Coping with Infidelity: A Just Found Out Guide for Betrayed Spouses

Taking care of you

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.

Stunned Questions

Most ask themselves many questions, such as:

“How did this happen?”Man Holding Head on Steps

“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.

Discuss this article on our forum.

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15 Responses to Coping with Infidelity: A Just Found Out Guide for Betrayed Spouses

  1. oyinkan awo says:

    hi thanks for being available. I just discovered that my husband has been sleeping with several different partners right after I found out that I am with child. We have been married for five years. I feel so sad. The hurt is excruciating. though I’m willing to work on the marriage because he is willing to get help, its very difficult to be around him at the moment though I’ve shown him support but I’m wondering if I’m just being stupid by sticking around. Its so disappointing to discover that my marriage has been a lie.he said he is a sex addict .im in shock .its very hard for me because I don’t have much of a support system to reachout to as we are very far away from home.

    • Sera says:

      Hi there I was wondering if you managed to get through things?
      As I’m in that pain now after my partner slept with 15 escorts

  2. Joann says:

    I was on my eight month pregnancy when I confirmed the marital affair of my husband when he confessed to me about it, it is when the time that he is being forced by the woman to sustain her pregnancy as well. Yes the woman is on her fifth month pregnancy. I was just so right, I have been suspecting the infidelity since April 2013, i have seen signs and even confronted and discuss this with my husband, but just as you have mentioned he is just so angry and accusing him of snooping his private life.
    I feel devastated, it was so unfair while I was on my pregnancy he was also impregnating other woman. Though I have given my husband second chance to work on our marriage, but the damage has been done. It is really not easy to forget. And there was a time also that the woman texted me and told all their sexcapades, the pain was so excruciating as if I was stabbed to death. Until now I am still in pain. I am just hoping that can get through of this situation and bear more. Because if not I cannot hold on our marriage longer.

  3. Claudia says:

    I just found out my husband cheated 7 years ago,he told me, and he is very sorry, he wants to work on the marriage but how do you do it when trust has been broken? When everything you thought about Your partner got broken?

    • Claudia, I’m so sorry you find yourself in this painful position. If there can be any good news, it’s that your husband told you himself (albeit late) instead of your stumbling on such a devastating truth, and that he wants to recommit to you and your marriage. That bodes very well for your recovery, but it will take TIME.

      It sounds like he regrets what he did, but I hope he understands that rebuilding trust and a new, improved marriage is going to take a lot more than a confession and an “I’m sorry.” For example, he is going to have to be completely transparent–sharing his passwords to every possible way he could (and did!) hide what he does from you. He’ll need to learn how to set and keep strong boundaries around his interactions with the opposite sex, for as he’s discovered, it’s easy to find yourself on that slippery slope. You will also be transparent to him. It’s called “radical honesty,” a protection most couples never think to put into place, because nobody thinks they will cheat, or that their spouse will cheat.

      You’ll also need to have some in-depth talks about what each of you did (or failed to do) that made your marriage vulnerable to an affair in the first place. This all involves time and effort, and nothing can be swept under the rug. It isn’t easy, but if you’re both committed to building a new, better marriage, you can get there.

      I hope you will visit the website, Marriageadvocates.com. You’ll find a lot of people there who have survived what you and your husband are faced with, and they’re thriving today. They have recovered using different methods, but be assured it is important to have a specific PLAN for recovery, and there is much to learn from their experiences. They will walk the path with you, sharing what worked for them.

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing the pain and shock of learning of your husband’s infidelity, but know that you CAN put yourselves back together. Hope you’ll join us.

  4. I am going through the same thing & can totally relate to heartbroken’s resentment for the OW. Why do so many people think the OW is NOT at fault only the WH?
    2 weeks ago I asked my H of 10 years to move out after I lost all trust in him after discovering “innocent emails” to a work colleague 13 years our junior but twice my size & unattractive. When i was her age my H was proud to have me on his arm yet he has gone for someone totally unlike someone i would have expected of him. Initially he told me she was a lesbian after i said she looked like one (my fault for suggesting it). He jlooked me in the eye on many occassions & denied it, it appears to have turned physical from the moment he moved out & I suspect he may have moved in with her rather than his mother’s (inherited) place like he intended (phone records).
    Funny thing is it was only after I discovered the emails that he said that he wanted to leave me & had been thinking about it for some months!
    I go from guilt to crying over what we had & why i fell in love with him to resentment & questioning why I am crying for a person that no longer existed. The man I fell in love with who I knew loved me so much was gone & in its place an emotionless deceitful robot not capable of true feeling. And then the guilt comes back & I blame myself for the change in him. I am going in circles as I have so many unanswered questions which I know may never be answered. I have learnt a lot about myself in the last couple of days & wish I had done so when I first discovered these emails rather than tell him to move out & literally push him into her arms. But it was too hostile here for both of us & we needed time apart to think about things. But I don’t imagine he is doing much thinking about us if he is with her.
    I don’t know whether to hold out any hope since he has not moved all his stuff out (just clothes, no valuables) & his 2 pets are still here. Hope that he will wake up to himself & realise that he has a lot to lose & that their common interest in cars & bikes is not enough of a connection to base a solid relationship. Hope that he realises that the age gap is too great. But if it has turned physical I don’t think I could take him back due to the betrayal & lack of trust…….

    • I’m glad to see that you’ve registered at MarriageAdvocates.com. There are so many folks on our forums who’ve been in your shoes and are willing to help you through this awful time. You are not alone!

  5. SadWife says:

    Ive been married for almost two years. Im very young (20) and I am expecting my first child. My husband joined the military right out of high school and things were perfect, so i thought. After being stationed in Alaska, he was immediately deployed to Kuwait and thats when I learned of one of his many affairs. I prayed and prayed and we decided we were gonna work on our marriage. I moved to Alaska when he came back home from deployment. We lived there for 7 months because he got kicked out for bad behavior and I wanted to get back home to my mom. While in Alaska, he treated me so horribly that i was in a deep depression for a long time. We finally move back home where I find out Im pregnant and he admits to having. all these affairs. For a long time I wanted to abort my baby and divorce my husband but I just couldnt do it. Now we’re working on getting help and possibly fixing our marriage. Im so hurt by it all and I really want to move on. I just dont have the strength to do so.

    • Oh, sweetie, i’m so sorry for what you’re going through. You should be happily anticipating the birth of your first baby. Military life can be very, very hard on marriages. Too many opportunities to forget your promises…

      There ARE things you can do to better the odds of recovering your marriage, but without a plan, it’s nearly impossible. I do hope you will join our discussion group to learn how others have coped with this nightmare. Marriageadvocates.com is a non-profit, safe place to get help.

      Regardless of where you go for help, please GET help. let your doctor know what is going on, and do your best to eat nourishing food during this trying time, for your sake and the sake of your baby.

  6. MJ says:

    My bf of 8 years brokeup with me when I wanted to confront him about a girl (S) he had started showing interest in lately (they had exchanged about 200+ emails in 10 days). We havnt spoken to each other for 2 months since that day, although he occasionally emails me, to which I do not reply.

    Flash back
    In 2009, we had a brief breakup of four months when he was caught spending excessive amount of time chatting with a girl (M) on the net. He denied having sex with her and begged me to come back and even followed me to another country where I had gone holidaying. That time I asked him to cut any and all contact with M, to which he agreed and promised.

    Now
    Just a couple of weeks back I found out that he actually did not break any contact with this girl (M) and they have been calling, chatting, texting and meeting. I blindly trusted him for all these years and now I am very hurt and angry. I feel deceived and betrayed.
    I want to know if I should confront him on my latest discovery (about M and his secret meetings and chats) or let time take its own course. I want to heal and move on. I have been writing and keeping a diary about my feelings, but it has not been very helpful. I sit and talk to myself, assuming he is in front of me and vent my anger and cry. Still to no avail.
    I feel I should sort this issue with him one-to-one and ask him WHY?? On the other hand I am not sure if this is the right approach. Please, I need guidance.

    PS: We were planning to get married this summer.

  7. not2fun says:

    One last thing. If you do decide to join, look for me. My member name is the same. I’m here to help, even if its only to hold your hand. Take care……

  8. not2fun says:

    Dear Heartbroken,

    Thank you for responding. I am so sincerely sorry you are dealing with this. I know just how hard it is as I have been there before. Quite honestly, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. This is not a situation that one should carry on their own. I wrote this (which, writing is NOT my forte, by the way!!!!) because of what I had done or learned when I too, experienced my husband cheating on me. I urge you to see your doctor right away. Out of all the things I had done, this is what I am most proud of. Taking care of myself. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to to take care of my children, do my job, or deal with any of the mundane things one must do on a day-to-day basis. However, you have made a crucial step in helping yourself….you posted this message!!! That takes courage, even if it doesn’t seem so.

    My other suggestion is to come onto the “Marriage Advocate” boards. Create a member profile and join us. Sometimes, just being in the company of others who have been through this or are currently going through it, is a comfort. Support, even on-line support, is one of the greatest gifts you can receive……

    • MJ says:

      Heartbroken, I completely relate to you. My bf was also younger than me, i tend to attract young guys coz of looks and my bf blamed me whenever I wanted to confront him. I loved him a lot and now I am coping up with hurt and betrayal and loneliness. My heart goes out to you.
      God bless!!!

  9. heartbroken says:

    My husband left me and I suspected that there was someone else but I didn’t know for sure. He blamed his leaving on my behavior and that he was just done with me. I felt so guilty and hurt for months and than one day I was able to find out everything including emails and text messages that proved he had been cheating for months before he left with a woman that he worked with years ago and that now was back in the picture. i was so shocked and heart broken. I couldn’t believe that my husband was even capable of betraying me like he did. I feel he ruined my life. I left everyone and everything to follow him to another state and i trusted him so much, I never even suspected. I feel disrespected rejected and unloved. Tossed aside for a woman that is not even worth considering. She has been married twice at the age of 30 and knew full well that my husband was married for 12 years and together with me for 16. I have never felt such pain and I’m scared at how I can go on. He was my everything. We use to spent so much time together but he was only putting up a facade with me for so long. I wish I could have a lobotomy sometimes so I wouldn’t have to think about him with someone else anymore and i wouldn’t have to remember all the times together, the travels, the closeness, the trust love and words and his betrayal. He seems to be ok with it all and doesn’t miss me a bit while I miss him like I would miss air…Sometimes I feel that I’m just going to stop breathing when I think I’ll never be with him, touch him look into his eyes or kiss his lips again and other times I just wish he would suffer as much as I do and feel hate and contempt for how he treated me. I loved him so much. Even the memories I’ve shared with him, now seem shattered. I part of me died. What to do? How do I get over this betrayal and the loss? I’m older than he is and I also feel humiliated and shamed. I’m a beautiful woman and very young looking. I normally attract younger men but I’m now afraid to engage with any male. I suddenly feel so old and rejected and like I have not worth. My self esteem has really suffered as a result of this betrayal. He still denies it. I wrote him a letter to let him know that I know because I’m tired of staying silent. I guess part of me is ok with them hiding and if he knows that I know they will come out in the open. We’re going through a divorce. i know my husband didn’t intent to leave me and he wouldn’t have if not for this woman. I wish she would be struck by lightning. Thanks for letting me vent. I appreciate any advice or support.

  10. Pingback: A Betrayed Spouse's Guide to Responding to Marital Infidelity - Part I - Marriage AdvocatesMarriage Advocates

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