Infidelity can shake a relationship to its core. Read on to learn when a marriage can and should survive after a partner has been unfaithful.
Finding out your partner was unfaithful to you might be one of the most heartbreaking moments in life. It can be shocking, confusing, mind-numbing, and even sad. And in the midst of the situation, there might be some questions swirling in a person's mind.
Why me? Why did they cheat? Did I cause this? Am I not good enough for them? Am I worthy of love and respect? How do I/we survive this? Where did it all go wrong?
The great memories you shared don't feel real anymore. Can your marriage survive when your partner has been unfaithful?
Keep reading to find out.
Reasons Why Some Partners are Unfaithful
One or both spouses in 41 percent of marriages admit to physical or emotional infidelity. 22 percent of married men admit to straying at least once whereas married women are at 14 percent.
Dissatisfaction in the Relationship
Couples in struggling relationships may fight every day about big and small issues. These can be about money, raising kids, or where to spend the holidays. Others feel dissatisfied with the quality of sex with their partners.
This breakdown in emotional connection pushes them to seek new partners to fill the void. New partners reignite the spark they crave in their current relationships.
The risk of infidelity rises in specific situations. For example, the CDC reports that excessive drinking leads to risky sexual behaviors. This may include having sex with multiple partners or failing to use protection.
An Individual's Nature or Personality
Some people cheat because it's their nature. The body releases the hormone dopamine during pleasurable moments. Scientists believe gene variations play a role in infidelity and sexual promiscuity.
It feels unnatural to curb their instincts in favor of a monogamous relationship. As such, they don't hesitate when extramarital opportunities arise.
Changes in culture continue defining what is now acceptable to the public. These changes are due to factors such as the internet, access to media, and the power of Hollywood.
Thus, we see people who choose open relationships. Others think cheating is okay as long as their partner doesn't find out. We also have media houses pushing stories about marriage not being important.
These assaults on marriage and changing attitudes are putting more pressure on couples. In the end, their commitment to one another will determine if one will remain faithful.
Recovering From Infidelity in Marriage
Infidelity can make spouses feel grief, anxiety, stress, anger, and insignificance. Other effects may be distrust, retaliation, depression, and obsessing over the betrayal.
It creates an environment that threatens the well-being and safety of the spouses. Moreover, it harms extended family relationships and friendships. If you are a prominent person, it brings shame.
Can a marriage survive when a partner is unfaithful? It depends on many factors. If the couple is willing to find solutions, there are some steps they can consider. These include:
Forgiveness is the glue that binds relationships and helps people overcome their differences. It allows people to release pain, shame, and feelings of injustice. It breaks down the barriers that hinder growth in a relationship.
Without forgiveness, you remain a victim of the betrayal and of the relationship. Forgiveness opens the room for dialogue. It doesn't mean you have forgotten the pain. It is an opportunity to begin the process of repairing the damage. That's not to say it will be easy. Far from it!
2. Taking Responsibility
It will take time before the raw emotions subside. Once that happens, the partners should find a way to talk. The cheating partner has to take responsibility for their actions. The first step is to end the affair immediately.
Second, the couple should talk about why the affair happened. Being brutally honest reveals every hidden thought or feelings. The partner who strayed has to show a change in attitude. They must want to make things right. It is one of the steps for beginning the process of rebuilding trust.
The other partner has to feel comfortable enough to come out of their protective shell. It's human nature to guard ourselves against more pain. Thus, be patient as you work out the problems in your relationship.
3. Confide in a Marriage Counselor
While running to our friends during times of distress works, it may not be a good idea in cases of infidelity. This is because you might find out your friend was the one having an affair with your spouse.
Moreover, disingenuous friends might share this confidential information with other people. This causes shame and embarrassment, which is the last thing you need in this trying time.
Instead, go to a reputable marriage counselor and ask for help. The counselor guides you through dealing with your pain. They create a positive environment where both spouses can talk about their relationship.
Another benefit of a counselor is to help you fix the cause of the infidelity. People try to move on from affairs instead of dealing with the reasons why the affairs started. Sometimes, the cause won't be clear to either of you. But through the counseling process, you'll unearth and resolve underlying issues.
4. Set Time for Recovery and Rebuilding the Marriage
The betrayed partner needs time to recover. Thus, the straying partner should give them time and space to work out their feelings. It is a painful process.
Both partners need to discuss their roles in rebuilding the relationship. Old foundations may reignite bad memories. New foundations for the relationship need to be based on respect and commitment. Define your expectations going forward.
While rebuilding the relationship, you may discover you are no longer invested in it. In that case, you should be honest with your partner. It is a sign that it may be time to move on.
Learn More About Relationships and Counselling
Finding out about an unfaithful partner can be traumatizing. Many couples manage to work through this betrayal and establish stronger bonds. If both of you are willing to fight for your relationship, there's a chance you can make things right.
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