Relationships require a lot of work and compromise. Even then, problems will arise to threaten your bond. One of the biggest deal-breakers of all is infidelity. When one partner cheats on the other, it is a severe betrayal of trust. Discovering an affair is often the end for many couples. But it does not have to happen, and if it does, it does not have to mean it’s over for your relationship.
Couples can set themselves up to reduce the likelihood of infidelity. To work toward that end, let’s explore some of the issues related to this touchy topic.
Roughly 85 percent of Americans will eventually get married. However, according to studies, at least 20 to 25 percent of married women and 20 to 40 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair of some kind. Surveys show that 53 percent of single women and 60 percent of single men admitted trying to lure someone who is currently married.
Of course, all the research in the world can’t calculate the instances when the affair is never discovered or admitted. When they fall in love, most people convince themselves that nothing like this will occur in their relationship. Making fidelity a reality requires commitment, honesty, and hard work.
What Does Infidelity Mean to You?
Despite what you might think, infidelity does not mean the same thing to every couple. An excellent first step toward not becoming one of the statistics is to talk openly about your expectations. Some factors to consider:
- Some couples decide to be open or polyamorous. Thus, they choose what constitutes cheating.
- There are countless opportunities to initiate long-distance infidelity in the digital age, even sitting next to your partner on the couch.
- Easy access to Internet pornography is another new wrinkle in this conversation.
- Then there’s the concept of emotional infidelity, which includes none of the sexual behaviors typically assigned to an affair.
Again, you may fully believe your relationship will never experience such a betrayal. However, it is better to be open and honest about expectations and commitments. Laying down ground rules can help you avoid confusion and dishonesty in the future.
How to Address Infidelity
The cheating spouse:
- End the affair and cut off all contact with the other person.
- Become fully transparent, answer all questions, and end the deception.
- Take ownership of actions, show remorse, and sincerely apologize.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Show a clear commitment to learn, change, and evolve.
The betrayed spouse:
- Set the agenda for what happens next.
- Do not let anyone deflect or derail your pain, anger, and grief.
- Never be rushed to “get over it.”
- Do not seek revenge of any kind.
- Avoid self-blame.
Together, the couple will need time to decide on a few very important issues:
- Firstly, do both partners want to stay together? If so, patience will be the key. This is not a process that has a fixed time frame. The goal is never a quick fix.
- Depending on the circumstances, you may need to get tested for STDs.
- Be cautious when taking advice from outsiders. Even the most well-intentioned can be biased in a way that leads to questionable input.
- Commit together to couples counseling. You may wish to reconcile and move forward as a couple. It’s possible that at least one of you can’t see a future together. So, whether it’s repair or closure, an experienced therapist can help you find what you need.
Get the Help You Need and Deserve
If your life has been shattered by the betrayal of infidelity, I invite you to reach out as soon as possible to talk. Let’s get you started with a free and confidential consultation.