Will your spouse’s affair mean the end of your marriage? Will it be something that changes you in a negative way or will you learn from the experience and move on to become a stronger more resilient person?
Whether you successfully navigate the adversity caused by his/her infidelity depends on you and the way you normally deal with periods of adversity. People who are able to move on and repair their marriage or, divorce and rebuild their lives are of a particular breed.
Those who heal after adversity focus on finding a solution to the problem instead of focusing on the problem. In other words, if you are someone who can’t let go of the idea that your spouse was unfaithful you will have a harder time healing.
If you are someone who focuses on rebuilding the lost trust and stay open minded about finding solutions you are more likely to save your marriage and heal. The good news is, we can all be solution oriented folks. We can all develop the insight needed to work through marital infidelity and either save a marriage or move on to rebuild and be productive in life.
The first place to start is with empathy for yourself and your spouse. I truly believe that the first step to healing from any kind of betrayal is an understanding of not only our own feelings but the feelings of the one who betrayed us.
People who are empathetic are sensitive to their experiences and the experiences of others. You’ve heard the old saying, “walk a mile in my shoes?” This can’t be truer than when attempting to find solutions to marital problems that damage the trust we have in a partner.
So, I urge you to not only be gentle with yourself but to put effort toward empathizing with the spouse who has hurt you. Doing so leaves little room for anger to take hold, anger that can keep you focused on the problem instead of solutions to the problem.
Below are a few suggestions that will help you during the healing process:
- Surviving doesn’t always mean saving your marriage. Surviving can mean building a more honest marriage after the infidelity. Or, divorcing and leaving the marriage more aware and prepared for your next relationship.
- Your thinking during times of emotional stress is distorted. Be sure your reaction to your spouse’s infidelity is measured and sensible and not out of anger and pain.
- Infidelity is not the end of your world. It is the end of your world as you know it but there is life after infidelity and accepting that can play a major role in how well and how quickly you heal.
If you engage in doomsday thinking, the idea that infidelity is the worst thing that could have happened you will continually live with the belief that he/she will do it again, that another marital disaster is right around the corner. The trick is to remember that as a result of the infidelity you have the opportunity to strengthen your marriage or move on to a new life as a stronger person.
There are different paths to healing after infidelity. You may choose to work together as a couple and rebuild your marriage. You may decide, after much thought that it is in your best interest to leave the marriage. Whether you stay in the marriage or leave, your attitude toward what happened is the single most important predictor of how well you heal from the adversity.
Bottom line, if you are negative, hostile and angry you will be in pain for a long time. If you are emotionally resilient, are able to accept that the infidelity is nothing more than a blip on your life path you will heal more quickly.