Some marriages are destroyed by infidelity. While the damage may be irreparable, fortunately, this is not always the case. Some couples are willing to commit the time and effort to save their relationship. Recovery after cheating isn’t easy, but it can be done if both parties are willing to make reconciliation a priority.
DO get tested for STDs
Men and women who engage in sexual infidelity are often careless about safer sex. As soon as you learn that your partner has been sexually unfaithful, you should visit your primary care physician, explaining the situation and asking for a full STD screen.
Understand that feelings are neither right or wrong
Accept that your feelings of rage, uncertainty, shock, agitation, fear, pain, depression, and confusion about having an unfaithful partner are normal. You will be on a roller coaster of emotions for a few months and possibly even up to a year or two afterward.
Infidelity is not a marital deal breaker
Many people think that affairs signal the end of a marriage. This is simply not true. Although healing from infidelity is a challenging endeavor, most marriages not only survive, but they can actually grow from the experience.
This is not to say that affairs are good for marriages — they aren’t. Affairs are very, very destructive because the bond of trust has been broken. But after years of working with couples who have experienced betrayal and affairs, I can vouch for the fact that it is possible to get marriages back on track and rediscover trust, caring, friendship and passion.
DO investigate your legal rights, even if you plan to stay together
Planning to stay together doesn’t mean you will. Betrayed spouses should always find out their rights in a potential separation, including financial and property concerns, and parenting issues if there are children.
Don’t be quick to tell friends and family.
It is important not to be too quick to tell friends and family about the problem of infidelity. If everyone in one’s family is apprised of the infidelity, even if the marriage improves, family members may not support the idea of staying in the marriage. They may pressure the betrayed spouse to leave.
So while emotional support during this rough time is absolutely necessary, it’s important to get professional help or talk to friends or family who will support the marriage and be less judgmental. Those people should have the perspective that no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and as long as the unfaithful spouse takes responsibility to change, marriages can mend.
Don’t try to get through coping with unfaithfulness alone! Don’t, however, shout from the highest mountain to all you know that your partner is an unfaithful jerk. Carefully choose whom you will share this information with. Knowing the type of infidelity sometimes makes understanding it easier and counseling can help get answers to questions. Was it a one-night stand or an affair? Did it come during or after a life crisis? Is a sexual addiction a possibility? Was it an act of retaliation? Did the cheating occur to end the marriage? Regardless, this may be the most important time to seek professional help.