You\’ve seen all the signs. All the sudden he\’s working out when you could barely get him to walk to the end of the driveway to pick up the newspaper. He seems emotionally and sexually withdrawn when he used to want sex all the time. He\’s constantly on his computer or cell phone and he\’s guarding his privacy on both. He\’s angry about things that never used to bother him. And the classic: he\’s working late a lot.
These are all indications that he\’s cheating—and it could just as well be a â€˜she\’ who\’s cheating. Unfaithfulness comes in either gender. But before you make an accusation, be sure you have some concrete evidence. When you do, you wonder why this happened. What is the problem in your marriage that caused him to stray? Is it just the way he is, vulnerable to affairs? Or something in his past, totally unrelated to you or your marriage?
It is useful to find out what the cause is, if you can learn from it. And not beat yourself up emotionally. But it is not useful to play the blame game—if only that horrible woman hadn\’t lured him away from you. Or if only he had a responsible bone in his body. Whatever excuse you want to concoct will probably not be helpful.
So how do you get over the hurt and carry on? Certainly counseling will help you get through this difficult period. Here are some more suggestions:
1)Â Â Â Take some time out. Don\’t make any major decisions right away. You may be tempted to end your marriage immediately, but this is not something to do in haste. You can always end it later if need be. But take some time to reflect on your marriage and what issues you and your spouse need to deal with now.
2)Â Â Â Let your emotions run their course. You will be angry, shocked, humiliated, depressed, confused, enraged—any number of feelings will run through your head. Let them, but take care of yourself in the process. Beware of binge eating or drinking as a way of reducing stress. Try to stick to a healthy routine while you absorb the shock of what\’s happened in your life.
3)Â Â Â Get the facts. You are entitled to know what happened and to ask your spouse all the questions you want. He may not know all the answers, including why he started the affair in the first place. Counseling will help.
4)Â Â Â Be honest with family and friends. You may want to keep this to yourself, but your best friends will notice something\’s wrong. Don\’t try to go through this alone, and don\’t add to your trauma by lying to your friends that everything\’s okay. But do think about what to tell them. You may say your marriage is going through a rocky time and that\’s all you want to talk about at the moment. Think carefully about what information you want to share and with whom.
5)Â Â Â Safeguard your health. Unpleasant as it is, you have to think about sexually transmitted diseases and deal with the fact that he has put you at risk by his behavior. You should both be tested before you become sexually intimate.
6)Â Â Â Remember time really does heal. You can\’t imagine ever feeling good again. Your stomach is constantly in knots and you wake up with a black cloud over your head every morning. But hang in there until that cloud becomes grey and then lighter and lighter. Try to be patient. It may take a long time to recover. But you will laugh again. You will be carefree again. Have faith in your ability to heal.
Your marriage has changed and so have you and your spouse. You have suffered a loss, something like a death, and you need to grieve accordingly. Some marriages can\’t survive such loss. But, if you want to continue your marriage, you have to find a way to forgive your spouse. And you both have to have an understanding of how you want your marriage to be going forward.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.Â If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.Â You can reach her here:Â http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.