Is your spouse cheating? Have you just found out that your spouse is having an affair or has previously engaged in infidelity? Have you discovered signs that your spouse may be having an affair? If so, your world is in upheaval. How do you cope? How do you find your center? What should you do from here? Can you save your marriage? Do you want to save your marriage? What about your home? What about your family?
Infidelity. Adultery. Cheating. Unfaithful. Betrayal. Affair. Whatever term you use: it hurts. You are set in a tailspin to face a reality that changes your entire life while in the turmoil of many emotions: hurt, betrayal, anger, resentment, sadness, and shock.
Most ask themselves many questions, such as:
“What just happened?”
“Do I want to save this marriage?”
“Should I save this marriage?”
“What will happen to me? The kids? Our friends?”
“What just happened??!!??!”
“How could s/he?”
“Do I even know my spouse?”
The Beginning of a Difficult Journey
Discovering infidelity is a nightmare that begins the first moment you find out. There seems to be no way of stopping it, no matter how hard you try. The questions, the thoughts, the images, the past, the present, the future…..it all swirls in your head, with no rhyme or reason until it starts to resemble a Jackson Pollack painting. You may have never believed it could happen to you, but for now, it is your new reality. And like so many others before you, you are not sure what to do or where to start.
Let me start by saying, we are so very sorry you are here under these circumstances. It’s a difficult and terrible place to be. We know, because many, many Marriage Advocates members, including myself, have been there: suddenly struck by the turmoil of infidelity. I personally welcome you and am glad you are here. Whether your Discovery Day (D-Day) was yesterday, last week, last month, or even longer ago, you can start doing some things immediately to help you navigate through these next few days, weeks, and moments while you gather your bearings and decide how you want to proceed with your life.
A Life Preserver
The following is a virtual life preserver to hold you afloat, as you make your way through this turmoil.
Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Care
The discovery of an affair is often considered be one of the worst experiences of your life. You will likely experience, and/or be experiencing many physical ailments. Weight loss, sleeplessness, anxiety, panic attacks, depression and similar issues are not uncommon. I suggest you make an appointment with your Primary Care Physician immediately.
Getting a check up and talking with your doctor about what is happening in your life will be beneficial for you if/when new symptoms come along. It is not uncommon for Betrayed Spouses to need/request some anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication to help them through this time. This DOES NOT mean you are weak, insufficient, or incompetent as a person. You are normal human being going through an extremely stressful situation. It is imperative to take the time for self-care. If you have children, they need you to do this, so that they have one parent who is looking out for their best interests.
As part of the self care and medical check up, have yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases. It is a good bet, no matter what your straying spouse tells you, that they have had unprotected intercourse with you as well as the other person. Don’t risk your health.
Give Yourself the Gift of Processing
It is okay to slow down, take a breather if you will, and process the information about infidelity being handed to you from all around. This information comes from everywhere, including books you have read, websites you have visited (including this site), well-intentioned friends, or even strangers on the street. Take the time to ask questions, re-read the information, explore the different viewpoints and angles, and soak in all you learn. Many programs exist out there that can help you from a personal standpoint, as well as a marital one. Your goal is to learn as much as you can and to come up with your own plan of attack on the affair and how to survive it.
Give Yourself the Gift of Knowledge
“Knowledge is Power”- Sir Francis Bacon.
There is a lot of truth to this statement. It is the key to where you take yourself from this moment forward. Take the time and opportunity to find out all you can about your marriage, the affair, your partner and yourself. Research and learn.
If you are a betrayed spouse who has only found fragments of an affair but nothing concrete yet, learn to snoop. Do not expect your wandering spouse to tell you anything and if they do, take it with a grain of salt. There is a great chance that your wandering spouse is not ready to give up the affair partner and his/her main goal is to cover up, mislead you, and hide all important details about the infidelity and the affair partner. It will be your job to find out all that you can. You will need to snoop.
If you are caught, expect your wandering spouse to be angry. VERY ANGRY. Please note: this is a side-effect of their main goal, which is to keep the affair going, for as long as possible. He/she will accuse you of invading his/her privacy. Your response is, “No, I am finding facts on what is going on in our marriage.” Just remember, your marriage can survive their anger; it cannot survive ongoing infidelity.
Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Examination
You did not CAUSE the affair. Please note this. The decision and act of engaging in an affair is your affairing spouse’s complete responsibility.
You may have helped contribute to the demise of the marriage and need to take a deep, honest, introspective look at yourself. The changes you may need to make will ensure a better relationship when engaging in Recovery or another relationship down the road. During this process, please remember that nothing makes you responsible for your spouse’s decision to have an affair. He/she made that decision alone. He/she will likely accuse you of all sorts of transgressions, offenses, and misdeeds, rewrite marital history, and gaslight you in an attempt to cause you to accept responsibility and/or blame. This is an attempt to blame shift and misplace the guilt that rests on their shoulders.
Give Yourself the Gift of Gab
Now is the time to surround yourself with a strong network of family and friends who can help support you as you navigate through these rough times. You need sources of outlet, comfort, and care during this time. People you can talk to, who will go out with you to help ease your mind, people who will help with childcare. Talk to your clergyman, get an individual counselor (IC), or post a thread here. There are people in your life who love and care for you. You are not alone.