Infidelity in Committed Relationships: 4 Tips to Manage Feelings
Often when one partner cheats during the course of a relationship the other partner is left confused or seemingly blind-sided by the infidelity. Some react with outrage and anger while others shut down, turning their disappointment and frustrations inward. However, the same remains true for both responses to infidelity, upon initial discovery of an affair neither knows what to do and how to respond.
4 Techniques That Can Be Used to Deal with a Partners Infidelity:
Confront your partner about your discovery- Do not make the mistake of confronting or blaming the person your partner cheated with for the problems in your relationship. The person that your partner cheated with did not make a commitment to you and is not in a relationship with you, therefore, the only person that should be held accountable for going outside of the relationship is your partner. Also, before you confront your partner have proof, I cannot stress this enough. Do not confront your partner based upon assumptions as this will only breed resentment and increased frustration. Even if your partner is cheating he or she is more likely to deny the claims unless you have proof to support your allegations. If you confront without proof your partner is more likely to become more skilled in hiding his or her infidelity.
Do not give up your right to choose- Sometimes when we discover our mate is cheating on us we make the mistake of “forcing” the to choose between us and the person her or she is cheating with. This is wrong on so many levels as no one should have the right or privilege to decide your life’s course. By allowing the person who is cheating to decided who he or she wants to be with you not only convey the message that cheating is ok, but have placed yourself in a powerless position of being at the cheaters mercy. Take your power back in this situation, do not allow someone to make a life choice for you.
Do not blame yourself- While it is true relationships start and break-up as a result of both parties involved in the relationship. However, when it comes to infidelity in the relationship the cheater always has a choice. He or she has the capacity to decide if they are going to introduce another person into their relationship or whether or not they are going to address the underlining issues in the relationship with their partner. The cheating partner made a conscious decision to cheat and go outside his or her relationship with another person. Consider this, before sexual infidelity occurs there is emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity opens the door to sexual infidelity as it typically starts with disclosing and sharing of personal information that should only be shared with one’s partner. If uncorrected it will quickly lead to blurring and breaking of boundaries that can only be described as inappropriate and a gateway to future sexual acts.
Do not drive yourself crazy trying to understand the cheater psyche- Some people can become so engrossed with trying to figure out why their partner cheater, what they may have done to encourage their partner to cheat, how they missed the signs their partner was “unhappy”, etc. It is not your responsibility to try and understand why someone has wronged you, broke your trust, but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself, figure out what makes you happy, and whether this relationship is a healthy viable option for you. You may even seek counseling to deal with any unresolved feelings of anger and betrayal that could negatively impact future relationships.
Infidelity and betrayal are never easy to deal with, however, it must be addressed in order to move forward, whether that is with your partner or alone. Most people upon discovery of infidelity will react within two different extremes, with hostility or pretending it does not exit. Both maladaptive responses can be damaging to our emotional, psychological, or physical health. Finding a healthy balance to process and manage our feeling is essential to maintaining our overall health. Infidelity is one of the more difficult challenges a marriage or romantic relationship can face. It doesn't always mean it's the end of the relationship, but there are issues that need to be addressed by the couple. It is critical for both you and your spouse to carefully consider what changes you are both willing to make in order to get past it. Once you have identified the changes that are necessary to build a healthier relationship you must agree to stay committed to the course you have outlined, validate your partner’s feelings, accept what cannot be changed, and agree to that each partner will recommit to both the relationship and each other.