For “Surviving Infidelity”

One of the hardest questions you will ever answer about yourself and your own life is “what do I do when love goes south?”    After that, it is the quality of questions that you ask that may determine your outcome.

The questions that you ask may help you navigate the waters of emotion more readily.

In short, “I know he will do it again” is a female from the US that is writing in about her experience with infidelity.  Like many of us, her life is not cut and dried circumstances that are clearly delineated.  She has a long history with the man that she is married to.  Moreover, beside the children and the life that they lead, she has a situation that has both hurt her and damaged her self confidence.  If this is familiar to you, I empathize.  I cannot recommend that you seek professional, unbiased, experienced counseling strongly enough.

Given that statement, it is widely known that infidelity is rampant in the world.  That isn’t forgiving it, but it is acknowledging that western culture breeds a community where the shock and entertainment value of both violence and sex are greatly reduced by frequency.  “Again,” I can’t answer most of your questions.  I know that you’re hurt and need to voice your feelings.  I hear that you’re feeling demeaned and “less than.”  I can assure you that the other person means little in this conversation.  What matters isn’t that infidelity happens again; it’s that you and your children life a safe, happy, fulfilled life.  Only you can see how that works in your world.

This is what I know: the future is not set until you’ve made the decisions that make it so.  Each person has that right to free will, even when the decisions don’t ultimately affect the outcome.  The real question is this: how are you going to live a happy, fulfilled life?  Would you be willing to investigate what makes you happy, complete, and balanced?  Those are the real questions of worth.  Loving yourself more than the pain you feel in the problem of the day is the first real step toward healing.  You deserve the happiest of outcomes and a stable home life for your children.  You are worthwhile and special.  Love yourself, look in the mirror and know that it’s okay to set and maintain boundaries.

First, ask yourself that hard question about your marriage.  You’re still there, so I must assume that you’re in it for the long haul.  Find a qualified, no biased counselor to talk through your feelings with.  What is your role in this relationship? How healthy is it for you? Are you enabling addictive behaviors, is your spouse showing signs of mental instability?  Is this an isolated incident? Are you feeling responsibility where you bear none?

Infidelity doesn’t happen in a vacuum; healing doesn’t either.  The one thing to know in your time of this if I have to center on one topic? Work on yourself, your own mental health and your happiness with life.  You can’t control what others do, but you can assertively be able to say “no more of this” and back it with a strong understanding that there are boundaries.  If you’re hurt beyond reason, those boundaries will be hard to enforce.  If you silently wait for it to “happen again,” you’re probably going to find out that you’re right.  Deep inside you, you actually have a good idea of how this all turns out and the person that you were intended to be.  Follow that guiding force, and let yourself be helped by trusted, stable people on the path.

Will he or she do it again? I don’t know.  They probably don’t either.  Universally, you can only begin to heal your relationship when you’re the only two in it. Contact with the “other” is a violation of trust. Why do we stay or go? Totally dependent on your own situation. I did a survey of sites dedicated to infidelity recovery and found that most sites said “don’t stay married for children.”  I would rephrase to say – understand what is important to you and your family from a realistic love that is going to endure.   Brian and I once dangled precariously close to divorce – today, I realize what a total disaster that would have been.  I look around the life that we lead every day, the laughter and the passion, the amazing emotional and physical bond –  it amazes me that I could have ever thought I could exist happily without the love of my life.  Right this moment, he’s taking a nap on the beautiful wool rug on his newly decorated “man cave,” in front of the fireplace where we’ve been parked most of this rainy day.  There is no one in the world that I trust or love more than my husband – but we worked really hard to get that back.  Our big problem?  It was actually us.   We’d stopped communicating when our business failed, and we were taking that amazing love for granted.  I don’t know the situations around your marriage, but I can tell you that everything is no “fine” if a spouse is unfaithful.  There are deep, deep problems with infidelity and they will destroy you from within if they are not properly addressed.

The good side?  If you’re both honest, you can share a deeper more meaningful relationship than ever before.  Brian and I have the most profound, deep relationship that a couple could have – borne of hardship.  No amount of redecorating or changing your life circumstances will change burying how you feel alive – it will just delay reality. You have to ask yourself if you are living the life that was fulfilling for you – healthy for you – of if you’re playing out the past, your parents, your former life as a family of origin…or your own destiny.

The situations around your spouse’s decisions may or may not have been the result of personal or relationship problems within his or her own life.  While adding someone that you “fall in love with” is rarely the correct answer, it is still an answer.  My father married the “other woman” and remained there for thirty years, until his death some time ago.  My mother, once married with seven children, remarried and lived a full long life with that husband.  It does happen.  What is it that you need in your life – not your spouse?  If he or she “does it again,” then the problem is still there, weather that is through porn, another person, i-sex – any type of sexual involvement with someone other than you is infidelity.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  What is it that you’re willing to live with, and willing to expose your children to?

Questions for that therapist that might help you: examine your own family of origin.  What about your relationship is based on your past learned experiences and what is present trauma?  What about you is significant in your own mind, and what do you want to keep or change?  What patterns that you see in your parents or older siblings are you repeating?  What of those patterns are you okay with passing on to your children?  What you are modeling now, they will learn.

Make no mistake: the relationship that you have with your spouse is the model of the relationship that your children will play out in life.  Make that a healthy, communicative model that frames god mental decisions, a lack of verbal, mental and emotional abuse, as well as safety and security that is tangible to the youngest of us.  Those things are crucial to a child that develops a healthy, well balanced sense of self.  According to everything I have read, you’re going to know when it’s time to get a divorce – there is no unfinished business.  You can look your children in the eye and say “we got married to early and we tried everything, and it still didn’t work.”  Don’t get into a relationship before you finish the one that you’re in, if it is going to finish.  It’s just a second mistake.  Don’t compromise.

In the next articles, I am going to outline a model in which you can engage with future goals, thoughts and behaviors that you want in your life.  Perhaps the best way to conquer the fear that you feel now, once you have addressed it honestly, is to embrace the person that you want to be.

My best to you, to your journey and for a blessed outcome.

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