So Your Husband Cheated, Now What? Here's How To Heal After Marital Infidelity
You’ve probably heard stories of men being emotionally intimate with women other than their wives via online chat or text, or husbands pretending to be hard at work but in truth are hard for someone else, or the hubby who’s being cuddly with another lady.
You may have witnessed the whole half-a-decade-long saga of how your best friend initially had suspicions, how she repeatedly denied and brushed aside evidence from friends, and how she eventually unequivocally confirmed (and admitted to herself) that her husband was indeed cheating when she came home one day only to find that her husband and some other woman just came… inside their own home.
It’s scary. It’s ugly. It’s difficult. You decide that you won’t let it happen to you. You just cannot let it happen.
It’s true. No one wants to be in this situation. Well, reality check: it does happen. And it can happen even to the best of us.
If it happens to you (but I hope not!), what would you do?
After the initial shock, the messy fights, the hurtful shouting matches, the ugly crying, or the freezing cold shoulder, you eventually will have to face the dreaded crossroad. After everything has been said and done, you both have to move forward.
In moving forward, you and your spouse will have two options: either you keep the marriage intact, or decide to end your marriage. Some couples can foresee complete forgiveness as a possibility, yet some may believe that it will be so much better to call it quits than to be caught in a cycle of distrust and passive hostility. Whichever you choose, expect that neither will be a walk in the park.
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For various reasons, some couples decide to reconcile even after a traumatizing experience of marital infidelity. After all, showing mercy is considered the human thing to do. However, trying to make the marriage work after learning that your husband has had an affair can be extremely challenging. Four things to remember when deciding to heal together:
- Commitment. Once you make the decision to keep your relationship, you must commit to that decision. There will be sudden flashbacks and jolts of anger, I can assure you that, but part of your commitment towards healing and reconciliation is complete acceptance of the process. Part of this process are all the nasty thoughts and emotions that may leave you feeling unmotivated and defeated. When this happens, just let it be. It will pass. It is important to not ever lose sight of your goal.
- Communication. Talk to each other and make sure you listen. The key to seeing this through is being open, in good days and bad. It will not always be an upward spiral. On some days, you might feel like you’ve gone back to square one. Clearly communicate this to your partner so you can work through it together.
- Accountability. It’s not just the husband who needs to own up to his unfaithful actions. In this undertaking, both of you must own up to your emotional reactions, the words you utter in the heat of the moment, and every action you take each step of the way.
- Support. Both of you are, of course, each other’s support in this process. But, you do not have to do all the work on your own. Enlist the help of a professional to help you navigate this situation through counseling or therapy. Your counselor or therapist can be a neutral ear, an interpreter, or a mediator who can facilitate the resolution of your conflict as a couple, and your issues as individuals.
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Going separate ways
Extramarital affairs often end in separation. Couples decide on splitting after failing to work through this rough patch. There’s a reason why they would rather to go through a long and arduous process of annulment instead of choosing to stay together. Four things to remember when choosing to heal alone:
- Self-love. It’s common for wives who have been cheated on to feel shame and think that they are worthless and unlovable. When you catch yourself in this position, STOP. No matter how cliché, it has to be said: you are and will always be a beautiful being, inside and out. No other person can fully satisfy your need to be validated other than yourself.
- Self-forgiveness. It’s perfectly okay to prioritize your own welfare over others’. There’s no shame in choosing yourself, in choosing to be at peace, in wanting to be freed from all the toxicity. Sure, feelings of guilt may creep in. But these kinds of emotions are here to remind you of what you value in life—your relationships. And this is precisely why you chose to be here in the first place.
- Patience. At some point you might find yourself feeling impatient with how long it has been taking you to fully recover. It can be annoying and frustrating. The thing with moving on is that it’s never a linear, straightforward process. You move one step forward and take two steps back. Heck, you might even go full circle. There’s no formula for when you’ll be okay. Resisting the process, repressing your emotions, or forcing yourself to get over it will only exacerbate the situation. Respect your pace and trust that you will eventually heal, all in the right time.
- Support. You are never alone. Repeat this to yourself like a mantra, all day, every day. You don’t have to pick up the pieces all by yourself. Friends and family are awesome sources of support. If you’re spiritual, go to church and find comfort from the Divine. Finally, it does not hurt to seek professional help to journey together with you in your path to healing.
??Photo by Jasmine Wallace on Pexels
As with all things broken—in this case, your trust—fixing, rebuilding, and healing require work and take time. Just trust the process. As the song goes, “Live through this, and you won’t look back.”
Our Love & Sex Expert
Rica Cruz is a Psychologist, and Sex and Relationships Therapist with the Ateneo Bulatao Center for
Psychology Services. She is also a faculty member of the Department of Psychology at the Ateneo de
Manila University. Her expertise focuses on Filipino sexual behaviors with an emphasis on sexual
pleasure and relationship satisfaction.
FB Page: www.facebook.com/TheSexyMind
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