After the explosive initial shock of infidelity, when emotions are less volatile, some couples will try to make things right.
In a marriage or committed relationship, the partner who strayed will sometimes awaken to the many harsh, unanticipated consequences that his or her misbehavior brings. Knowing how to deal with infidelity demands an awareness of the enormous pain infidelity creates for the partner who is betrayed.
For the sake of illustration, in this
After the affair is over
Sue and John need guidance.
John may very well beg Sue for forgiveness, pledging to end the affair and never again stray. That is a good start to the ordeal of surviving infidelity. But John has to understand that saying “I’m sorry” is not enough. He has to take a proactive role in trying to repair the damage he caused and this is an integral part of getting over an affair.
Sue is heartbroken. She probably wants to find a way to stay together with John, but how can she ever trust him again, or forgive him?
Although infidelity shatters a relationship, it needn’t be its death. Knowing how to deal with infidelity is the best place to start.
I have identified 7 Survival Steps that couples must follow if they are to recover from the massive damage caused by infidelity. The first step is to cease all contact with the outside person, the paramour.
Since in this illustration it is John who strayed, it is John who must cease all contact with his paramour, Violet.
John faces a clear choice: either break all contact with Violet or end his relationship with Sue. There can be no middle ground. Only after the affair is completely over can healing begin.
For John to accomplish a complete break from Violet, he may be required to make fundamental changes in his life and routine.
Infidelity can take root at work, in the immediate neighborhood, community, or even among extended family members. If John’s affair was with a work colleague, he might need to find a new job. If Violet is someone who John knows from the community, John and Susan may need to relocate to a new neighborhood. If Violet is a member of John or Sue’s extended family, then John will have to do everything possible to keep his distance from Violet at family events — and perhaps skip them altogether.
It is John’s responsibility now is to demonstrate to Sue, beyond a doubt, that he is doing everything possible to put a distance between himself and Violet. Doing so is an essential step in getting over an affair.
In fact, in Sue’s presence and with her input, John needs to write a script that makes it abundantly clear to Violet that their affair and friendship are terminated. With Sue as a witness, John must then either relay that message to Violet by phone (not in person) or by email.
It is important for Sue to see with her own eyes that John is burning all of his bridges with Violet. It is one way that John can prove to Sue that he is absolutely committed to reconciling.
Must John really go to extremes, such as changing jobs or moving to a new neighborhood, just to avoid Violet? Even though it may be hard, expensive, and inconvenient to make a complete break from Violet, the answer is “yes.”
The principle of ceasing all contact is necessary. That said, major life changes — such as finding a new job or moving to a new home — are not always possible. Even when they are doable, the transition to a 'new life' may take time and may require John to cross paths with Violet on the job or in the neighborhood in the interim. These are just the hard and unpleasant realities of dealing with infidelity.
In such circumstances, it is essential that John
As Step One of the 7 Survival Steps makes abundantly clear, the unanticipated consequences that infidelity brings are severe. It often make surviving infidelity after the affair is over difficult.
No one ever promised surviving infidelity would be easy.
However, the steps are necessary and the burden is squarely on John to prove to Sue (and to himself) that he is worthy of a second chance. After John completes all seven steps, he will restore Sue’s trust in him, allowing her to genuinely forgive him, and giving the two of them an excellent chance of moving forward together as a caring, dedicated, and respectful couple.
If more men and women understood the tremendous aftershocks that follow in the wake of infidelity, no doubt many of those who stray would think twice before ever beginning an illicit affair.
For Professional Advice on 'How to Forgive a Cheating Partner', watch this video.
Learn how to rebuild your relationship after an affair, purchase my book, Surviving Infidelity: A Couple's Journey using the 7-Step Recovery Map.
Most often the assistance of a relationship professional who specializes in infidelity is required to help you survive infidelity. Below are sources where you can find qualified therapists.