When infidelity occurs, it is one of the most painful experiences a relationship will probably ever experience. When one partner is unfaithful, it can shatter a relationship and leave the other person wondering whether it is worth salvaging. Dealing with infidelity in a relationship requires tremendous resolve on the part of the betrayed party. How do you let go of the past? How do you justify or understand why your spouse felt the need to cheat on you? Knowing where to start is often the most difficult thing.
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Once the affair is out in the open, either because your partner has come clean, or you have found out, how will you go about resolving it? How you deal with infidelity in your relationship has a lot to do with your feelings about your partner and your marriage.
But the biggest issue in dealing with infidelity is, can you truly forgive? And can you manage to let go? It is easier to say you will overlook it but to really erase it from your memory is a very difficult thing. It will keep coming back to haunt you and you will need to deal with it.
In such situations where you feel you can never, ever trust the person again, it's best to make a clean break and get out of the relationship. You cannot live your life in flashback mode, and those who have been cheated upon often talk of the scene of the crime replaying itself when they are intimate with their partners, and they just can't go on.
But in some cases, despite what your partner has put you through, you may still have very deep feelings for him/her. You may also feel that after five, ten or twenty years together you have a successful formula and it just needs a little tweaking. The affair was just a temporary aberration. Or maybe you're going to play the sacrificial lamb, and despite your feelings on the subject, you will give it another go because of larger considerations like the kids.
Assuming that despite the infidelity, both your partner and you have decided you still want to make your marriage work, there will be a lot of things to resolve.
1. If you've been cheated on
Give yourself time to work through your anger, resentment and hurt over the whole issue. Talk to your partner about it and let him know how let down you feel and how you will require time to heal.
If he hasn't already ended the affair or is dithering over it, give him an ultimatum . Be firm and let him know that you are willing to give it another try but he has to cut off all ties with his lover.
Discuss with your partner why he felt the need to stray. And beware, whatever happens, do not fall prey to letting the results of this discussion impact your self-esteem. Acknowledge that whatever needs your partner may have had that were not being met, he owed it to you to talk about it before resorting to cheating on you. After all, you may have also had certain needs that were unfulfilled, but you didn't have an affair, did you?
It may take some time for you to be intimate with him again and let him know that. Do not feel pushed into an intimate relationship for fear he might stray again. If that is the case, review your reasons for being in the relationship.
Focus on the positive aspects of your marriage and acknowledge that there may be problem areas in your relationship that need to be worked on. Introspect on how you will actively contribute towards helping to improve the quality of your relationship. Stop living in the past and letting it haunt you. Look to the future.
2. Set limits on inappropriate behavior
Make your partner understand that you have been willing to deal with his infidelity this time but you will not tolerate it happening ever again. There are non-negotiable boundaries that your partner has to respect if the relationship has a hope of surviving.
Together, both of you must reflect on the fact that you have decided to make a second attempt at your relationship and give it a fresh lease. Communicate and be transparent about your feelings and emotions. Make yourself available for the other, so that there is no question of looking elsewhere for emotional or physical intimacy. Do fun things together, enjoy each other's company. Marriage is a partnership, and to be successful, it involves understanding and making the other's desires a priority.