Does Infidelity Have to Spell the End of Your Marriage?
Infidelity can ruin the trust in a relationship and cause intense emotional pain, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of your marriage. There are few problems in a relationship that cause quite the same level of heartache and upset as infidelity – the person that you’ve built your life with has betrayed you, and that is difficult to cope with. It undermines the very foundation of marriage. But how do you rebuild the relationship after this trust has been lost? There are ways to maintain your relationship and get past this indiscretion, if both of you are committed to doing so. With time and a mutual goal of holding onto your relationship, you can begin to forge a stronger and more intimate relationship. Infidelity isn’t a clear situation – what is considered to be cheating varies from person to person, and couple to couple. Is an emotional connection, for example, with someone else as bad as a physical one? Is it worse? Affairs are usually just about the fantasy – the person who is being cheated with is usually seen as an escape from the problems within the relationship, and is idealised as a result.
There are a number of reasons why people cheat, many of which aren’t actually to do with sex. Some stem from individual issues, such as sexual addiction, alcoholism or low self esteem. Others stem from problems that have been present for some time in the relationship and never dealt with, so they grow until a member of the marriage feels trapped and unable to fix them. Usually, the person who is having the affair is experiencing sexual attraction to someone else and decides to act on it rather than suppress the urge. They keep the affair going through lies and deception, and confide in someone other than their partner about their problem. They may develop an unrealistic view of the person and refuse to listen to advice to the contrary. They may also develop a strong emotional attraction to another person, highlighting problems within the marriage and making the person outside of the relationship seem idealised.
The discovery of an affair often triggers powerful emotions in both partners – these include shock, guilt, remorse, shame, anger and betrayal. During this time, it’s important not to make any rash decisions that you may later regret – if you think you may physically hurt yourself or someone else, speak to someone for some advice. This is time where you’ll both benefit from some space and time to think things over and decide what you want to do. Seek support from your friends, family or a professional who can offer objective support and advice. Remember, you don’t need to make any choices straight away – time can be a great healer, so don’t rush anything. If you decide that you do want to rebuild your marriage, you should seek the advice and help of a marriage counsellor who will be able to work through your issues with you. Be accountable for your actions – if you cheated, own up and accept responsibility. If you didn’t, but are aware of your part to play in the pitfalls in your relationship, look to where you can work on the issues and make the effort. Lastly, don’t hold grudges – if you’ve made the choice to stay and work things out, then you need to put your effort into building the trust again. Holding grudges and bringing up history in every argument will only keep the infidelity present and raw.