We could define infidelity, colloquially known as cheating, as the act of sexual or emotional unfaithfulness to one’s husband, wife, or lover.
The good news is that less than 10 percent of marriages involving sexual infidelity will end in divorce, considering the overall divorce rate is 50 percent of marriages.
It is only the couple themselves that can make that decision if their marriage will survive after an affair. To recommit to a relationship after the infidelity takes a lot of courage to trust the other person, trust their own judgement, and get some help with what was happening in the relationship. Rebuilding this trust in the relationship is not an easy journey, as there is still so much pain and hurt. Many questions, quite often the same ones over and over, will be asked – ‘why, how, who was it, how often, when’ etc. The betrayed person needs to make sense of something that feels senseless to them. There are many emotional stages to the grief and loss suffered such as devastation, betrayal, blame, anger, hurt, rejection, sadness, disloyalty. It feels like a bad dream, this couldn’t possibly be happening, not to me!
What are some issues around infidelity?
Certain ‘triggers and associations’ will remind the betrayed person of the affair, and this can prompt feelings of anger, hurt or rejection. These triggers can also be seen as signs of healing the hurt. If these feelings can be validated, healing can be much more effective. However, if these feelings are greeted with ‘I thought you were over that, or how many times have I explained that to you’, then that will stall and damage the healing process and overall relationship.
Trust needs to be rebuilt, honesty needs to prevail, and transparency rather than ‘blind spots’ needs to be a focus. In face of this, the couple needs to give themselves permission and time to deal with the situation in their own way and heal together.
The aftermath around infidelity include:
- Betrayal of me, our family, our lives.
- Disloyalty, how could you?
- No trust, will they do it again?
- Lack of respect.
- Anger that you have been put in this position that you may have to make a decision etc.
- Lifestyle changes.
- Pending separation.
- Uncertainty about the future.
Some tips to help you through infidelity…
- Surround yourself with people that make you feel good about yourself.
- Take time out.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Get tested for STDs and HIV.
- Be patient, time has miraculous healing powers.
- Do not seek revenge.
- Stay positive about life by recognising your own self-worth.
- Visualise and work toward a happy outcome, if you decide to remain in the relationship.
- Seek professional help to help you move forward.
If you can relate to any of the issues above, then it is very important to get help in exploring and understanding what has happened, and how this is affecting you now.