Cheating and infidelity in relationships are unpleasant subjects. Infidelity is terminal cancer to a relationship. What should you do if you find out that your spouse is cheating? What steps can you take to care for yourself? I’m using the ‘he’ gender distinction, but only for convenience. These rules apply to either gender or partner. I’m going to begin with the most pragmatic steps first.
Get tested for STDs and HIV: If your spouse has been cheating on you, with a straight or gay partner, even if he swears there was no sex, get tested. Better to be proactive than sorry. If your spouse has brought a stranger into your bed (metaphorically speaking) he has opened you up to a gamut of sexually-transmitted diseases. You will need to know what to do to stay safe and healthy or get healthy.
Do your emotional wellness homework: A cheating partner is a terrible blow to the ego. You will likely review all your past mistakes, looking for reasons why he cheated on you. Why it was your fault. How you brought it on yourself. Interestingly, partners rarely cheat on each other because the other party failed them. The most odious behavior in a relationship cannot prompt a person to cheat. Leave yes. Divorce yes. Not cheat. A person is either a cheater or he isn’t. Even if he blames you for his cheating, it’s his guilt and shame talking. You are human and make mistakes. The cheating partner lacks a depth of moral character and cheating is his coping skill.
Explore your relationship: Having said that, it is important to review objectively things you may have done to damage your partners self esteem. Did you shut him out? Did you frequently neglect your relationship? Did you do anything to make him believe that you were cheating? In order to decide what to do about the cheating, whether divorce is the option or if you want to attempt reconciliation, you will need to explore these issues. While you may not have caused him to cheat, you may have fostered the environment for him to do so. For the sake of your relationship, your family and future relationships, it’s important to address these issues if they exist.
Don’t engage ‘the other woman’: Your spouse cheated. Period. She didn’t ‘lure him away’. He’s not a child that can be tricked into something. He’s a big boy and he made his choice. Kick box your rage and feed her image through the shredder, but avoid contact or confrontation with her. It will end in disaster and quite possibly you in jail for harassment. But avoiding her works both ways. I’m familiar with a case of infidelity in which the ‘mistress’ approached the wife and demanded a ‘group reconciliation’. Uh-uh. No group hugs and ‘are we all happy now?’ If she gets ugly, don’t hesitate to order a police restraint. Deal with your partner only. If you are married and your spouse cheats, his ‘mistress’ should have no part of the reconciliation. It will be messy enough, without another person getting involved.
If you choose reconciliation, get a professional mediator or counselor. This is too big to attempt alone.
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