Perhaps no other feeling is as disappointing and painful as being cheated on by someone you love. There’s nothing like realizing the love and trust you willingly gave just ended up getting thrown down the drain.
So when a spouse commits infidelity, it is perfectly understandable – normal even – for one to consider whether he or she really wants to continue with the relationship or not.
As Boston-based professional divorce coach Laura Miolla puts it, “Your relationship is now compromised and tainted by betrayal and deceit. It’s easy to wonder ‘what did I do wrong?’ but their infidelity is not a reflection of you. It was your partner’s choice.”
So what do you do after finding out your significant other has cheated on you? HuffingtonPost gives us 9 helpful tips as shared by Miolla and several other experts.
1. Allow your partner to explain.
It’s easy to get angry and the idea of taking revenge might seem extremely appealing but believe us on this – giving your partner the chance to explain his or her side can be good for both of you.
Psychologist Helen Zielinski Landon explained:
“See if you can get your questions answered and if you feel that you can forgive and move forward with your partner. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. There will be work to be done, but it’s possible to find renewed strength in the relationship with new honesty, an appreciation for what could have been lost and a new commitment to improving your bond.”
2. Never blame yourself for your partner’s infidelity.
Sometimes victims of infidelity tend to blame themselves for their partner’s unfaithfulness but Miolla emphasizes such should not be the case.
“Regardless of the reasons why, your partner made a conscious decision to put their desires above the relationship and above you,” said Miolla. “Separate yourself from your partner’s choice. Accountability lies squarely with your partner and their decision. There’s no need to own their issues.”
3. Prioritize yourself.
Tracy Schorn, author of ‘Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life: The Chump Lady’s Survival Guide’ tells us that, at this point, it is crucial that you consider yourself as your foremost priority.
“You still love this person and that’s tragic and understandable, but right now you need to love yourself more and start enforcing your boundaries. This is essential whether you reconcile or end it. Discovery does not always lead to unvarnished honesty on the part of the cheater so put your shields up.”
4. Seek professional help if necessary.
Marriage and family therapist Leslie Petruk encourages seeking professional help so as to get some outside perspective on the matter. She said:
“This probably isn’t a journey the two of you can do on your own. A trained professional can help guide you through the difficult process of rebuilding trust.”
5. Consider this question: Is this the last straw or the first strike?
“If what happened to you is the last or the worst in a long string of smaller betrayals or abuses of your trust, then it’s probably time to go. Often there are signs and indicators that a relationship has run its course, but we are afraid to move on. See this as a great opportunity to move on; finally you have something solid to help propel you forward and compel you to leave,” said Landon.
6. Evaluate where the marriage failed.
While we’ve earlier pointed out that blaming yourself isn’t a good idea, it is nonetheless useful to assess where your marriage failed and learn from your flaws and imperfections.
“Both of you participated in the break down in the relationship, whether you stopped communicating honestly, didn’t resolve conflicts or just stopped caring. Whatever you decide, assess the part you played first.”
7. Decide what ‘moving on’ really means for you.
In the long run, it all boils down to your own personal definition of ‘moving on.’ Does that mean saving the relationship or ultimately ending it for good?
“Give yourself permission to feel what you feel, for however long you need to,” counseled Miolla. “Ask yourself, what’s most important to me in a relationship? What do I insist on? What are my boundaries and how much were they compromised by my partner’s decision?”
8. Should you decide to save the marriage, realize that you and your partner both have work to do.
Naturally, the offending partner should be willing to change and fix the wrongdoings. You, on the other hand, has the responsibility to give him or her the chance to prove himself or herself.
According to Petruk:
“There needs to be a willingness of both parties to dig into the hard conversations and gain an understanding of what put the relationship at risk. Both partners need a willingness to recommit and rebuild trust.”
9. Never stay just because you’re afraid of being alone.
Opting to start all over again with your partner may be the right thing to do in certain cases but this is something you should keep in mind – never stay merely because you fear being left on your own. It will never be worth it.
“Choose a path forward based on what serves you…and only you. Take the time to focus on yourself and what you need right now. Your best relationship should always be with yourself. And remember: there really are plenty of other fish in the sea.”
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