How to Carry on As a Couple after Infidelity
Part of the problem with dealing with infidelity is that every situation is different. Family wellness can be affected in different ways, and so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building your relationship back up again. However, by taking a look at other people’s experiences, you can at least learn something of what it means to restore relationship wellness, even after infidelity, and work out how best to proceed as a couple.
Let’s take the example of Anna (not her real name). Anna’s boyfriend of five years had cheated on a previous girlfriend twice before, though he had never cheated on Anna when they were together. A year ago, the couple took a break, during which Anna’s partner (let’s call him Nathan) slept with someone twice. He said he could have done it more often but didn’t, and Anna said she knew it would happen if they went on a break, but now she’s worried about others will think of her choice to get back together with Nathan.
So what can Anna do? Firstly, the fact that she expects disapproval from her loved ones indicates that she has her own doubts which she’s denying to herself. Also, expecting her partner to cheat, even during a break, signals to Nathan that Anna would accept this, and he’s allowed to carry on as he wants. If this sounds like your situation, taking it slow is advisable, especially if you are yet to speak honestly about why you needed the break, what mistakes you both admit to, and what negatives each believes the other contributed. Once you and your partner are happy – really happy – with how things are, you won’t have to prove it to anyone.
When an old classmate of Holly’s husband moved to town, Holly thought nothing of it when they went out together a few times. Each time, James brought his sister along with him, but Holly said that he acts strangely when James comes home, immediately going to bed without saying anything. When Holly confronted James, he admitted he was smitten although nothing has happened, but Holly is upset by his emotional cheating, and worried that forgiving him will make him think it’s ok to carry on.
However, calling him on it straight away will stop him feeling like it’s ok to pursue anything further. James admitted to it, which is a good thing, but he also needs to openly explain his attraction, and the couple both need to look at their relationship together. Equally, Holly needs to share how sensitive and insecure this makes her feel, and insist that they go out together, work on their intimacy, and hang out with James’ sister when she’s around.