Managing a spouse’s infidelity is one of life’s most stressful events. Follow these steps to cope with the situation…
Do not make any major decisions
According to research, do not quickly think about ending your marriage now just because your spouse has been unfaithful. This is the time to do some reflection on your marriage to see what other issues other than this infidelity need to be recognised and dealt with.
Understand that feelings are neither right nor wrong
Accept that your feelings of rage, uncertainty, shock, agitation, fear, pain, depression and confusion about having an unfaithful spouse are normal. You will be on a roller coaster of emotions for a few months and possibly even up to a year or two afterwards.
Take care of yourself
You may have some physical reactions to the infidelity such as nausea, diarrhoea, sleep problems (too little or too much), shakiness, and difficulty concentrating and not wanting to eat or overeating.
Balance is key
Despite your pain, you must force yourself to eat healthy foods, stay on a schedule, sleep regular hours, get some exercise each day, drink plenty of water, and have some fun.
It’s still okay to laugh
Watch some funny movies or TV shows. Spend time with people who make you smile. Life goes on in spite of heartaches and unfaithful spouses.
Begin a journal
Write down your thoughts and feelings about your spouse’s unfaithfulness. Ask all the questions you want. Talk with your spouse about the infidelity. However, you may have to accept that your spouse may not know why the infidelity took place or may not want to reveal this to you.
Do not try to get through coping with unfaithfulness alone! However, don’t shout from the highest mountain to all you know that your spouse is an unfaithful jerk. Carefully choose whom you will share this information with. Knowing the type of infidelity sometimes makes understanding it easier and counselling can help get answers to questions.
Take it one day at a time
You and your spouse should both be tested for AIDS/HIV and STDs before you resume sexual intimacy without protection. Consider what boundaries you need in your marriage in order to stay in the marriage. You might wish to contact an attorney and get these documented in a postnuptial agreement.
Your children need to know that you are going to be okay
You can’t hide the fact that you are going through serious stress or trauma. Being honest with your children might be the best approach depending upon their age, but don’t weigh them down with details. Also, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
Try not to get into the blame-gaming
It is important that you do not get yourself worked up over who or what caused the infidelity. It’s just wasted energy and it will not change anything. Also, think twice before you tell your family or your spouse’s family about the infidelity. Family members can often hold grudges for a long time.
You may have post-traumatic stress
If you are jumpy, yell at trivial actions, feel like you are walking on egg shells, and continue to have physical reactions when you are reminded of the infidelity, see a physician as soon as you can. Medication, even temporarily, might be a good idea.
It takes time to get beyond the pain
Don’t expect the mixture of feelings, the sense of confusion and limbo, and the mistrust to go away just because you’ve tried to forgive your spouse and made a commitment to save your marriage. The stages of death and dying (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) are part of the grieving process. It doesn’t mean your marriage can’t be renewed and strengthened, because it can. But, it will be different. Remember that your marriage has changed. You will need to grieve that loss.
Should you decide to end your marriage, look at your finances, housing situation, transportation, etc. Make sure you have thought out where you will live, if you have enough money to pay for your essentials, etc.