Infidelity can be devastating for a relationship. It may or may not affect both partners equally depending on their state of mind and how they feel for each other. The partner being cheated upon is obviously hurt and the cheating partner is expected to feel guilty. But the world is not simple black or white. There is a myriad of shades of grey and all other hues you can think of.
At the very outset, let us draw a distinction between cheating and infidelity. Cheating is a part of infidelity but not all instances of cheating can be termed as infidelity. Cheating could be a onetime aberration. It could be drunken banter leading to near stupor eventually culminating in sex. Do not presume though that a onetime affair is always borne out of liquor and harmless flirting, immaturity or lack of reasoning at the specific point in time. However, onetime aberrations don’t necessarily imply that the man or woman is promiscuous.
Infidelity is more than just cheating. It is a habit. It is a practice that a person cannot help but indulge in. Infidelity is not about slipping on one rare occasion or falling for the charms of an irresistible person. Infidelity will have the person seeking out potential affairs. Often, the person is completely aware of the gravity of their actions and knows very well what the consequences can be. Those who mistakenly cheat in one rare occasion are often weak to contain their sexual urges. Infidels can control their sexual urges. They just wouldn’t or don’t want to.
Acknowledging the Condition
The reason why we illustrated the difference between cheating and infidelity is to help you acknowledge the fact that the latter is a problem that requires intervention. It is not about whether you choose to forgive your partner or would want to delve into your collective past to find the reason why your partner is an infidel. Accept at the outset that your partner needs therapy. It is the perennial urge to have sex or to have sex with multiple people to be precise, often trying to woo more than one person simultaneously. Infidelity is compulsive cheating. It is never about emotions and always about sex. It could involve monetary transactions.
Confront the reality, do not try to preempt the reasoning of your partner, do not try to shrug it off as a onetime aberration and definitely don’t jump to any conclusion when the truth reveals itself or you decipher it. Seek therapy for your partner and you could opt for counseling where you would be present as the intervention happens. More important than everything else, spend time with yourself. Do not try to entertain the whole world or invite everyone’s opinions. Just be yourself and ponder over what you want from here on.
To Stay or To Leave
The immediate reaction of anyone to infidelity will be anger, distrust, disbelief at times and a certain degree of hate. Whatever your immediate reaction is, try to calm down and don’t think too far into the future. You do not need to decide on everything about your life right away. You are the one who has time to take the call. It is your partner who is at your disposal. That is unless your infidel partner has chosen to end your relationship.
To stay or to leave actually depends on both of you and it starts with whether or not you can forgive your partner. Many people think they can forgive but they eventually cannot. You need to be sure of this if you can actually let it go. If you cannot let it go, then you ought to move on. Again, you should seriously consider the real fallouts of staying and leaving. Seek legal help, consult a marriage counselor if you want and discuss the scenario with your family and trusted friends.
Coping with Infidelity
1. It is not your fault.
This is the first truth you should accept. You may not have been having sex with your partner, your relationship may have been in trouble, you may have had fights and perhaps everything seemed downhill in your marriage. Nothing justifies infidelity, just as nothing in a relationship can justify violence. Your partner could have chosen to dissolve your marriage and then have a spree of affairs. Instead, he or she chose to cheat on you. It was their call and you have nothing to do with it.
2. Do not blame yourself but do not go on avenging your partner’s infidelity either.
Some people think they would get over it by having sex with someone else and contemplate various such escape routes. There could be a sense of some immediate satisfaction, as is the case with all forms of revenge or getting even, but the long term consequence is undesirable.
3. Do not get violent or abusive.
They don’t serve any purpose. Don’t be vengeful as you would only make matters worse for yourself. Do not say things, specifically threats that you don’t intend to follow up on. It is very hard to contain the thoughts and to consciously check what one says. But you have to make the effort. The more you contain yourself, the better your reactions and subsequent actions will be. After all, your partner has already cheated on you, there is nothing you can do to undo it and hereon it should be about your wellbeing. Your focus needs to be on everything that is necessary and beneficial for you.
4. Do not bring in the entire family while dealing with the complex situation unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
There are couples who simply cannot see eye to eye, get abusive and violent when they are together or in some instances the cheating partner tends to get the better out of a situation always because the mistreated partner is just too nice, weak and possibly naïve. Any woman or man who thinks they need someone to represent them during coping with infidelity should get such help. It could be parents, siblings, cousins, friends or even colleagues. A good neighbor can also be of great help provided he or she is capable to handle an infidel. It must be noted that infidels are rarely dull or stupid people.
Decide if you wish to work it out and find out what your partner wants. The future cannot be decided by either one of you. The reins will mostly be in your hands but your partner’s genuine choice needs to be known. Else, everything would again lead to nothing. If you wish to stay and work it out, be strong and forgive your partner. You cannot live with someone while continuously thinking of how they have cheated on you.
If you wish to break up or dissolve your marriage, then you should sort out your finances, ensure you have everything that is yours and give no quarter to your partner. Don’t be vengeful, do not be vicious and definitely move on from feeling miserable. However, you should seek legal help in all relevant matters and claim what you should within the ambit of law, be it property or child custody, ownership of movable assets or alimony.