Dealing with infidelity in a relationship or marriage is perhaps the most difficult challenge a couple can face. Infidelity involves breaking a promise to be faithful to your partner, and when it happens, it shatters any trust that existed in the relationship.
Dealing with infidelity can be painfully challenging and it raises tough questions. Should you stay? Should you forgive? Can trust be rebuilt? Will things ever be the same?
If you’ve just found out that your partner has been unfaithful and you’re not sure what to do, you need to find someone you trust to talk to. Someone who can listen without judgment and provide thoughtful, objective feedback.
Infidelity can occur in ANY relationship. Of course, we think it’s never going to happen in our relationship, but existing statistics show that infidelity occurs in about a third of relationships!
Why do people cheat?
People cheat for a variety of reasons, and it rarely has anything to do with the person that’s being cheated on. You might think your partner was unfaithful because of something you did or didn’t do, but that’s rarely true.
Here are some reasons people cheat:
- To feel desirable
- Impulse/lack of self control
- Impaired decision-making under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Sex addiction
Remember that none of these reasons are an excuse, and the person made a choice to cheat.
Can a relationship survive infidelity?
Yes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive infidelity, but it means that both partners have to be willing to work hard at rebuilding the trust that has been broken and making the relationship strong again. This isn’t easy and it takes a tremendous amount of work – on both parts.
tips for dealing with infidelity
Talk about the affair
It’s important for both parties to have an open and honest discussion about the affair. This doesn’t mean going over all the juicy details (This is almost never helpful). It means asking and answering questions like, “What did it mean to you?”
It’s also important to work with a couples therapist or marriage counselor to explore ways that you both can heal faster.
Remember the good times
Cheating is painful, but it helps to reminisce about the good times and all the wonderful things your partner did for you in the past.
Tackle old issues
Now is a great time to address any underlying issues and resentment in your relationship and create a fresh start. Remember, your old relationship is over. Now you have an opportunity to create a new one.
Practice radical honesty
When dealing with infidelity, be completely honest with each other about how you feel, felt, and how you want to be loved. Radical honesty and transparency are critical components of a healthy relationship.
Set a time table for recovery
Both of you need to be intentional about your recovery. The person who cheated needs to allow the betrayed party time for healing, and respect the other person’s recovery process.
Start something new
Remember how excited you both were when you fell in love? Rekindle that magic by doing an activity you both enjoy together, and incorporating more romance into your relationship. This may (likely will) feel forced at first, that’s ok. However, in time it will start to feel more natural and authentic.
Reaffirm your commitment
There needs to be an understanding that the infidelity will never occur in the relationship again, and a willingness to keep that promise by both of you. This can be something as simple as a conversation, or it can be something like a vows ceremony.
When dealing with infidelity, patience is key. With the support of each other, family, friends and an awesome couples counselor, it is possible to move past an affair and become even stronger.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.