natural disaster, it will take time and a good deal of effort to restore your relationship to its previous glory. Surviving infidelity is not the easiest of roads, but at the end, some couples find a strong lasting and faithfully enduring marriage.