Are you a victim of adultery? If so, I know this has been a devastating blow! When you are in a committed relationship, you naturally expect sexual and emotional exclusivity. When these expectations are violated, your life is shattered in every possible way!
The pain of being cheated on feels like being given a medical diagnosis of cancer. However, there is a big difference between being cheated on and getting cancer. As a victim of adultery, it is possible that you can fully recover, but with cancer it can go either way.
If an 'outside relationship' was conducted in secrecy and covered over with lies, this is one of the biggest proofs it was infidelity.
Secrecy and lying occur because the cheating partner knows that what he or she is doing is wrong. The cheating wife, cheating husband or cheating partner takes decisive action to conceal what they are doing — they don't want to 'get caught.'
When there is lying about a relationship with another person, there can be no denial of infidelity! Honesty or lying about a relationship is the litmus test that determines what kind of relationship it is— an acceptable relationship or a cheating relationship.
Recovery from infidelity is possible. However, the process of recovery is long, difficult, and requires a very sophisticated type of intervention. Not every mental health professional has the knowledge and skills to lead a couple on their infidelity recovery journey.
One prominent researcher asserts that there’s a 20% likelihood that one of the two partners in a marriage is having sex with someone outside of the marriage. For unmarried couples, the rate is much higher. Nevertheless, both groups expect faithfulness.
Other researchers report that 22.7% of married men and 11.6% of married women have had extramarital sex.
Infidelity has different meanings to different people. The length of the infidelity can influence these meanings. For example, a one-night stand in a twenty-five-year marriage will have a significantly different meaning when compared with a twenty-year affair in the context of a twenty-five-year marriage.
There are situations in which cheating individuals have children with their outside partner. Some individuals quickly abandon the affair and move on whereas others help raise the children they have fathered and now have two families. Sometimes the second family is known to the first and primary family, and sometimes it is not.
Researchers have identified three common types of affairs: sexual, emotional, and online.
Sexual infidelity can vary from kissing to sexual intercourse and everything in between.
Emotional infidelity is the sharing of intimate details about each other's lives and expressions of affection.
One researcher found that the subjects in her study rated the betrayal of online cybersex as a real form of infidelity and that they consider it as being almost as severe as the betrayal of sexual intercourse.
Researchers have observed that when it comes to infidelity, both men and women experience jealousy. However, it was found that men are more upset by 'sexual infidelity,' whereas women tend to be more upset by 'emotional infidelity.'
Researchers describe the fallout of infidelity as, “a traumatic relationship event that alters how couples process information about each other and established behavioral patterns.” This means that relationships change significantly after the cheating becomes known to the betrayed partner and the infidelity upheaval begins.
After infidelity is discovered, everything about the relationship changes.The traumatized couple enters into a dimension that is unknown, painful, and confusing. Even the 'old,' now seems different and unknown. Often the betrayed partner in reference to the partner who cheated says, "I thought I knew him/her, but now I see I did not. I don't know who this person is that I am married to."
When infidelity occurs, someone violates many relationship assumptions. For example, when partners commit to each other, they feel that they can now trust that the relationship is emotionally and sexually safe. When infidelity violates these assumptions, individuals lose predictability for the future and experience a loss of control, which quickly leads to anxiety, fear, and often depression.
Researchers have observed couples afflicted by infidelity and noticed that there are intense emotions that often vacillate between rage, shame, depression, powerlessness, victimization, and abandonment.
Cognitive discord and upheaval fuel volatile emotions.
For the injured partner, thoughts are intrusive; there are persistent ruminations about the event, which may become overwhelming and uncontrollable, interfering with concentration and daily functioning.
The betrayed partner questions their cheating partner wanting to know 'why' the affair occurred in an effort to reestablish some control over their feelings. The betrayed partner's thinking is that if he or she understands why the affair occurred, he or she can at least attempt to modify the causes and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.
A flood of persistent questions typifies a couple dealing with infidelity. Often the same questions are repeatedly asked because of their significance to the betrayed partner, and because of the lack of credibility of the cheating partner. Sometimes the same questions are repeated, to see if he or she gets the same answer because he or she may not trust their partner.
When the partners eventually develop a shared view of why the affair occurred, they now have the opportunity to seek ways to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Various factors have been identified that contribute to infidelity. Note that none of these factors justify infidelity. Rather, they are the reasons why a person may be more inclined to cheat on his or her partner. Common reasons include:
These research-based findings are primarily based on individuals within a marriage. Some of the findings are from individuals in a committed relationship, but they are unmarried couples.
Learning that your partner has been cheating on you will be one of the most difficult moments in your life.
The days afterward are going to be extremely difficult and draining; you will be on an emotional rollercoaster. Many conflicting and confusing feelings will come to you such as hating your partner, blaming yourself, wanting to beg for love, or wanting to tell the world what your cheating husband, cheating wife, or cheating partner has done.
I caution you before you do anything extreme that you may regret, wait a few days until your strong and chaotic emotions settle down and you can more carefully plan your next moves.
It is essential that you take care of your health during this time, make sure you eat, sleep, and attend to your essential responsibilities such as childcare and work. You will need your strength in the coming days, and you do not want to make yourself sick by ignoring your basic needs.
What the injured party needs the most when infidelity is discovered, is the whole story of the affair.
This may not, however, be forthcoming since the guilty party is probably scared about the injured party’s reaction to knowing more about what has happened.
You are entitled to know the truth; to have your questions answered. However, it may not be possible at this point, and it is important that you have realistic expectations, so you are not unnecessarily hurt again by your partner who has cheated.
Knowing the details of what actually occurred may take time before this part of the healing process can begin. Often a formal reconciliation process needs to begin before the guilty partner can start opening up regarding many of the details about the affair.
A 'formal' reconciliation process creates safety for both of you. Some couples can stay in-control of their emotions and use a self-help guide to lead them in a program of relationship recovery. But most couples will require the help of a trained and caring relationship specialist who understands how to work with couples seeking infidelity treatment.
After you get through the initial infidelity shock, it is essential that you and your partner organize specific times throughout the day or specific days to talk about the affair — your feelings, details about what happened, and what the options are for the future.
Even though infidelity is a major crisis, you cannot work on it all the time. You need to have other times during the day and night where you can try (to the best of your ability) to normalize your life and take care of your needs and the needs of other family members.
Once the affair has been discovered, it is important is to decide together with your partner who you will disclose the affair to and who you cannot tell. If you tell the 'wrong people,' the partner who cheated may never be forgiven by them, which can cause major problems in the future.
If you and your partner are having a difficult time after the affair is discovered and you can't speak about the affair, then it is a good time to seek help from therapist trained to work with couples.
Infidelity is a self-inflicted wound that often devastates the two partners, their children, and even extended family and friends.
When your partner enters into a romantic relationship with another person, the emotional repercussions are harsh and often destroy all that once was and might have been. Many relationships don’t survive, leaving one or both partners alone and with deep emotional wounds.
On the other hand, many couples choose to reconcile, and when done correctly, most succeed. The success in overcoming infidelity will depend on focus, determination, and consistent effort over an extended period of time. Most often the help of a therapist trained to work with couples is required.
When researchers asked couples therapists about treating infidelity, they report that infidelity is one of the most difficult relationship issues to treat.
Because of the difficulties in treating couples afflicted with infidelity, only therapists highly skilled in dealing with relationships and who have additional experience on how to deal with infidelity should be used. As well, your therapist should believe in the value of marriage and committed relationships and be opposed to adultery in committed relationships.
Right now, it may be hard to believe that infidelity need not lead to the end of your committed relationship, or that your relationship can continue forward regaining the innocence, love, and trust that existed prior to the betrayal.
The good news is that the trust, dreams of a good future, and security that was destroyed by infidelity, can be rebuilt and reestablished. Undoubtedly it will be hard, but it is not impossible.
You can survive infidelity and rebuild your relationship. It may even be possible to build more love and connectedness than you had in the past prior to the betrayal into your relationship.
Surviving infidelity requires a carefully controlled and focused effort over an extended period of time to heal and fix what was broken. Many couples require the help of a caring and qualified relationship specialist to intervene, in addition to the reading of self-help books.
Surviving infidelity is a choice; once you choose the path of reconciliation, you need the right tools to successfully carry out your mission.
Learning about your partner's betrayal has caused deep emotional wounds.
Everything you believed to be real in your life has suddenly blown-up and shattered.
You wonder what will happen to you, what will become of your children?
You wonder if you will be blamed by others for everything that has happened and you wonder if you should love or hate your partner.
You don't know how to approach your cheating husband, cheating wife, or partner. You don't want to make things worse by doing or saying the wrong thing!
After a few hours of shock, you feel emotional paralysis setting-in. Caring for your children is overwhelmingly difficult. You can't seem to concentrate on anything. Work... impossible!
You are confused. Should you cry or take revenge?
Dark feelings overwhelm you. They are so out of character... you don't recognize yourself.
During such moments, cut yourself some slack and try not to be self-critical. Know that all this 'emotional craziness' isn’t your fault. Know the way you feel is normal and natural. Try to be like a surfer riding the waves.Go with the flow! Observe your emotions... don't fight them. Eventually, you will heal and recover.
You acknowledge that you have not been the 'perfect partner,' which might bring you to believe it has contributed to your partner's straying. Although there may be some truth to this, it was your partner’s choice to deal with problems in your relationship by cheating and destroying the relationship. Your partner had many other options available, and it was he or she who decided to cheat. Don't blame yourself.
As the weeks and months pass, the 'crazy emotions' caused by the affair may not pass. This phenomena of emotional pain and confusion that almost all victims of infidelity experience is proof of the destructive nature of infidelity.
In fact, in many situations, had the partner who strayed known how the affair would impact on his or her partner, he or she would never have engaged in cheating.
Upon the discovery of your philandering, your partner's reaction to your cheating is likely to be overwhelming, making this day one of the most difficult in your life.
If you are the guilty party, you are probably thinking, "How can I piece my relationship back together and make up for the hurt I’ve caused?"
On the other hand, you may be thinking that what you did is okay — that there is nothing to fix! You justify what you have done and you are callus to the pain you have caused your husband, wife, or partner who trusted you! As well, you delude yourself thinking this is between you and your partner, the kids will be fine — this is a self-serving lie you tell yourself and others. If this is how you think, it is questionable if continuing to read this article will be of use.
However, if you know that what you did is wrong and you feel shame, remorse, guilt — and you want to know what you can do to fix the damage you have caused, the answer is that your first task is to be calm, patient, and show compassion for your injured partner.
Your betrayed partner will express rapidly changing, contradictory, and extreme emotions to you. To the best of your ability do not react in a hostile or rejecting way. Remember, it is your betrayal that caused your partner’s pain and created the current problems. Be calm, reassuring, and be honest.
Reality check: There is no hope for your marriage or the healthy functioning of your family if you do not completely end your relationship with the outside person. It makes no difference how attached you may or may not be to him or her. If you want a healthy and functioning family, your loyalty must be with your legitimate partner — no one else.
You may have a strong attachment to your outside lover. We are all capable of loving more than one person— just like we can easily love more than one child, so too, we can love more than one adult. The problem with infidelity is getting into a situation where it is possible to illegitimately fall in love with someone and thus you betray the trust of your legitimate partner. You should never have gotten involved with the outside person in the first place... and had you been careful about this, you would not have fallen in love!
[Note to the partner who was betrayed: The fact that your partner who strayed is trying to figure out how to deal with his or her feelings regarding the outside person is not to his or her discredit. You will 'hate' the outside person, but your partner won't. Don't expect your partner to feel like you. Expect your partner to end the relationship and sever all ties to the illegitimate person, but realize that your cheating partner is feeling confusion and grieving over the loss of an important person in his or her life. This is another one of the destructive sides of infidelity. Infidelity hurts everyone exposed to it.]
If you try to juggle both relationships — your legitimate one and your illegitimate one — you will fail miserably at both. This is true, not because I am saying so, or because it is a moral failing or anything like that. Rather, your family will fail because of how human nature demands relationship exclusivity. Your relationship with your spouse and children is doomed to fail if you don't accept and act on this universal and obvious fact of life.
Because the person who strayed is trying to comfort his or her spouse or partner while feeling a loss for the relationship with the outside person at the same time, dealing with the aftermath of infidelity is complicated.
As the partner who cheated, after the work on recovering and rebuilding your relationship has been achieved, only then can you ask for forgiveness. It may or may not be granted, and you have no right to judge your partner regardless of what his or her responses are to your request for forgiveness. You can always ask again at a later time.
Part of forgiveness is a feeling of the heart, and we only have limited control regarding how we feel. Even so, there are things you can do to increase the likelihood and opportunities for forgiveness. Namely, taking a proactive and systematic approach to recovering from infidelity.
If you intend to make things right with your legitimate partner, the first thing you need to do is take responsibility for what you have done. You have to acknowledge that the affair was YOUR fault. You have to believe this in your heart, and you have to communicate this to your partner.
This may be hard to do, as your cheating was probably justified in your mind by focusing on the inadequacies of your legitimate partner. There may or may not be truth to this! However, if you are to survive infidelity, it is essential that you take responsibility for what you did. Otherwise, your partner will never truly believe you when you tell him or her that you will never do this again.
Think about it, if you blame your partner, or anyone else, or any circumstance for your philandering, how can you promise your partner it will never happen again? If you assert that what happened is beyond your control, then your partner will forever feel insecure, because what you are saying, in essence, is that you cannot control whether you cheat or not — meaning you may do it again in the future. This thought will devastate your partner and make recovery impossible.
It is true that your relationship may have been far from perfect, but this is not the time to focus on those problems, and they cannot be legitimately used to justify your harmful behavior. It was your choice, and no one else's, to respond to the relationship problems by getting involved with a person outside of your marriage or committed relationship.
You and your partner can discuss and fix other problems in your relationship after you are well on the road to relationship recovery.
Once the initial infidelity discovery devastation has died down, you can try to offer explanations to your partner regarding how you came to cheat, but don't give excuses for your affair.
Since part of committing infidelity was the need to lie to conceal what you were doing, do not be surprised if your partner does not believe you when you try to discuss details regarding what happened, or profess your guilt, or express remorse, or offer assurance that it will never happen again.
Think of 'not being believed' as part of the damage you have created, that your partner can no longer trust nor believe you. It will take a long time and much hard relationship work before your partner will be able to believe and trust you once again.
As the one who cheated, your primary task is to restore trust with your betrayed partner. This is not an overnight process, but if you do the right things consistently over an extended period of time, eventually trust and love will be restored.
If you are a family member or close friend of the couple, you may be wondering, "Is there anything I can do to help them through this difficult period?"
The answer is that you need to let the couple who is struggling to survive infidelity lead the way. If you really want to help, ask the injured couple what you can do, and do it.
Even though you may feel upset by what has occurred, stay respectful and calm. Don't bombard the injured couple with opinions, demands, or judgments.
Remember, if the injured parties reconcile, you will want to have a good relationship with both of them. Don't destroy your relationship with injured couple — because you may not be able to fix it, and this can cause an 'everlasting problem' if they are family members.
Fixing your damaged relationship can be an arduous task that requires patience and strict adherence to proven guidelines that are sometimes difficult to follow.
Even if it is difficult to overcome the injuries caused by infidelity, you should do the work necessary to repair and preserve your most valued investment — your marriage or committed relationship.
Think of it this way; you wouldn't cut off a broken leg to avoid appointments with an orthopedic surgeon, a cast, crutches, or physical therapy sessions. In the same way, don't throw away your family because of infidelity. Rather, do the work necessary to fix it the relationship.
Whether you are the offending or injured party, you need to take an active role to fix the damage infidelity has caused to get a successful recovery.
Throwing away your relationship if it can be fixed, isn’t the sensible thing to do.
A divorce, in and of itself, is a tragedy where typically everybody is hurt, and the solutions hoped for when divorcing are for most couples not actualized.
If you are like most individuals in a committed relationship, you have invested time, effort, and the best of your life in your family. If there is any way possible to reconcile, it should be carefully considered and when reasonable, acted on.
Try to stay together. Eventually the 'infidelity craziness' will pass. Staying together as a family is especially important if you have dependent children.
Children are typically hurt by divorce. Losing the daily love and care from one parent is a great loss that cannot be replaced even by the introduction of a 'new' person into their lives. If you do remarry, blended families are notoriously complex and it is often difficult for children to adjust to the new dynamics in their life.
Protecting your children, even under the dark cloud of infidelity, is a noble parenting act.
Of course, this does not mean sweeping the infidelity or past problems in the relationship under the rug. Rather, in a proper way, all of this needs to be addressed and resolved.
You cannot just stay together for the sake of the children when emotional blood is hemorrhaging. In such situations, even your children will suffer!
However, in most situations you can fix the problems and preserve your family. This would be the best solution for eneryone and should be your first choice.
If you are the partner who has been betrayed, you will be asking at some point, "How can I ever forgive my cheating partner?”
Forgiveness is defined as a release of justified anger. When the injured person forgives, his or her hostility toward the offender ceases and is replaced with a desire to solve the relationship problems.
The first move toward forgiveness must be taken by the offender who betrayed his partner. The offender must prove his or her remorse and take the positive actions necessary to help
The injured partner must feel that the perpetrator feels genuine remorse and has no intention of offending again. Then, and only then, is it possible to start thinking about
Forgiveness can take time, and the offending partner needs to be patient and humble, focusing primarily on his or her behavior as a means of contributing to the healing of the injured partner.
At some point in the infidelity recovery process, when the partner who cheated senses it is the right time, he or she can request forgiveness. It may or may not be granted. If forgiveness is granted, all is good. If forgiveness is not granted, at a later time after more progress has been made, forgiveness can be requested again.
Should genuine forgiveness be granted, this does not me the efforts to recover are over. Being forgiven means the recovery journey enters a new phase, a period where progress is enhanced because anger has been replaced with goodwill and care.
The good news is that it is possible to forgive a partner who strayed. Relationship researchers suggest that empathy, humility, commitment, understanding, healthy communication, and hope may help create a relationship environment in which genuine forgiveness is willingly granted.
Researchers point out that 'forgiveness' is not the same as 'reconciliation.'
Reconciliation implies the issues that disrupted the relationship have been mended and civility has been reestablished.
Reconciliation is not always possible or desirable. When a person's wellbeing is at risk, reconciliation should not be considered as a legitimate option.
For example, if your partner who is cheating refuses to end his or her relationship with the outside lover, ignoring this fact and continuing with the family 'as is,' which includes an ongoing affair, should not be considered as a reasonable option. Doing so would put everyone in the family at risk for further victimization and injury! 'Business as usual,' should not be an acceptable option. Rather, separation and other options should be on the list of things to consider.
Reconciliation requires specific tools and strategies to repair the damaged relationship. It is hard work and takes time, with no guarantee of success. Infidelity is risky, and a potential cheater needs to understand that the results of his or her behavior are unpredictable.
Researchers point out that reconciliation is more than simply getting past a bad period in the relationship. They explain that having the desire to reconcile is a virtue that should be cultivated. Having a 'reconciling character' is for many individuals a transformative experience, making them a better person.
Many relationship researchers emphasize the need for couples who are experiencing the aftermath of infidelity to have a map to guide them through the treatment process.
If you are the person who broke your commitment to be faithful, you are probably wondering how you can piece your relationship back together. If you are the betrayed partner, you may be feeling that surviving infidelity is a burden too heavy to carry; dealing with infidelity is extremely confusing, painful, and overwhelming.
For each person caught up in surviving infidelity, receiving guidance from trained relationship specialists can lighten your load, clarify how to survive infidelity, and provide the necessary tools and steps needed to fully recover.
Even if you seek the help of a trained relationship specialist to guide you on your recovery journey — and it is advisable that you find someone — self-help books available on surviving infidelity can help to keep you afloat when confronted with the natural emotional turbulence which will be present in the weeks and months ahead.
In my many years of working with couples seeking to survive infidelity, I have developed a 7-Step Recovery Map that offers both partners an excellent chance at recovering from infidelity, fortifying their relationship, and going on to live a happy life together.
My book, Surviving Infidelity: Making Amends, Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Together Happily for the Rest of Your Lives, A Couple's Journey using the 7-Step Recovery Map is based on ground-breaking discoveries on how to heal from relationship betrayal.
The seven steps necessary to recover from infidelity are:
The path from 'discovery to recovery' has no shortcuts. My recommended seven steps must be followed in sequence, each one fully completed before advancing to the next step.
When you complete all seven steps, you will be rewarded with a strong loving relationship.
When the 'magic' in my book, Surviving Infidelity: Making Amends, Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Together Happily for the Rest of Your Lives, A Couple's Journey using the 7-Step Recovery Map is realized, the partner who strayed will have made amends for his or her mistakes, and the partner who was betrayed will find it in his or her heart to extend genuine forgiveness.
Abrahms Spring. (2017) After the Affair — Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis. Harper Collins, NY.
Adrian J. Blow, Kelly Hartnett. (2005), Infidelity In Committed Relationships: A Methodological Review, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Volume 31, Number 2, 183 – 216.
Christina Coop Gordon, Donald H. Baucom, Douglas K. Snyder. (2005), Treating Couples Recovering from Infidelity: An Integrative Approach, JCLP/In Session. Vol. 61 (11), 1393-1405, published online in Wiley Interscience.
Emily M. Brown. Affairs, A Guide to Working Through the Repercussionsof Infidelity. (1999) Jossey-Bass Inc Publishers, San Fransisco.
Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Dwitt T. Drinkard. (2000), Promoting Reconciliation Through Educational and Therapeutic Interventions, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Volume 26, Number 1, 93 101.
Frank Pittman. (1989), Private Lies, Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy. W. W Norton Company, NY, London.
Janis A. Spring. How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To. (2004), Harper Collins Publishers, NY.
Michael M. Olsen, Candyce S. Russell, Mindy Higgins–Kessler, Richard B. Miller. (2002), Emotional Processes Following Disclosure of an Extramarital Affair, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, October 2002, Volume 28, Number 4, 423 434.
Monica T. Witty, Laura–Lee Quigley. (2008), Emotional and Sexual Infidelity Offline and in Cyberspace, Marital and Family
Scott Stanley. (2017), Sliding VS Deciding, the Institute for Family Studies. http://slidingvsdeciding.blogspot.ca/2013/09/new-institute-for-family-studies.html
Shirley P. Glass. (2003),Not "Just Friends" — Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity. The Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, New York, NY.
W. Jared Dupree, Mark B. White, Charlotte Shoup Olsen & Camille T. Lafleur. (2007), Infidelity Treatment Patterns: A Practice-based Evidence Approach, The American Journal of Family Therapy, 35:4, 327-341. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926180600969900
If you are one of the couples who want to recover from infidelity, not all do, then you require professional guidance on how to navigate the many pitfalls you will encounter on your journey to recovering and rebuilding your marriage or committed relationship. My name is Abe Kass, I am the author of this site and a relationship expert and I can help you.
As in the recovery from any serious medical ailment, recovery from infidelity requires precise and decisive steps. Get the 7-Step Recovery map that will illuminate your way out of the darkness of betrayal.
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You can harness the power of 'your mind' to reduce the anxiety, anger and panic that is typically experienced by a person who is the victim of infidelity. This is understandable because of the many questions and uncertainties you are facing. Still, you can and should, to the best of your ability, try to reduce your anxiety and worry. The Peace of Mind Audiobook can teach you how to harness the power of 'your mind' and reduce your level of stress.
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Many people think that lying is a reasonable part of communicating. Lying may be common, but it is not 'reasonable,' since it leads to relationship breakdown and other tragedies.
Many families have been ripped apart because of the lies. Don't let this happen to you and your family!
In spite of what I have just said, there are two exceptions when a person should lie.
Watch this video and learn more.
Surviving infidelity? Are you the victim? Do you have many questions and want to know how to get over an affair? Watch this video and get answers.
Learn the 11 common reasons individuals cheat on their partners. These reasons offer an explanation, not a justification. Infidelity is ALWAYS wrong!