Has your partner cheated on you? Is he/she contrite? Do you love each other? Do you both want to repair your relationship? Are you willing to do the necessary work? Is forgiveness a possibility? If you can say “yes” to these things, then you have a chance to not only preserve your relationship, but to make it even better. The most important thing is that both of you want it and are commited to it. If that commitment is strong, the crisis could lead to something really good.
Contrary to what some believe, it’s not all on the “cheater” to make that happen. Both of you need to delve into yourselves and your relationship to uncover issues you might have swept under the carpet, allowing them to fester until something had to give. Because relationships are a 50/50 proposition, both of you need take responsibility for your part in making it what it was. Even though the relationship might not have been the primary reason one partner strayed (there could be many), there is no such thing as a perfect relationship and the crisis is good opportunity to change what wasn’t working.
One thing that often happens when someone cheats is that the “betrayed” partner thinks they want, and have the right to know every gory detail about the affair, and that their questions should always be answered no matter how long it’s been and how many they’ve already asked. I think this is destructive. Why on earth would you want to know stuff that is guaranteed to hurt you?…”Was he/she a better lover than me? How often did you do it? Were they smarter, funnier, sexier, richer, better looking? Where did you meet? Was it more exciting than when we first met?” Wow…this stuff is lethal. And I ask you…how are you going to feel when you get your answers? Rotten! That’s how. Not only will you feel rotten, but your partner will too, and two rotten people don’t make for a very happy union.
I never asked these kinds of questions when my husband cheated. I knew the answers would devastate me and frankly, I’d been hurt enough. I also knew that going over the details with my husband, ad nauseam, would make him feel even more guilty and bad about himself than he already did, and because I wanted our relationship, that would not have been good for either of us. I wanted us to move forward, which was not possible if I was endlessly looking back.
To summarize, infidelity doesn’t have to be a death knell to your relationship. It can in fact, be the impetus for making your relationship better than ever. This is a big storm, and weathering it could bring you big results. The bigger the catastrophe, the bigger the opportunity for positive change. It could be a beautiful thing.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, to learn how my husband and I got through our crisis and made our bond stronger than ever. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com