Three’s a crowd
When bonds are broken, it hurts. Be it the bond of friendship, love, siblings, parents or separation from grandparents by the fell hand of death. There are some bonds which are repaired, some which cannot be. Out of the relationships that most suffer from broken bonds, is probably that of marriage – simply by dint of involving two people who are not related.
Infidelity can really rock a marriage – and many couples never recover from the blow they are dealt by an unfaithful partner. Of course, this happens in a boyfriend-girlfriend pair as well but a relationship that is not bound by the sacred vows of marriage just doesn’t face the same repercussions. A marriage involves family and it is just not the two people who are affected.
However, if both partners are willing to commit to saving their relationship, marriages most definitely can survive infidelity. The wronged and betrayed partner must be open to forgiving his/her spouse and the infidel one must be empathetic.
For someone who has been betrayed, it is very difficult to reconcile with the partner at the beginning, once details of the betrayal comes to light. It is a time of great anger, hurt and tears. The best way to deal with this is to maintain some distance from your spouse. Being around the person who has hurt you only serves to increase the anger – and a bit of time and distance will help in introspection. Don’t make any major decisions about your marriage just yet, perhaps it is better to think about and reflect on the reasons behind this lapse. Mid life crisis, crisis of any kind – especially at the workplace, boredom, taking each other for granted etc. can be key elements behind an affair. Yes, while the person who has cheated is to blame for his/her actions, addressing the reason why he/she did so, is also important. Accept your feelings of rage and grief – it is normal to feel conflicted about your spouse. Don’t feel guilty about hating him/her for the worry he/she has invited into your life – you are well within your rights to feel this way. In the period of introspection that has been suggested surround yourself with your closest friends, talk of things other than your marital life – have fun, go for a movie or eat out. Take care of your emotional health as well as mental status and brooding alone will not help you in anyway.
Seek counselling professionally and maintain a journal – writing will help expressing your thoughts. If you have children, don’t involve them in the blame game, children do not need to know the messy details of their parents’ private lives – it is alright if they understand your sadness, but it is not necessary to put them through the bewilderment of knowing the details. Similarly, think before telling your family members – they tend to hold longer grudges. Work it out together if you want to. Also, if you feel this is not a relationship that you can sustain because of the broken trust and hurt and you want to leave, bear the practicalities in mind. If you have children, their future, your lifestyle and even where you will live, as well as finances should be taken into consideration before taking a final call.
Above all, do not consider retaliation and revenge by deciding to get physical with another person just to spite or hurt your partner the way you have been hurt. It might achieve your ends temporarily, but it will not do the relationship any good – in fact, it will probably damage it further. Healing from infidelity is very tough and slow and steady, discerning steps must be taken towards recovering.
While the partner who has cheated always has a story to tell, he/she is most often vilified for the lapse because it is, all said and done, extremely inconsiderate and selfish of them. Everyone has problems but cheating on a partner and allowing the opportunity of hurt to enter lives is never something that can be forgiven easily. It is up to the betrayer to be the bigger person here because he/she will be the target of a lot of scorn, anger and tears. However if you hang in there then there is a big chance your marriage might emerge stronger from this ordeal. Remember it is very difficult to regain trust, but you must work towards it. Cut off all contact with your lover and be honest about it. Report every chance meeting or interaction to your hurt spouse – this will go a long way into building trust. Also, be prepared to answer any questions regarding any details.
Studies have shown that this is another way for the hurt spouse to heal – by knowing all the details, as strange as that may sound. It probably will result in an outpour of anger and negative emotions but that works as a catharsis which helps absolve the hurt later. Above all, take responsibility for what you did, do not try and justify your actions – accepting that what you did was wrong immediately indicates that you are sorry and willing to rectify your mistakes. And don’t forget quick and easy forgiveness – give your partner enough time, as long as it takes, to deal with the hurt and recover. You owe it to her/him.