When you find out your spouse has been cheating on you, it can leave you blindsided. If you had no idea about the infidelity, you may feel traumatized. How could this have happened?
You may feel as though your instincts have let you down. Why didn’t your gut warn you? Now, you may not be able to trust anyone. You may be considering divorce.
You may even develop a condition called post-infidelity stress disorder. This is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, in which sufferers relive the trauma of discovering their spouse has been unfaithful, much like surviving a car accident. You may start questioning everything.
What happens next? Here are some steps to take.
Take Care of Yourself
Knowledge of your spouse’s infidelity can be a huge shock. Such a disclosure can drain you of your energy, affecting you physically and mentally. During this time, you need to take care of yourself. Make sure to eat healthy and get adequate sleep. It is a good idea to get plenty of exercise as well. You should also make sure to have a support system in place. A mental health professional and a group of trusted friends and family members can help you get through this situation.
Give Yourself Time to Grieve
Infidelity is one of the biggest issues a marriage can face. It is the ultimate form of dishonesty. Not many couples get past this transgression. Because of this, you will need time to grieve. Your marriage is likely over. In any case, your relationship with your spouse will never be the same. Even with therapy, it can be hard to trust your spouse ever again. Your life will change forever, so take some time to deal with your marriage and figure out what your next steps will be.
Figure Out What Happened
Infidelity does not just randomly happen. When a person decides to cheat on their spouse, it is because there is something missing in the marriage. Maybe the marriage has become loveless. The spouse has sexual desire but feels neglected. Perhaps one spouse is struggling with physical or mental issues. Some people have resentment and anger toward their spouse. There may be self-esteem issues at play. In some cases, the person may simply be bored with their marriage and want to experience a relationship with someone new.
In any case, when cheating happens, it is best to get to the root of the problem. Otherwise, the cheating will only continue. If the issues in the marriage cannot be fixed, then it is best to end the marriage and move on.
Focus on Healing
During this step, the cheating partner needs to be honest with their spouse about what happened. What led to the infidelity? This will likely require couples counseling, as this is a difficult topic that you and your spouse may not be able to handle on your own. A counselor will help you through the healing process so you and your spouse can rebuild trust.
Forgiveness is an important part of the process but also a difficult one. For the person who had the affair, seeking forgiveness can be a vulnerable experience. It requires taking responsibility for their actions and facing the pain that they caused their partner. For the partner who was betrayed, forgiveness can be a difficult process, as there is often a lot of resentment and anger involved, and they need to let go of these feelings.
Make a Decision
After healing from the infidelity, you will need to make a decision. Will you stay or will you go? Avoid rash decisions. This is a decision that you and your spouse need to make together, and it may take time to do so. If you want to stay together, but your spouse does not, then the marriage will not survive. Some marriages can survive infidelity, but only when both spouses are committed to healing and rebuilding the relationship. It is even possible for the marriage to become stronger. Again, this will require significant effort on both parts.
In most cases, it is best to end the marriage, especially if the cheating partner is not willing to change their ways. Restoring trust is the hardest part of moving on after infidelity. Are you willing to learn to trust your spouse again?
Know the Signs
Many people get cheated on multiple times, unfortunately. Therefore, you should know the signs so you can trust your instincts. Some signs of infidelity include:
- State of contentment. If your partner suddenly seems happier than usual, it may be because they are getting their needs met elsewhere.
- Constant interest in your schedule. Your spouse may suddenly wonder where you are at all times. Are you at home? What is your schedule for the day? Your partner wants to know where you will be so you will not catch them cheating.
- Changes in schedules. If your spouse is suddenly working late or out of town for “business meetings,” this is likely a cover-up for cheating.
Seek Legal Help
Infidelity is a major issue that many marriages do not survive. Having a physical or emotional relationship with someone else is the ultimate form of dishonesty.
What will you do next? That is all up to you, but most spouses end the marriage. Considering divorce? Get the help you need from experienced Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. To schedule a consultation with our office, fill out the online form or call (954) 346-6464.