One of the biggest crises faced by a marriage is infidelity. Mutual trust is the foundation of a marriage and when this breaks, the relationship is in danger of collapsing. If you have just discovered that your wife has been having an affair, take heart. Granted that the news has hit you like a ton of bricks, but it need not mean the end of your marriage or even an excuse to wallow in self-pity. Go through the following points and you will surely find a way to cope with a cheating spouse.
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First make sure. Often the things we see and hear may not be the reality. So begin by making sure that you are not reacting to mere suspicion of your wife’s affair but have irrefutable proof of it. Accusing your wife falsely will further damage the bond of trust between a husband and wife. This is because as your wife’s partner, you should first believe her side of the matter and then listen to hearsay or a third person’s version.
Talk to your wife
The most effective way to confirm your suspicion of your wife’s infidelity is to ask her directly. If she denies it, then put forward your reasons for suspicion and see if they can be resolved. However if your wife admits to having an affair, then take some time-out to collect your thoughts.
Don’t take any immediate decisions
Just because you have found out that your wife has been cheating on you does not mean that you should end the marriage immediately. This is a time of reflection to see what underlying issues could have resulted in this crisis. Don’t take any hasty decisions which cannot be undone later.
Allow yourself to grieve
You have just received a big blow in your personal life and realize that it is natural for you to feel hurt, angry, confused and depressed. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. Let the tears come out if they will and give yourself a few days to feel really miserable.
Take care of yourself.
No matter how horrible you feel, make sure that you look after yourself. The emotional trauma due to the discovery that your wife has been having an affair may give rise to certain physical symptoms like nausea, loss of or surge in appetite, shakiness, too less or too much sleep or difficulty in concentration. Thus it is especially important that you continue to have healthy diet and get adequate sleep. Stay away from alcohol and drugs since they can never help you to heal.
Go back to your routine
After you have let yourself mope around for a few days, go back to your regular life. Get back to work and keep your house in order. Continue to exercise, eat, sleep and socialize as you used to before, even if you have to force yourself to do it. The routine jobs of everyday life will not give a semblance of normalcy but keep you too busy to feel sorry for yourself.
Reassure the kids
When your marriage is going through a crisis, it is impossible to leave the family out of it. If you have kids, reassure them that none of this is their fault. Stick to the family routine, as far as possible. If they are afraid of a divorce, reassure them that no matter what happens, they will be taken care of.
Let the questions come
After you have attained a measure of self-composure, see if you can have a discussion with your wife. Ask all the questions you want - after all you are the aggrieved party. But don’t turn the discussion into a blame game since it will not solve anything and merely exhaust you further.
Don’t look for easy answers
While it is OK to have a discussion with your wife on what led to her having an affair, don’t expect easy answers. May be the affair was just a symptom of other issues affecting your marriage and not because she was attracted to the third person. Or perhaps it was related to her past and had nothing to do with you. Accept that you or even your wife may never really know why it happened.
Seek professional help
Being faced with a person having an affair is one of the worst things that can happen to your marriage and you need not go through it alone. Take recourse to counseling if you find that your feelings of self-pity, confusion and depression are interfering with your normal life. Also if you find that you continue to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress like increased anxiety, irritability and sensory confusion, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Reconsider whom to tell about the infidelity
You may feel you need to confide in your family about what you are going through. Alternately in a fit of rage, you may even want to tell your wife’s family of how she has let the marriage down. But think twice before you draw in others into the crisis since family members can hold grudges for a long time.
Take one day at a time
The feelings of hurt, betrayal and anger will not go away in a day just because you have decided to forgive your wife and save your marriage. Accept that learning to love and trust your wife again will take a long time. Some days you may feel that you have left the past behind while on others, feelings of mistrust and suspicion may come back to haunt you. Give yourself time to heal and the rest will take care of itself.
While your initial reaction to a wife’s having an affair may be that of hopelessness and despair, have faith that eventually you will be able to pull through. With time, love and forgiveness, you may even be able to save your marriage although your marriage may no longer go back to being how it was. Accept that there has been a change but also know the change can either lead to a breakdown or a stronger and more mature marriage than before.