Are you’re left wondering how to cope after learning your spouse had an affair? Or perhaps you had the affair and are desperate to do everything in your power to salvage your marriage? If surviving infidelity is your main objective these days, then take solace in knowing that together, you and your partner can move forward. But trust me when I say you must have a plan!
You see, several years ago, I actually discovered that my husband John had been having an affair. I knew within a matter of weeks that I wanted to commit to trying to move past the affair. John expressed sincere remorse and I knew that he was truly upset about his actions and the pain he had caused.
Through a lot of counseling (both in person and online), John and I learned how to survive infidelity. I personally also learned how to forgive a cheater, and this ultimately contributed to saving our marriage. Keep reading to learn the exact tips my counselor gave me (plus a few of my own) to move forward.
It is important to realize that often times the infidelity itself doesn’t immediately lead to a divorce. Instead, it’s the issues that arise from an affair, and a couple’s inability to resolve them that will bring on a divorce.
Issues of trust, pain, and forgiveness can impede the process of moving forward in a relationship. If you both commit to a plan of action, you stand a much better chance of overcoming these issues.
The first step in surviving infidelity is to come clean. When you and your spouse are ready, it is crucial that you both sit down and have a completely open and honest conversation about the nature of the affair. You need to understand the nature of it, whether it was emotional, sexual, etc.
The second step is to allow and accept a period of grieving. The spouse who committed the adultery needs to allow their partner a time to grieve. The adulturor should never set the timer for this period either, but instead allow their partner as much time as they need. Trust, forgiveness, and intimacy are not going to magically reappear in the relationship until the wronged spouse is ready.
Also, it is important to realize that this grieving process will not be linear. What I mean by this is that there will be both ups and downs. Don’t feel discouraged if after a week of progress and encouragement, the wronged partner seems to take a few steps back. This is normal, don’t give up.
The third step in surviving infidelity is to respect boundaries. The wronged spouse is going to disconnect both emotionally and sexually, for however long they need. The adulturor must accept this and be present and supportive, yet respectful.
Lastly, if you are both determined to repair your marriage and move forward, be prepared to seal the cracks. You must both both be aware of what lead to the affair, so you can address the problems and fix them. You must also recommit to one another and be prepared to work together to move forward.
If surviving infidelity is something you and your spouse are struggling with, consider seeing a couples counselor. Counseling is great because it forces you to get to address the root of your issues.
If you are against counseling or not financially secure enough to afford it, consider some alternatives. One option is a great course available called Save My Marriage that you can check out here. A course allows you and your spouse to work out your issues together, but in the privacy of your own home. If you don’t want anyone else to know your dirty laundry, this is a great resource for you.
You can also look into Better Help, which is essentially counseling via your smartphone. Licensed psychologists are able to provide private counseling from the privacy and comfort of your home, all via text! And right now, they’re offering a week free after you sign up. You can read more about Better Help here.
So now that you have an idea of the steps you can take to move past the affair, you may be wondering how you will actually be able to forgive your cheating spouse. Know that despite forgiveness not being easy, it is entirely possible! And just so you know, being able to forgive a cheating partner is actually more beneficial to you than to them. Studies have found that those who harbor anger and grudges are more likely to be susceptible to depression and anxiety.
The first thing you should do to forgive a cheater is learn how to ignore and turn off your triggers. Some common triggers you may be experiencing are, thinking you see the lover in public, thinking your partner has wandering eyes, seeing happy couples and being a cynic, or simply comparing the “good ‘ol days” to your present.
All of these triggers will keep you feeling pessimistic, angry, and stressed. If you are able to take away the power these triggers hold over your mindset, you will find yourself able to forgive easier and quicker.
The second thing you should to do forgive a cheater is spend time focusing on yourself. This is my own personal advice and something that worked wonders for me. By spending time making myself feel good, I noticed I was able to diminish some insecurities that had developed as a result of the affair.
Do something that will make you feel proud of yourself and boost your confidence! I recommend taking a group fitness class you’ve always been too scared to try or picking up a new hobby. Anything that forces you to get out of your comfort zone a little and push yourself will work wonders.
Another step that will help you in your journey to forgiveness is to have an honest conversation, when you’re ready. I won’t go into much detail here as I am sure you have the point by now. But just make sure you get the closure you need to realize the affair is not your fault and make an educated and responsible decision about the future of your relationship.
The last step is to work on improving your relationship, which of course is contingent on whether your partner and you decide to stay together. By working on the relationship, it will bring you both closer together, help you appreciate the effort each of you is putting in, and help heal wounds. You and your spouse must work together to rebuild the connection and trust that was lost from the affair.
I hope that this information is helpful to your attempts at surviving infidelity. It is important to remember, that time really does heal all wounds. What feels like the end of the world now, may feel a whole lot different down the road. You must accept that you can’t change the past, but you can learn from it and create a brighter future.