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Surviving Infidelity

Learning about your spouse's affair is one of the most life changing events you'll ever have to cope with. The initial mental and physical pain can be more than most people feel they can bear.

Debbie found that the shock left her feeling completely suicidal, in such an emotional state that she just couldn't see an end to the raging emotions of sheer loathing, humiliation, defeat and despair. She couldn't visualize surviving the infidelity.

"After weeks of trying to come to terms with the shock of my husband confessing to having an affair, I tried to face up to the news and move on with my life but I just couldn't get over the feelings of hate, shock, rage, fear and utter betrayal.

I really hated my husband, the 'other' woman and myself for what had become of our marriage. I found myself wanting to kill him one minute and trying to understand why he had done it the next. I didn't know what to do or where to turn. I had no idea as to whether I wanted to save my marriage or not but I was totally unprepared for life on my own.

I felt so alone, half dead, totally humiliated, defeated and betrayed and found I just couldn't move on without seeking help and learning that there was a way to move forward and get my life and my marriage back on track"

Because of the emotional roller coaster infidelity puts couples through, talking about the details in the early stage only reinforces the negative feelings that they already have. It will not help either the cheater or the cheated partner to cope with the situation nor will it help you move forward.

The first discussion will always be the most difficult one, when it's so easy for things to get totally out of hand. If the marriage is to be saved both partners need to be emotionally prepared, rational and calm. It is unrealistic to expect partners to be able to work together in the early days when neither party is capable of entering into any form of rational discussion.

The cheated partner will want immediate answers to why the affair occurred, if they loved the person they were having an affair with, did it mean anything and how long it had been going on. They will want to know why they weren't enough, was it the only one and will wonder if they can trust their partner again. They need to take control of these emotions before they should enter into any form of discussion and before they can make any progress towards surviving infidelity or even half way consider trying to save the marriage.

Many people go to marriage counselors terrified, not knowing what to do, unable to get the images of their partner in someone else's bed out of their mind, not knowing if their partner still loves them and feeling totally worthless and insecure. They have to get over that initial hurdle before they can move on, start piecing everything together and even consider trying to rebuild the marriage. What is said and done in those early stages is critical to surviving infidelity and will form the foundation of any new relationship which evolves.

Most people do not have the skills to work through their problems without getting emotional and cannot get beyond what has happened in the past so cannot look towards the future. It is so easy in the early discussions, when the most positive work towards recovering the relationship needs to be done, to get sucked into battles over what has happened. It is hard to push emotional feelings to one side and calmly discuss such a betrayal.

However, after the initial shock and once emotions have calmed down the most critcal thing to do is to talk, listen and try and understand what has happened, why it happened and how to move forward. Only after some kind of understanding have occurred can the cheated partner even consider any kind of foregiveness, but if initial contact is controlled, and approached in the right way, not jumping in with all guns blazing, marriages can and often do survive infidelity and become stronger because of it.

That is why spending time learning how to control your emotions and trying to understand the situation from your partner's point of view is vital if you want to save your marriage.
It is during this stage that you will find out why the affair happened, if it meant anything and what problems there were in your relationship. It is not until the all the cards have been laid on the table can couples even begin to try to put right what has gone wrong and move on with their lives.

As with most marital issues communication and understanding is critical to surviving infidelity.

 


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