Finding out that a partner has been unfaithful can be a heartbreaking experience. Little else leaves us feeling so betrayed, abandoned, wounded, confused, and mistrustful.
Infidelity undermines the foundation of commitment and trust that a healthy relationship is built on. However, separation or divorce is not inevitable after cheating; with time and a mutual desire to rebuild the relationship, healing is possible. Below are five strategies for surviving infidelity with your relationship intact.
1. Take Care Of You First
You’ve discovered your partner’s infidelity – now what?
- The first step is to accept that you’re in a state of shock right now, and making any major decisions needs to wait until you have some clarity.
- Take this time to show yourself care and attention. As counterintuitive as it may seem, go for a massage, make sure you’re sleeping and eating well, and seek out the company of trusted friends.
- Be sure to only share your relationship issues with those close to you who can be supportive and non-judgmental – and try not to involve other family members. It may only serve to make it more difficult for you and your partner to heal in the long run if there is pressure from others outside the relationship.
By focusing on yourself, you build a foundation of safety and health to approach your relationship from.
2. Give Each Other Space
After infidelity, the tension can seem unbearable. Emotions are running high, and it’s best to give each other space for the time being.
There is too much hurt, anger, defensiveness, shame, guilt, confusion, and mistrust to make progress at this point. Instead, take the time to absorb what has happened. Wait until you can communicate your feelings without attacking each other.
Check in with each other regularly, and then bring up the infidelity when you can be constructive in talking about it.
3. Discuss What Happened With Honesty – And Respect
You are not responsible for your partner’s actions. However, there may be factors in your relationship that have led to your current situation. Discuss how you ended up here.
Did your partner feel unwanted, unloved, unfulfilled, or ignored? Is he or she experiencing doubts about the relationship, work-related insecurities, self-esteem issues, or confusion? It may be difficult to hear about the affair, but you need to understand what motivated your partner to cheat.
Express your own feelings in turn. Make sure to communicate in a way that is respectful and authentic.
4. Talk To A Counselor Or Therapist
More than ever, your relationship needs a neutral party to help facilitate healing. Whether you and your partner share the mutual goal of reconciliation, or want help clarifying where you are and where you want to go from here, a therapist can help you to identify your issues and make a plan for addressing them.
Seeing a psychotherapist who specializes in couple therapy or marriage counseling can help you learn to rebuild and strengthen your relationship.
Forgiveness is difficult, and takes time. However, without it, real healing can’t occur. Although your partner has wounded you deeply, remember that they are someone you love – and treat them as such. Holding on to resentment and bitterness will only prolong the hurt and make reconciliation difficult.
For those couples that recover from the effects of infidelity, many discover that they are stronger than before. When one partner is unfaithful, the couple is forced to confront issues in the relationship that may have been ignored or overlooked.
The infidelity brings to a head the weaknesses in their relationship, and with the help of a therapist, they are able to work to fortify the relationship. Infidelity can take a toll on any relationship – but it doesn’t have to be the end of yours.
These strategies do not take the place of the help of a qualified therapist. Contact us at Nassau Guidance & Counseling today at (516) 221-9494 to be matched with a couple’s counselor who can help you begin to heal your relationship.