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    When He Cheats… Coping With Infidelity

    By Kristen Houghton     

    Nothing destroys a married relationship more than when a spouse cheats. Many issues are affected in the relationship, the least of which is trust. The hurt spouse’s self-esteem is shattered, the love that binds two people together is permanently maimed, and the idea of continuing to live together in the same house becomes a nightmare.

    No one can pinpoint any specific reason for cheating except to say that it is not something which “just happens.”

    Having a spouse cheat is especially heartbreaking for women. The idea that the man who vowed to love and honor her has gone with another woman can leave a wife lost and overwhelmed with hurt. If there are children in the picture the pain is doubled because of their emotional upheaval. When a man cheats on his wife the results can be devastating and cause a ripple effect of pain and resentment that can last years.

    Different lifestyles create different ways of coping with infidelity.

    Wives who are stay-at-home moms fare less well than those who work outside the home. In the house, where they had assumed that all was well and safe, they are surrounded by the domestic evidence of life with their husbands. Sometimes they don’t want to talk to friends or family members because they feel, wrongly, that they are to blame for their husbands’ cheating. Unlike their contemporaries who work at outside jobs, they may see themselves as unattractive, not sexy, and uninteresting. None of this is true, of course, but shattered self esteem can make it seem so.

    What should you do when confronted by the fact that your spouse cheated?

    The best action that can be taken after finding out that a spouse has cheated is no action. Do nothing for forty-eight hours. You are in shock and shock makes you do irrational things. Let the knowledge settle in and think of what your next course of action will be a week from that first day. Give yourself time to understand what has happened.

    Seek counseling for yourself after the first week. As time goes on, your spouse may ask that you both attend couples’ counseling. If you agree, fine, but you need crisis help alone first. Couples therapy can come later.

    Establish what this breach of trust has done to your marriage. If your spouse is sincerely contrite and wants the marriage to continue, decide if that is what you want also. Give yourself time to make the decision.

    Do not go for payback; don’t have an affair just to “get even.” If forgiveness is possible for you, do so. Understand that forgiveness doesn’t make what he did excusable. Learning to trust again will be very difficult, but don’t play the martyr. Let him know the pain he caused you.

    Remember, you are the one who is hurting. Give yourself plenty of time to heal.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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