How To Handle Discovering Infidelity In Your Marriage

Photo: getty
How To Handle Discovering Infidelity In Your Marriage
Heartbreak

Don't panic.

Cheating in marriage leads to sure heartbreak.

You had your suspicions, picked up on the subtle signs, and you’ve been observing their behavior for a while. It’s become clear to you that one way or the other, your spouse has been cheating on you.

Perhaps, they even admitted their infidelity to you. Or, you found out by snooping on their phone or by using a tracking device, or even following them somewhere.

RELATED: 22 Ways Couples Can Survive Cheating (And Finally Heal From The Betrayal)

Right now, you're inclined to toss your wedding band and call it quits. Or, you may feel so desperate to get back their attention and love, that you will do almost anything.

It’s natural to feel numb, confused, angry, desperate, lonely, and lost. Some people even feel relieved because the game of searching for the truth is over.

Here are 5 ways to handle discovering infidelity in marriage.

1. Don't panic.

Don't start telling everyone and anyone you know about what your spouse has done, including your children, family members, and friends. Instead, you need to take stock of the entire situation and figure out what it all means.

A client I worked with was so furious when she discovered infidelity, that she sent evidence of her husband's cheating to all of his family. This caused more damage to their marriage, and her husband took it as vindictive.

Some people will jump straight to divorce threats and hiring lawyers, only to regret it later.

So as hard as it is, take actions to release the anger, hurt, and overwhelming thoughts, rather than act on them.

There have been countless situations where one partner has been caught cheating in marriage, and the marriage was not only saved but also made stronger because of it.

This doesn't mean that an affair in a relationship automatically means a stronger relationship. It just means that you shouldn't be taking any big, rash decisions right after you’ve learned what happened.

Knee-jerk reactions are unlikely to help bring strength back into the relationship.

2. Face your emotions and don’t make any decisions straight away.

Face your emotions-head on, rather than burying your head in the sand and pretending the affair you've just discovered is not happening. Resist the urge to numb yourself with alcohol, medications, or food.

You're going to feel extremely hurt, betrayed, low, and angry. But right now, you need to decide just how much you’re invested in this relationship and whether or not you're willing to take a step toward recovery after the affair.

There are instances where people can't possibly face going forward and working towards a solution together — and that’s OK.

But, for those who can and want to move forward toward fixing things, it’s extremely important for their partner to apologize for cheating and take responsibility for what they did to you and your marriage.

Unfortunately, some couples don’t really get a choice if their cheating spouse wants to leave the marriage to stay with the person they've been having an affair with.

It's extremely painful to watch your loved one leave after an affair. Processing the painful emotions and getting it off your chest is important.

Letting go of the hurt and resentment is key after your spouse has been caught having an affair. Resentment harms us in the long-term if we hold on to it.

3. Don't beg your spouse to stay.

If you've decided to stay and work on your relationship, you need to make sure you don't beg your spouse to stay. Begging comes across as needy, and neediness is unattractive.

Begging and neediness won’t work long-term to help a marriage after an affair. However, you need to make it clear that you want to work on the marriage, so that your partner understands where you both stand.

When adultery has taken place, sometimes the first reaction from the one who has cheated is to think they need to leave.

If you're looking to save the marriage, say something like, "I still want you and this relationship to work." This is different from begging the person to stay and is a better way to communicate your feelings.

It’s natural to go through a whirlwind of emotions at this stage, so you need to keep track of where you are and how you feel.

After this has been communicated and understood by your partner, it’s time to get to work on saving your marriage (if that’s what you decide), either through your actions or marriage courses and programs.

RELATED: 12 Tough Things You Must Do If You Choose To Stay With A Cheating Husband

4. Take care of your mental health.

You may have sleepless nights trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. You may find your mind and head scrambling to know more about what happened in the affair and when the cheating began.

You may find that images of the affair and cheating keep popping into your head.

You may start asking yourself or your spouse the same questions again and again after the affair, like:

  • How on earth could they do this to me?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • What have I done to deserve this?
  • Did they ever love me?
  • Am I not attractive enough?

All these questions you may ask yourself after an affair are going to hurt you. They are harmful because they are attacking you, and your unconscious mind always answers to try to find a reason for every question.

So instead, switch to empowering questions such as:

  • What can I do about this now?
  • What do I need to learn from them to move forward?
  • What can I use from this to benefit my future?
  • What are the lessons here?

If you find that your mind is not calming down, or that the anger, hurt, and confusion is too much, try a hypnotherapy session.

Hypnotherapy is a great tool to use to calm any overwhelming emotions. This method works best when you have a recording to listen to created for you.

Relax and release any anxiety, anger, and reoccurring thoughts and images, so you can sleep better and focus on your future more easily, no matter what you decide to do.

5. Consider couples therapy.

When there's infidelity in a marriage, there are repairs that need to happen. It goes beyond the initial emotional, angry phase, because what has happened is a betrayal of the person’s trust.

Some people aren't surprised when they catch their spouse cheating because the marriage already had many problems.

Repairs need to happen to rebuild trust after the affair. Both partners need to take a look at what the relationship needs and what needs to change.

Some marriage counseling services will take you into the depth of the question "why?" and sometimes delve into childhood patterns.

If you have plenty of money and time and enjoy delving into the past, then by all means, go ahead. However, when it comes to saving a marriage after a betrayal, going over the past again and again is not helpful.

Instead, what needs to be established is how the cheating spouse plans to take responsibility for their actions. What are they willing to do to change things, and what are you willing to do to create a new relationship?

This doesn’t mean forgetting the past affair, but rather couple needs to learn from it and move forward. Are both willing to make a recommitment to the relationship and do the necessary work to repair the marriage after the affair?

Whatever you do and whoever you hire to be your marriage therapist, make sure that they believe the marriage can be saved after an affair.

A good marriage therapist:

  • Won’t tell you what to do and whether or not your marriage can be saved.
  • Won’t play judge and jury with your relationship and pass their opinion on whether your marriage is good or not.
  • Doesn’t want to stay stuck in the past going over problems again and again.
  • Will have a plan they share with you to become closer, rather than an endless series of sessions with no structure or actions to support you in moving forward.
  • Doesn’t push too much.

It's natural to be unsure of whether to stay or leave your marriage after discovering your spouse cheated.

Seeing a good relationship therapist can help you gain perspective on what you want as your end goal and outline what you are trying to achieve through the sessions.

RELATED: A Step-By-Step Guide To Determine If Your Relationship Has Any Chance Of Surviving Infidelity

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Nicola Beer is a couples' counselor in Dubai and online. To book one of her free ultimate connector consultations, email her or read "The 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage," get your Free Report, and visit her website.

This article was originally published at nicolabeer.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Author
Expert