Learning of a spouse’s infidelity can be one of the most devastating realities to face. Infidelity can happen for many different reasons, and none of them are good. Regardless of the reason for the affair to happen, the emotional toll infidelity takes on a person and the relationship is harsh. Infidelity robs a marriage of its foundation and calls everything into question. The security and safe place two people once had in their marriage is no longer there.
The healing process that comes after learning of a spouse’s infidelity isn’t so black and white. There will be many up’s and down’s as a person navigates through their emotions while addressing the situation. Once a relationship has been devastated by infidelity, individual healing has to take place before there is any chance at salvaging the marriage. There are a few main points to keep in mind while healing from infidelity.
Take care of yourself and put yourself first.
Infidelity is one of the most selfish acts a person can do in a marriage. So when healing from a spouse’s infidelity, remember to put yourself first. Your needs have to come first. Your emotions and well being need tending to. The only way a person will be able to overcome this difficult time in their life is if they are remembering to take care of themselves first, not the house, not the family, not the partner. Give yourself the opportunity to feel whatever you need to feel. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, eating properly, and surrounded by a good support system. Finding a healthy outlet like a hobby, journaling, or exercise are also some good practices in healing. Have a friend or family member around you can call at moments you feel weak. Taking care of yourself and having people who will help you do that sets the foundation for your individual healing process.
Communicate and address the reality.
Talking about the infidelity can be difficult and it will be super uncomfortable when addressing your partner. It’s important that both parties are able to sit down and effectively communicate in order to address the infidelity. You and your spouse most both be emotionally present during this conversation in order for it to work. The goal is to be able to process the situation and create understanding between you and your partner. There’s no “right” time to talk about infidelity, but it’s important to pick a day when you have the time and the head space for a serious conversation. It’s also important to be prepared mentally and emotionally to have the conversation. Answers to questions about the infidelity can be extremely painful to hear. This may stir up emotions and cause reactions that won’t be conducive to the healing process.
Determine where things stand.
If there is any chance of saving the marriage the status of the affair needs to be clear. Some questions that need to be answered include the following:
• Is the affair over?
• When did it end?
• How did it end?
• What has been done to ensure it won’t happen again?
Trust has been shattered, self-esteems have plummeted, and hearts have been broken. Those are just a few of what may be many questions that will be asked. It’s also important to determine if the marriage is worth saving. Is this something both parties are willing to work through? The history of your relationship will be crucial when analyzing the chance of rebuilding the marriage. Investigating the true reasons behind the infidelity and analyzing the emotional involvement between both parties will help to determine where the marriage stands.
Is there genuine remorse?
Has your partner expressed deep regret or remorse for the infidelity? Do they understand the magnitude of the poor choices they made and how it has affected the life you share together? Are they showing signs of willingness to put in the effort to fix what has been broken? True healing can only begin once the person who committed the infidelity takes full accountability for their actions and has expressed that openly with you. Having a partner who acknowledges your hurt will bring some calm to your heart and make the healing process somewhat easier to go through.
Choosing to forgive.
As hard as it may be to do, healing requires forgiveness. The biggest misconception about forgiveness is that when a person chooses to forgive someone, they are okay with the actions they are forgiving. “Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook; it is about letting ourselves off the hook,” Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. wrote in Infidelity & Forgiveness on Psychology Today. “Through forgiveness our hearts no longer have to endure the torture that comes from holding on to the violation. Forgiveness, if it has been properly earned, can be a healthy response to infidelity.”
By carrying resentment or anger, it weighs down on you and forces you to continue living in the past. Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is making the choice to give up your resentment. Keep in mind forgiveness will take some time, but if you do it right, you will come out of the situation a must stronger person.
Surviving through any infidelity in a marriage is hard. It will require a lot of work to move past it and it doesn’t all happen overnight. The heartache you may feel now won’t always hurt as badly as it may hurt now. Some days may be better than others, and that’s okay. Whether you decide to move forward in repairing the marriage or walk away from it, it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to grieve what you have lost.
No one is perfect, and sometimes really good people make really bad decisions. No one can tell you how you’re suppose to feel or move on from infidelity because it’s something that you have to determine for yourself. Couples who are able to work through the trauma of infidelity are not only able to reestablish their marriage, but they can bring it to a newer and healthier place.