Dealing With Infidelity – Tips and Advice That May Help

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The other day, I received an email from a wife who was devastated to learn that her husband had been having an affair for about six months. They had been married for about fifteen years and had two children. She never saw it coming and was completely blindsided. In her mind, they had a very good marriage in which she perceived that every one was getting their needs met. Even now, her husband was insisting that this “one mistake” did not mean that the marriage had to be over or that she had to throw everything away and break up their family.

Her head was spinning. She was angry, confused, and looking for where she should begin to lay the blame or how she could even begin the healing process. She confessed that she could never envision a future where she was able to get over this. It seemed to be a deal breaker for her, but she hated the idea of this other woman affecting the life of her kids. She asked me: “How do people who successfully deal with infidelity do it? I would like to handle this better, but I don’t seem to be in control of my feelings. I’m so angry and suspicious now. I second guess everything and I don’t like the way this feels. It’s as though my life has been stolen from me. How do I cope?” I’ll tell you what I told her in the following article.

Give Yourself Time To Process Everything And To Calm Down Before You Make Any Decisions Or Take Any Action: I know that in the days and weeks following finding out about the infidelity, everything feels immediate. You want a very quick resolution because everything feels out of control and painful. However, it’s very unlikely that you will be ready to make any lasting decisions now or if those decisions would be in your best interest.

The high emotions that are the result of this will very likely cloud your judgments and decision making abilities and some of these decisions may have long term repercussions. Not only that, but so soon after the fall out, you aren’t likely to have all of the information that you need to make an educated decision. Hold off on making any long term plans or decisions until you’re sure that have a clear picture and have processed and considered every important variable. This often just takes time. But you don’t want to rush in and make things worse just because you, very understandably, allow your emotions to get the better of you.

Do Not Blame Yourself For His Infidelity: Another trap that is very easy to fall into is what I call the self esteem black hole. After the initial anger begins to wear off, there is a tendency to blame ourselves and to buy into the old cliche that “if a man is happy at home, he has no need to cheat.” These very convenient sayings and perceptions let the man off of the hook and aren’t true anyway.

No marriage is perfect. No spouse is perfect. Presumably, we all know this going in and we accept it anyway because we are mature adults. Sure, maybe intimacy slipped a little. Maybe the pace of life contributed to both of you not putting in the time and effort the way that you should. But, none of these things are an excuse to be unfaithful to your spouse. There are so many alternatives that responsible adults should take such as reaching out, communicating, counseling, etc. There is no room to blame anyone else.

Don’t allow yourself to take on any undeserved blame. This decision to be unfaithful was his. You can concede that you both made omissions, but these things are not an excuse for their actions and you absolutely should not direct your anger at yourself. People cheat because of low self esteem, personal crises, and poor impulse control. Often the infidelity has much less to do with their spouse than it has to do with themselves. I know it sounds trite to say that you shouldn’t take this all that personally, but statistics and research shows us that this really is the case.

Don’t Settle For Less Than You Deserve: I know that you probably want your life to feel normal again, but it’s generally not in your best interest to rush the process. If you do, you will likely leave a lot of loose ends that are going to create doubt and resentment. You want to start off with a clean slate and a mutual comfort level and commitment – should you chose to save this marriage. (And even if you aren’t going to save the marriage, you need to start off with a personal clean slate and with some emotional closure and health.)

Any decisions that you make should be with an eye toward what is in YOUR best interests – not his. It’s time to be selfish and self centered. Because the decisions that you make right now are going to affect how you will live for a long time to come. So, don’t proceed until you have what you need to move forward. Identify exactly what needs to happen for you to feel secure and at peace and accept nothing less.

If you still have trust issues, then make restoring the trust a very high priority and speak up. Tell your spouse that you are going to need a lot of reassurance and the ability to “check in” or it’s just not going to work for you. If you feel that counseling or educating yourself would help, then by all means, get what you need. This is not the time to just idly sit by and “hope” that everything will work out. You must take a very active role in ensuring that you get everything that you need to heal.

It often helps to take some time to work on yourself. And I do not say that to insinuate that you are in any way to blame. You are not. But often having someone cheat on you does a huge number on your self esteem. Don’t just ignore this. Do whatever is necessary to restore your confidence and self worth.

Finally, allow yourself to believe that you are fully capable of creating the life that you want. Whether that life includes your spouse or it doesn’t, you can do this. This is the perfect opportunity to take a hard look at your life, see what isn’t working, and then edit it to your satisfaction. You can create a new marriage or a new life. The details and how it looks when finished are up to you, but you do have the unique ability to turn this negative into a positive by settling for nothing less than what you really want.

I know that dealing with infidelity can be very difficult, but don’t give up. If you hang in there, the rewards can be great. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read my very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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