I imagine finding out your spouse or partner has cheated on you is akin to being punched in the stomach. You can’t catch your breath. You simply feel like the very oxygen you need to survive on- is not there. You gasp for air- and you simply can’t seem to get enough into your lungs to draw a deep and life-affirming breath. And after you are finally ready to formulate a sentence and think beyond how you will get out of bed in the morning- the question remains: Can you truly ever get back to the marriage you had; can you weather an infidelity and come out the other side a stronger and more united couple?
I believe it depends on the couple and just how much they have invested in their relationship and whether they can allow themselves to forgive such a breach of trust. The bottom line is allowing oneself to be intimate in any way with someone other than the person to whom you are committed is like taking a stake and driving it through the very heart and soul of your relationship. And while personally I can understand a scorned spouse’s quick decision to move out of the marital home she shared , according to Dr. Fran Walfish a couple CAN stay together despite an infidelity, if they are willing to follow these three tips.
#1 Accountability. the main ingredient that keeps together a couple in which one partner cheated is genuine accountability in the cheater. This person must truly own up to their mistakes and express empathy, compassion, and regret for how they hurt their partner. For example, I treated a couple in which the husband cheated. I told him what he did was wrong and that if she was willing to give him one more chance, he would have to demonstrate his remorse and give her time to reestablish trust. This husband cried real tears and talked to his wife about how sad he was that he deeply hurt her. He immersed himself into intensive individual therapy to understand the root cause of his infidelity.
#2 Bear Anger. Also, required is a sturdy ability for the cheater to bear and tolerate expression of direct anger from their partner whom he or she betrayed. Most people attempt to avoid, deflect, deny, and defend against a loved one being angry with them. A large part of the victim’s (any victim of a hurt) healing is in the ability to verbally blast the aggressor, or the one who caused the hurt. Your tolerance in bearing the intense emotions validates the victim’s feelings and facilitates the healing process. The cheating is a breach of trust. the hurt may never fully go away. but, it can heal and pain lessens in time.
#3 Reestablish Trust. Patience in the forgiveness process is also required. People generally do not forgive this type of betrayal quickly. During the forgiveness process some people who were cheated on do not want to sleep in the same bed as the cheater or engage in sexual interaction until trust has been reasonably reestablished. The cheater must exert genuine patience without pressuring his or her partner. He or she must want their partner to feel comfortable at all times. This shows your significant other that you truly care about their feelings and comfort level.
Do you think a couple can overcome an infidelity?