Ways & How

How to Deal with Infidelity in a Marriage

How to Deal with Infidelity in a Marriage

Figuring out how to deal with infidelity in a marriage is a great challenge. Infidelity can be one of the most difficult dilemmas faced by a married couple, and it is not easy to overcome. Whether it results from an affair, emotional intimacy with a person other than a spouse, or addiction to pornography (which is not considered infidelity by some but definitely belongs to the category), it is traumatic. Some marriages never recover; some couples manage to hold on but are never quite the same again; some not only survive, but actually thrive. How things ultimately work out depends entirely on the efforts and responses of both parties in the marriage. Should you find yourself in such a situation, you may be wondering what to do next. You would do well to consider the following scenarios:

  1. Hold on. When the affair is first discovered, there are bound to be many recriminations and much grief. This is normal. The injured spouse should be allowed to mourn and to experience the full brunt of the pain. He or she should not be forced to deny or suppress it.



    During this period, the unfaithful partner should not impose his or her expectations of carte blanche forgiveness and selective amnesia. Instead, there should be an all-out effort to win back the trust and love of the injured partner and total cessation of any habit or contact connected with the infidelity.

    a) Go for counseling. Counseling ensures that healing and the reestablishment of trust proceed under the guidance of a professional. Although many couples get by without outside help, such assistance can make the process smoother and quicker.

    b) Don’t expect your partner to change overnight. The injured spouse will continue to be hurt; the unfaithful partner will not change old patterns and habits in the blink of an eye. But both should make a genuine effort not to dwell on the past. Given that the wronged party is bound to regress repeatedly in the process, the unfaithful spouse should do everything in his or her power to make it up to him or her by being understanding, gracious, and compassionate. The unfaithful spouse shouldn’t feel condemned or demand instant forgiveness and forgetfulness; rather, he or she should work to restore trust by carefully avoiding the things that trigger unhappy memories or associations.

    c) Be vigilant about preserving the marriage. Don’t slacken in your efforts to make your relationship stronger than it was before. Keep the romance and fire alive; make time for each other; listen to one another, and serve each other’s needs. Continue to build on past successes, and to make and celebrate new ones. Never take each other for granted. Communicate your love clearly, consistently, and unceasingly.

  2. Break up. This is usually the first instinct of the injured spouse because of the great hurt caused by the infidelity. The unfaithful partner can never know the depth of the pain that the wronged spouse has to go through, and is usually oblivious to the consequences of the affair. If the unfaithful partner wants out of the marriage, here are possible steps for him or her to take:

    a) See a marriage counselor. Even if one or both partners don’t want to stay married, there are still things that need to be discussed, and issues that need to be settled for closure and so that the two can begin to heal as a couple or separately.

    b) Give it time. Don’t make hasty decisions during a crisis; you’re bound to make emotional judgments that you will regret later. If you need distance in order to heal (especially for the psychological and emotional safety of one or both partners), then arrange for a temporary separation with the understanding that this is only to allow for healing.

    c) If, after this period, you both decide that the marriage is definitely over, then proceed with the legal process to end it.

If there is something in the marriage that is worth preserving – most especially but not limited to children – if there is love, mutual respect, repentance, genuine remorse, and a desire to work things through, then a breakup is not the only way out. Staying married and working it out can give you a greater chance at happiness than going down a lonely road and starting over with someone else. Whatever you decide to do, it is in your best interest to learn how to deal with infidelity in a marriage effectively.

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