How to live after cheating?

How to behave after adultery: 3 ways for those who saved the family

The decision to save the marriage after adultery spouses do not so rarely, but the relationship after adultery will never be the same again. A husband and wife can wallow in resentment and quarrels and punish each other with a lack of sex, or they can rekindle a new passion.

While a number of couples who come to me eventually decide to break up, there are many more who start therapy to stay together. Working with them, I’ve identified three main relationship scenarios for partners after infidelity: those who get stuck in the past (sufferers); those who pull themselves out of the abyss and let go of the past (builders); and those who rise from the ashes to create a stronger union (seekers).

Sufferers: no sex, but the recriminations continue

In some marriages, infidelity becomes not a temporary crisis but a black hole that drags both partners into an endless cycle of bitterness, desire for revenge and self-pity. Even after five to ten years, infidelity remains the center of their relationship. Such partners endlessly overflow from nothing to nothing, recalling grievances over and over again, voicing mutual recriminations, and blaming each other for the pain. Why they stay together is unclear.

Infidelity brings all their other disagreements to the surface. Such partners keep score of each other’s transgressions, and no remorse is enough for them.

Debbie stayed with Mark, exposing several of his extramarital affairs, supposedly wanting to keep the family together. She constantly reminds her husband how lucky he is that she didn’t kick him out, as if he alone risks losing everything they’ve built together. Mark’s quota of transgressions was used up years ago, so now he must not stumble. His pleas to leave the past in the past only fuel her sarcasm.

When asked if she misses their intimacy, Debbie gives an answer with which she wants to defend herself, but really gives away her vulnerability. “I want to make love,” Debbie says, “but that’s like saying we’re good now. They haven’t had sex in three years, since the affair itself. Sadly, Mark’s flings now take up more space in their bed than when they were happening.

Mark asks Debbie why she brings up his cheating whenever she’s unhappy about something. He says she often ruins beautiful moments — when their daughter is playing the piano, or when they’re out to dinner with friends. “There are no beautiful moments,” she snaps back. – You’ve taken them all away.”

Couples like this live in constant tension. To the infidel, the devotee becomes the embodiment of vindictive rage. To the infidel, the infidel becomes the embodiment of his wrongdoing, which cannot be atoned for. Such marriages sometimes survive, but emotional death befalls the couple. Be that as it may, when past infidelity becomes central to a couple’s life, the broken can never be repaired. The relationship is forever tainted.

Builders: trading sex for commitment

The second scenario is typical of partners who stay together because they value the commitment to each other and the life they have built together. They care about each other and want to keep the family and their circle together. These couples may leave cheating in the past, but they don’t necessarily overcome it. Their marriages become a more or less peaceful version of the pre-war status quo–everything goes back to normal, and their relationship does not change significantly.

Infidelity sheds light on the structure of the relationship–cracking, uneven load distribution, settlement, mold, and strong foundations, solid walls, and cozy corners. Builders focus on these pluses. They are not trying to remodel, they just want to return to a familiar home and relax on their favorite couch. In the process, they make necessary changes, update their vows and patch up any leaks.

“Part of me was disappointed that I didn’t find the strength to leave my husband. I wondered if I was missing out on the love of my life,” Joanna recalled at the end of her passionate affair with Jaron. – But in part I was glad that I decided to stay and not to destroy the family.

She and her husband almost divorced. Joanna didn’t believe her husband could forgive her, and she needed him to forgive her, because that was the only way she could forgive herself. When forgiveness came, it came “not with a fanfare of epiphany, but with a pain that packed its bags, packed its suitcase, and slipped away unnoticed in the middle of the night,” as Khaled Hosseini said.

Lyle has a stronger regret for what happened. Recalling a brief crush on a colleague, he says, “I never thought about having an affair on the side. I valued my marriage – I love and respect my wife – and I didn’t want to leave my kids. I still feel guilty about it now. A year and a half later, I would have to see a therapist with another woman. Still, I’m sorry because sex with my wife has always been boring – she’s never shown much interest in it and has no idea how important it is to me. I have no hope in that regard. But I’d still rather watch porn and not get into trouble so I don’t risk losing my family.”

Such partners prefer the comforts of home to the giddy risks of romantic love and sexual passion. Self-realization without ethical mooring seems empty to them. They prefer deep, lasting love and fidelity. By doing the right thing, they restore their own integrity, which is far more important to them than any extramarital infatuation. Commitment for builders comes first.

Seekers: How to light the fire of desire

I am particularly interested in the third category of couples, those for whom infidelity becomes a catalyst for transformation. Such seekers come to the conclusion that infidelity involves incredible pain, but also carries a grain of positivity.

When their familiar world collapses, such partners begin to take an interest in each other in a way that they haven’t in years. Quite often the fire of their desire flares up with renewed vigor, in which anxiety and passion merge. The fire ignites from one spark, which becomes the fear of losing each other. They become closer – suffering pain, but feeling more alive than ever.

Madison and Dennis had always seemed like just that kind of couple to me. The revelation of his infidelity plunged their relationship into chaos, but in our meetings I noticed that they were able to express and acknowledge a huge range of feelings. Their tolerance for uncertainty and uncertainty allowed them to analyze their own relationships, which brought them even closer together.

A few years later, when I reconnected with Dennis and Madison, they confirmed that they had been able to endure the ordeal of never seeing a divorce lawyer. Their grief showed them new facets of themselves and each other. Their first marriage had come to an end, there was no getting it back, but they decided to enter a second one. In the process, they were able to expand their emotional range by learning the lesson of infidelity.

When Dennis and Madison talk about infidelity, it is clear that they consider it just one – and not the most important – event in the history of their relationship. Even their choice of words, instead of “you” and “I,” they now say “we,” testifies to their successful overcoming of the crisis. Madison doesn’t say, “You hurt me.” Instead, they both say, “We faced a crisis.” This is their shared experience.

Madison and Dennis’ relationship now seems much richer and more interesting, but also less secure. They have added novelty to durability, mystery to intimacy and risk to predictability. “I don’t know where this will take us, but we certainly don’t get bored,” Dennis says. If they were at a standstill before, now they don’t know where the road will take them. But this is more worrisome than frightening, and that is why they are still together. To restore the relationship, you need to get to know each other all over again.

Is there life after infidelity: how to survive betrayal and whether to forgive an unfaithful partner – psychologist’s recommendations

Greetings, dear friends! According to VCIOM, 22% of marriages in Russia break up because one of the spouses is unfaithful. But infidelity does not always lead to divorce: much depends on the causes and the relationship of the spouses to fornication. In my new article I will discuss the causes and characteristics of male and female infidelity, give advice on how to forgive the betrayal and explain when this is not worth doing.

According to VCIOM polls, almost one in four marriages falls apart because one of the spouses is unfaithful

About the attitude towards adultery

Infidelity is the strongest stress, pain and worries. Not every couple manages to save their marriage after an affair. Some people recover quickly enough and continue to live as if nothing had happened, while others part without hesitation. Someone keeps the relationship because of the children or fear of changing something, but then a lifetime of suffering.

The thing is that no two cases are the same, and people’s attitudes toward infidelity are diametrically opposed. There are couples where this is not a problem at all: one or both spouses regularly go to the side and close their eyes to the mutual affair. Or not even close their eyes, as was the case in the film “Emmanuel,” where husband and wife deliberately lived in this format, and even told each other about their love affairs.

A still from the film “Emmanuelle”.

Much depends on the depth and duration of the affair on the side. It is one thing if the husband “accidentally” slept with the secretary at the corporate party, twisted the resort romance or use the services of a night butterfly on a business trip. The madman, a moment of weakness, alcohol – this is somehow understandable and forgivable. And it is quite another matter when we are talking about a long-term relationship with a mistress, when the partner actually lives in two houses. Here we are talking about a conscious decision over a long distance. You can’t write it off as an accident.

Holiday romances are a common case of adultery.

That is why I can not say unequivocally that adultery must necessarily forgive, or vice versa, divorce, without thinking. The only true solution does not exist.

Women are willing to forgive treason more often than men. Stronger half of mankind burdened with a sense of ownership, self-love and ambition. Women are very often looking for reasons for treason, not in the partner, but in themselves: “I got fat after childbirth, she has a better figure, she is younger than me,” and so on. It was almost my fault for cheating, what is there to forgive if he did not have a choice.

Men and women have different reasons for cheating. Men, first of all, want sexual satisfaction and variety, while women are looking for emotional attachment. The stronger half of humanity has no problem having sex just for pleasure, for women, the emotional component is important. That is why mistresses often pester their partner with phone calls, wanting to just spend time together, without sexual connotations. A man, after getting his mistress, can easily go home and forget about it.

Not without reason they say that a man cheats with his body and a woman – with her soul. In the following section I will analyze in detail the causes of male and female treason.

Why men cheat

This is an important question in terms of whether one should forgive cheating. Why do men look for pleasure on the side?

  • Your partner is a common womanizer, he got used to and for him it is the norm. At the same time he loves and adores you. And the fact that he’s gone out, it’s no big deal. “We are so arranged by nature, over there, one rooster also stomps on all the chickens, it is in our blood,” is the typical rhetoric of a philanderer.
  • The husband doesn’t get sexual satisfaction at home. Maybe you have sex once every six months, there are problems with quality and variety.
  • You act like his mother. And he perceives you as his mother. In this case, romance and passion may leave, and his chosen one to go look for them elsewhere.
  • The man does not love you. The most hopeless case. In fact, he did not care whether you forgive him or not.
  • Problems in the family relationship. Wife nags, pestering, prying to the smallest detail. Man wants to flee the house and look for a soul mate on the side.
  • The man asserts himself. He’s a winner in life, he needs to constantly check the boxes, be the alpha male and confirm that status.

Some men need to feel like a winner and macho rock.

Why do women cheat

I have already written that women are looking for affection and emotion on the side in the first place. That is why the reasons for the beautiful half of humanity are different in many ways.

Here are the reasons why a woman can cheat:

  • Revenge. Full-packed cases where a woman gets a lover in response to her husband’s infidelity. Revenge can take very perverted forms when a wife cheats on her husband with her brother, best friend, boss, and so on.
  • Self-Assertion. A woman asserts herself in a very different way than a man. If a man just wants to be a cool guy, a woman is trying to get rid of her complexes and raise her low self-esteem. Does her husband call her fat, untidy, and, pardon the expression, a “log”? Okay, I’ll find a lover who will admire the fact that I’m chubby, homely and shy.
  • A woman lacks emotion. Example: your spouse is a family man and a homebody, and you want to be serenaded, kidnapped from work and taken off into the sunset. Then you find someone who will do it. Sexual connotations are again in the background, and emotions come out on top.
  • The woman feels unappreciated. The husband is cold, does not pay compliments and generally behaves as if the wife is a sister or mother. And in a relationship, even a long relationship, there must be a light. That’s looking for that light in the eyes of another man.
  • Just as with men, for some women cheating is the norm. She does not see it as anything.

Women often cheat to get back at an unfaithful husband.

Common causes of treason in men and women

Perhaps the most important reason is when the partner has a really serious feeling outside of the family. There is no one to blame here: no one is immune from love. Often in such situations, people simply divorce and build a new family, but it also happens that they remain with their former partners. There are a million reasons: a sense of responsibility, unwillingness to change something, fear of change.

There are other reasons for a relationship on the side, typical for both men and women. Psychologists call it a disease of the couple. If everything is not okay in the family, if some needs are not met in one relationship, people compensate in others.

In this case, the question should be put quite differently: not “Why did he cheat”, but “Why did I marry him (married her)”. Cheating is a consequence of an unhealthy relationship, not the cause.

This usually happens when there are no feelings in the union, or there are feelings, but from only one of the partners. One loves, the other allows himself to be loved. One adores his partner, but does not feel loved himself. It is not uncommon for spouses to live together only for the sake of children. This model is painful and flawed.

The husband and wife think they are taking care of the children, but actually make them miserable:

  • Children see that mom and dad are tormented and often see themselves as the cause.
  • Children develop a misconception of the family model. Children raised in such families often transfer what they have learned to their own relationships and are rarely happy.
  • Having children is not a guarantee against divorce. When the opportunity arises, one of the partners leaves for the other, and children do not stop him.

Another common disease of relationships is various forms of co-dependency, which I wrote about in this article. Husband and wife live together not because they are happy, but because it is unbearable without each other. Such relationships do not bring happiness and joy, which is compensated for by going to the left side.

Co-dependent relations do not bring happiness, you have to seek solace on the side, which further aggravates the situation.

What to do if you have been cheated

Psychologist Mikhail Labkovsky believes that not only sex with another person plays a role in cheating, but also the fact of hiding it. In this case, you do not need to include the role of the victim, you need to act: immediately take one of three decisions:

  1. Break up.
  2. Forgive and try to make things right.
  3. Take a break.

I’ll add to my third solution: a pause is not taken to wait until “things just go away” and allow the situation to develop according to its own script. It is necessary to listen to your feelings, to live in the new realities and not to make rash actions. Otherwise it turns out: “Oh, I messed up, I did not try to understand him and divorced, and now I kind of forgive and regret.

Stick to a few rules.

  • Do not torture yourself and your partner. It happens that formally a woman forgives, but in fact everyone only suffer. The relationship comes down to endless scandals, questioning, recalling the past and hitting below the belt. This means that you can not forgive the treason, and it is better to break up. You can read about how to survive a divorce in this article.
  • Do not engage in self-digestion and try not to dwell on the problem. After her husband cheated on women are often plagued by fears of the format “And now everything will be? What if he is still in touch with his former mistress? Maybe he’s cheating on me again?” Psychologists call this toxic thinking. It doesn’t solve the problem, it’s the problem itself. Forgiven is forgiven. I can advise you to decide for yourself what you will do if the connection on the side again, and not to think about it.
  • After making any decision don’t ask yourself if it was right or wrong. As I’ve written before, there is no one right decision.
  • If you feel that you can not forgive – do not forgive.
  • Don’t manipulate your partner. This is a side effect of being a victim. “I forgave you, stayed with you, and you, ungrateful, don’t carry me in your arms and shower me with flowers!” You shouldn’t do that: forgiving is your decision and your responsibility, you shouldn’t share that responsibility with your partner.
  • Try to separate for a while. Sometimes you need to rise above the situation and look at it from the outside. Staying together is not something you can do. It’s hard to keep a cool head and not lose your judgment when there are so many distractions around.

Sometimes moving out and living apart for a while can be good therapy.

Do not think that once you have made a decision, the problems will stop. Even for the strong in spirit sometimes it happens that “surged”, or as the youth calls it, “bombshell. Calls resentment, anger, a desire to get to his partner and something there to ponysatelno. If this happens rarely and generally goes down, it’s normal. But when it becomes a problem and an obsession – this is a reason to see a psychologist.

Break up or forgive?

Friends, as you can see from the article, I left the question open. I can recommend that you listen to your feelings: if you clearly understand that you can not forgive the cheating, then do not try. It will be a torture for both of them, a waste of time and it will lead to separation anyway. Although there are options here too, which is why I advise you to take a break.

Well, if you decide to stay together after an affair, you have a long way to go. It is necessary not only to survive what happened, but also to make sure that such a thing will not happen again. To do this we need to work through the problems in the relationship and to ensure that the needs of partners in the marriage were satisfied. This will help family psychologist who will give the necessary recommendations.

There are many couples in the world who have managed to survive infidelity and live happily ever after.

And lastly: there are many couples in the world who have managed to survive adultery and live happily ever after. Infidelity – by no means a sentence, life after adultery is not only there, it can be full and unclouded. The main thing is to work in the right direction and believe in success.

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