Filed in FAMILY by on December 5, 2010

How to deal with a cheating spouse
By Kemi Lawal
Sunday, 5 Dec 2010

Infidelity in marriage is probably the most traumatic experience that can befall any spouse. The pain, anger, hurt, sadness and disappointment can be soul destroying. Amongst all this anguish, what you are also left with is the problem of how to deal with your cheating spouse.

There are those who would advocate an immediate end to the marriage. If this is the case, then there is no more to be said and you would just follow the advice of the lawyers and courts as you try to unravel the joint financial and property aspects of the relationship and, if applicable, sort out the custody of children. However, many people do not want to take this almost irrevocable stand, wishing instead to try and rebuild and salvage their marriage.

Similarly, others will advocate that the partner who has been cheated on should look to have an affair or one-night stand, just to get their own back. In my opinion, this is not good advice. First, it brings you down to the level of the original cheating partner, making one also disloyal and uncommitted. Secondly, it will make the relationship worse and create more heartache. Furthermore, if you have been really in love and committed to your cheating partner, could you morally justify such an act? Finally, the message that this gives is that being unfaithful is not a problem for you, so why should your cheating partner feel guilty?

Assuming that the betrayed spouse has not sought an immediate divorce or are intent upon ”getting their own back,” how else would you deal with a cheating wife or husband? Perhaps the most obvious first action is the need to talk. If the person who has been unfaithful does not know that you are aware of his or her infidelity, find a quiet place and time to tell them that you know. Difficult as it may be to stop yourself from revealing the secret in public as a means of letting out your anger and pain, it will not help the situation, especially if you still want to repair the damage. If you feel the need to share your feelings with someone other than your spouse, either accept the help of a counsellor or speak to a friend who you can absolutely trust to keep your confidence.

During these conversations, you have every right to make your cheating spouse understand how hurt, angry and disappointed you are. But you also need to find out exactly what his or her position is. An explanation needs to be forthcoming as to why the affair happened. But do not allow them to try and pass the blame to you. Additionally, ask whether he or she has ended the affair or are going to. If the latter, then you need a commitment that it will end from the moment you are talking to them. Furthermore, it is necessary to get an honest and open decision from the cheating spouse regarding whether, if you permit, they want to continue with the marriage and try to rebuild the love and trust that have been destroyed.

If there is a desire from the cheating spouse to rebuild the marriage, you have to set down guidelines and conditions that you want him or her to agree to before you agree that the marriage can continue. There should be no ambiguity in your terms and the cheating partner must be left in no doubt that should any of these conditions be breached, there will not be a second chance. Also, be clear about the fact that you will be checking to ensure that he or she is keeping their promise and this will continue until the trust has been restored.

Finally, if he or she has accepted your terms and you have agreed that you want them to remain in your life and the marriage, forgive them. The marriage will not work without your forgiveness and, if this is not possible, then perhaps separation is the best solution. It is also important, once everything has been settled, not to go telling everyone about your partner‘s infidelity. Not only could such action seriously, and potentially fatally, damage you relationship, it may also impair other external relationships with friends and relations.

The choice of how to cope with a cheating spouse is individualistic, but for those who wish to continue the relationship, the above comments may help to form steps that take you in the right direction.


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