Has your partner cheated on you? If so, you’re devastated, and tempted to quickly slam the door shut. But a knee-jerk response is not what you need right now. What you need is time. Time to let things settle. Time to have deep, honest talks with your partner. Time for self-exploration and discovery. Time to consider what you really want. Here are some questions to help you explore:
- Is the one who cheated contrite?
- Do you love each other?
- Do you want to repair your relationship?
- Are you willing to do the necessary work?
- Is forgiveness a possibility?
If you can both say “yes” to these things, then you have a chance to not only preserve your relationship, but to make it better. The most important thing is that both of you want it and are committed 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 things right. Both of you need to uncover issues that were swept under the carpet and bring them to light. If your bury them, they fester and erupt like a volcano in destructive ways.
Because relationships are a 50/50 proposition, you are both responsible for creating it. And you need to take responsibility. Know this: there is no such thing as a perfect relationship, and this crisis is a good opportunity to explore what wasn’t working and to change it.
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. That their questions should be answered no matter how long it’s been and how many times they’ve asked. I think this is destructive.
Why on earth would you want to know stuff 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. Getting these answers would be devastating. Haven’t you been hurt enough?
And what about your partner? If he/she is truly contrite, going over details, ad nauseam, is going to make them feel more guilty and worse than they already do. If you love them and they love you and you both want your relationship, this is not the way to go. It’s not possible to look forward if you are endlessly looking back.
To summarize, infidelity doesn’t have to be a death knell to your relationship. It can be the impetus for building something better. Weathering this big storm could bring big results. The bigger the catastrophe, the bigger the opportunity for positive change. I dare say, it might prove to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
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 ever stronger. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com