It’s no secret that stress impacts our thought processes. Our fight-or-flight response is designed to save our lives. We perceive a threat and our minds and bodies prepare for danger.
But what about a non-physical threat? What happens when your partner sits you down and confesses his or her infidelity?
Such shock to your system is no less stressful. Similarly, your decision-making process is temporarily derailed. A wide range of ill-advised reactions may suddenly feel plausible or justifiable.
But take a breath. Slow down.
If you are in the midst of such a trauma, it may help to ponder your options in the most practical way you can.
Laying the Groundwork
No relationship is immune to conflict. It helps to have a history of healthy communication to lean on. If you and your partner have practiced an open and honest form of interaction, this can make recovery possible. At the moment, nothing may ease the shock. Over time, though, you’ll have a foundation to lean on and to build on.
Part of the communication groundwork involves defining what “infidelity” means to you as a couple. Especially in the age of technology, cheating is in the eye of the beholders. You may see infidelity only as being sexual with another person. But there are other behaviors to consider, e.g. flirting, texting, sexting, and so on. Be clear right up front where you both stand on this explosive issue.
7 Common Mistakes to Avoid After Your Partner Confesses to Infidelity
1. Emotional Punishment
Lashing out would feel so good, right? Verbal attacks, passive-aggressive jibes, posting about it on social media — the options feel endless. And you may feel justified in getting even. Iff reconciliation is your ultimate goal, however, these options are counterproductive.
2. Not Setting the Agenda for Recovery
You’re the one who has been wronged. Therefore, you have the right to:
demand full disclosure of details
change phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
insist your partner cuts off all contact ASAP with the affair partner
seek support from whoever feels appropriate
These are just a few examples. Take control — not for revenge but in the name of healing.
3. “Getting Even” With Your Spouse
It’s never a good idea to suddenly begin flirting, posting sexy social media pics, or even pursuing your own affairs. Again, it may feel tempting in the immediate aftermath. Resist this dangerous temptation.
4. Letting Your Spouse Rush You
You will “get over it” and “move on” when you’re good and ready. Your partner betrayed you. Hence, they have relinquished any right to set guidelines for resolution. Pay attention to your own needs and emotions. Grieve and move forward in ways that are healthy, supported, and productive for you.
5. Contacting the Affair Partner
It’s virtually impossible to see how this can lead to anything productive. Once again, you may be tempted but it’s best you not give into volatile or unproductive interaction.
6. Blaming Yourself
It’s not your fault. Nothing you did “made” your partner cheat on you. Do not let anyone gaslight you, shame you, or bully you into accepting responsibility for your partner’s betrayal.
7. Forgiving Too Quickly
Your spouse owes you a sincere apology. This apology must be coupled with actionable promises to change. However, not all post-cheating marriages can be saved. Don’t be rushed or guilted. This is the ideal time to seek professional counseling. Forgiveness is a process of facing relationship realities, working through emotions, and reaching a point of internal resolution and release, regardless of whether you and your partner reconcile. This takes time and, ideally, the support of a qualified therapist.
Asking For Help: Individually or as a Couple
Relationship issues are usually tough to resolve from within. In the case of cheating, there can be so much damage done. Asking for outside help becomes a requirement.
Individual therapy can benefit a betrayed spouse’s struggle with anger or depression or the unfaithful partner’s issues with shame and remorse. In this setting, they can better process the betrayal and fully grasp what they seek from their partner. In addition, couples counseling can become a safe, therapeutic place for struggling partners to make productive steps toward a happier future.
Yes, counseling can be uncomfortable. However, there’s a lot of work to be done if you are dealing with infidelity. Work that needs your full commitment. With help, couples counseling can supply the guidance and redemption you’re longing for.