Whether it is a decades-long affair or a spontaneous tryst, infidelity is painful and destructive. It may be the result of boredom, poor self-esteem, marital unhappiness, depression or an array of other factors, according to Frank Pittman in his article for Psychology Today, titled "Beyond Betrayal: Life After Infidelity." It is generally not, however, a healthy remedy for any of these issues. Because the dynamics of infidelity are complex and dynamic, several courses of action are available to ensure that you recover from the experience as wholly as possible.
Discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful is likely to lead to shock, disbelief, rage and painful sadness, according to therapist Rona Subotnik in her article "Healing From Infidelity and Depression." Working through these emotions and discussing the circumstances with your spouse will be particularly challenging. For the healthiest and most productive conversations, Subotnik suggests communicating carefully and assertively. This includes taking turns while speaking instead of interrupting thoughts and talking over one another, limiting the discussions and taking breaks between them and maintaining openness and respect.
Being hurt by a cheating partner is emotionally and sometimes even physically painful. To both heal from the trauma and address your broken relationship, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance from a qualified counselor or therapist. Information available via the Mayo Clinic indicates that working with a specially trained individual can help you identify the issues that contributed to the affair, put them in perspective and resolve them. Subotnik also points out that a medical professional can assist with stress-related ailments and prescribe medication as necessary.
Mend the Marriage
Divorce or separation following infidelity is common, but not always necessary. If you and your partner have concluded that you'd like to commit to rebuilding the relationship, it is quite possible to do so -- and to find it stronger than it has ever been. Giving one another sufficient time and space is an integral part of mending the marriage, according to the Mayo Clinic staff, and restoring trust should be the ultimate goal. Subotnik also reports that adjusting the atmosphere at home, such as adopting the communication tactics referred to above, is likely to be beneficial.
End the Marriage
Recovering from the betrayal of infidelity is not always possible, and some relationships are deemed irreparable. One or both of you may not be interested in working through the matter, or you may make several valiant but unsuccessful attempts to do so. If you have opted to end the relationship, assertive interactions and professional assistance remain essential to a healthy recovery. Clear communication can expedite the process of divorce, and a counselor or therapist can offer support and encouragement throughout the ordeal. Additionally, legal counsel pertaining to matters such as property ownership and the custody of children is encouraged.
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Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.