5 Steps to Take When Your Spouse Cheats
You’ve just found out your spouse has been unfaithful. You feel nauseous, hurt, and betrayed. You want to know why. His or her affair is painful to think about, you want to know how to move forward. What should you do when your spouse cheats?
1. Take care of yourself
Stress caused when yours spouse cheats can cause all sorts of physical issues. Beyond nausea or shakiness, you may experience diarrhea, difficultly sleeping, lethargy, binge eating, or find it hard to eat at all.
It will be hard, but you need to force yourself to do what is right for your body even when eating healthy foods and maintaining a regular sleep and fitness schedule is the last thing you feel like doing. Physical well being will enable you to cope better mentally, but deteriorating physical health can easily escalate emotional distress.
2. Ask questions
While at first you might be burning to know… asking might actually be a little scary. Maybe part of you wants the answers… but at the same time, part of you doesn’t. Either way, there’s probably no simple explanation for it when your spouse cheats. Be aware that he or she may not really have a satisfying answer. Whether or not you can determine if it was because of problems within the marriage, or perhaps due to lingering issues from childhood, asking questions will help you better understand your wayward spouse.
3. Avoid blame
Not only does blame take up a lot of energy at a time when you probably have little to spare, it encourages other people who know about the situation to become very emotionally invested. Family members may hold a grudge for longer than you do! It will also add to the stress felt by your children, if you have any.
Try not to get too hung up on the “third person” when you’re talking about the infidelity. Curiosity about the “other person” is natural when your spouse cheats, but bringing him or her up repeatedly shifts the spotlight away from you and your spouse. Belittling or criticizing this person will also put your spouse on the defensive, so it’s a much better idea to focus your questions on the really important thing: the two of you!
4. Don’t make any big decisions just yet
Especially if you’ve been married for a few years or more, unhooking your life from someone else’s is more difficult (and painful) than trying to untangle knotted hair. Are you in a financial position to live on your own, and if so, where?
Beyond such pragmatic concerns, is it really “worth it” to throw your relationship away? After careful rumination, you might find that the answer is yes. But you might not. While ending the marriage when your spouse cheats might seem reasonable in the heat of the incident, you’ve doubtless spent a lot of time and invested a lot emotionally in the relationship. If you want to, you can heal and repair your marriage.
5. Seek professional help
When your spouse cheats, you probably feel alone and maybe a little helpless. While friends and family members will doubtless have lots of thoughts and advice to give (solicited or otherwise!), it’s probably best to share this sensitive information carefully. Professional help is out there to help you with your questions and come to solutions. Marriage counselors offer an unbiased perspective that will help keep you on the right track. Couples therapy, as well as individual sessions, will help both of you. Infidelity can be extremely emotionally distressing and if you find yourself jumpy, snappish, or feeling like you’re walking on eggshells, you may find treatment for post-traumatic stress helpful too.