Wifeys and Gentlemen,
Can you believe that you are reading my 21st blog post? The perfectionist in me, who expects a lot from herself, wants to be disappointed in the fact that I took such a long hiatus in the past , but the positive, happy girl in me is deciding to accept my triumphs, big and small, and celebrate myself for nearly 4 months of continuous commitment to my writing!
Starting this blog has been both difficult and therapeutic for me! Knowing that there are actual people out there reading it gives me a weird sense of responsibility that I take very seriously (though not too seriously, because laughing at myself is a part of what keeps me sane). That being said, I want to follow up last week’s ‘downer’ blog post with something a little more positive and upbeat!
As I mentioned last week, we have all been beaten over the head again and again with rants and facts and figures about why cheating is horrible & at some point, it makes us want to scream! Why are we so fixated on catching our partner in the act ? Why do we need to know the 10 signs that our lover is cheating or watch ‘World Star’ videos that involve fist fights and confrontations with the “other woman”?
What’s worse, after doing a search through magazines, Buzzfeed articles, and general trends on social media, I have come to the conclusion that there are not enough “mainstream” resources about what to do after the cheating has been revealed? You go through all this trouble to catch your partner in the act and no one tells you what to do when all is said and done.
More than that, there is almost no kind of resource or advice about how cheaters themselves can deal with their own emotions. Sure, you can get this kind of info from a therapist or counselor, but (and maybe this is news to you as much as it was to me) not many people are down to seek those types of resources out!
Since I was a youngin’, I have always believed in the positive healing powers of therapy! Have a problem that’s too big for you to solve on your own? Get therapy! Have issues with communication? Get therapy! Can’t afford therapy? Buy a self-help book written by a credible therapist and start there!
However, in an age where everything is about “me”, more and more people don’t feel like they need help. We are worshipers and slaves to the gods of pop culture and (in it’s most basic form) there is nothing wrong with that! Still, I think it would be GREAT if we (I don’t know who “we” is exactly but I’d like to be included) could find a way to integrate pop culture and healing together.
Trust me, I know I’m no pop-culture icon (yet, haha), but maybe this simple blog is a step in the right direction? Maybe? No? Hehe, well either way, today I offer some great jumping off points for how a couple can begin to move forward from cheating and even how a cheater can begin to seek forgiveness within themselves and with their jilted lovers. Fun, right? 😉
Okay, so you just found out that your boyfriend/girlfriend cheated on you, what now? The emotions are likely running high and I’m sure your head is spinning, but it’s okay (or at least it will be). If cheating is a deal breaker for you, then it’s likely time to shift into break up mode, acknowledging some sadness and anger and (ideally) finding some support to help you transition into moving on. However, in those cases where a case of infidelity isn’t enough to make us walk away, there is a surge of confusion, anxiety, pressure, and of course, panic.
“Am I weak for wanting to stay with her?”
“Can I really forgive him and move on?”
Additionally, my Wifeys, please remember to use your support team! Don’t get me wrong, you do NOT need to share the news of infidelity with everyone! Most friends and family members don’t need to know your relationship problems and, often times, being too open can cause more harm than intended. If you can’t find or afford a good therapist (or you don’t believe in that kind of thing), try to find someone who is objective enough not to judge your choices but subjective enough to offer the kind of support and comfort you need. This person will be different for everyone, but I promise, you’ll need someone to lean on and having that support can really make all the difference, especially when you are feeling weak, powerless, or desperate.
Next, make sure to create a safe environment with your partner where questions can be asked and conversations can begin:
After you’ve confronted your partner about the affair, tons of questions will flood your mind (Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t I trust my intuition? Why did this happen?). It’s through asking questions and feeling all your feelings that the healing starts, Dr.Rivkin says. “The questions and their answers are the first step to piecing together what happened to your relationship.” It’s important to look at the history and the patterns of your relationship and begin to understand where the breach of trusting each other really started. – Jessica Padykula
Padykula also suggests that in this stage, you and your partner create a plan of “no action”. Remember, what you are going through is, as I’ve said, a type of crisis. During a crisis our judgment is woefully impaired. Don’t commit to anything or make any major choices for at least a week after finding out. The early stages are the time to make smaller decisions like finding a therapist, connecting with your support system(s), getting that self-help book you’ve looked into/doing some research, and (MOST importantly) researching your own feelings by checking in and communicating with your partner and yourself.
Wifeys, I know it will be tempting to try to wrench every tiny detail about the affair out of your partner:
Who is she/he?
Are they prettier than me? Are they younger?
Where did they do it?
Where did they meet?
Does he/she love him/her?
Why wasn’t I good enough?
Am I an idiot, I thought we were happy?
While it is okay to think about these things and even to ask them, understand that no matter how many times you ask or try to analyze, your peace of mind and resolution isn’t found in the answers. More than that, the answers to these questions do not change the act itself. I have seen (both personally and through my lifetime) what happens to us when we obsess over the wrong things. While this thought process is a part of the healing, it isn’t the only part. The good news is, it is possible to take steps to find a meaningful resolution.
Now I might get about 20,000 eye rolls for saying this, but one of my favorite resources for methods on recovering from infidelity is none other than Dr. Phil!
I KNOW, I KNOW!! 😉
But here me out, okay? Before he became a tabloid TV nightmare, he was actually a good therapist. Do a little research on the man and you’ll see. He’s done a lot of good for a lot of people and has some pretty solid methods for helping others succeed. Do I still think he’s kind of a dope? Yes! But he gets a LOT of credit for helping to bring therapy and psychology into the mainstream (something I’d really like to contribute to in the near future), and I truly believe that pop-psychology is a “thing” now because of him.
“It is absolutely vital for you to move forward with life and love. Being willing to trust again is key. Take things one step at a time.”
Whether you decide to stay or want to cut your losses and move on, we all must remember that giving up on life, love, and trust is NOT a viable option. Cheating hurts. It hurts a lot, but do not try to punish yourself for other people’s mistakes. You wouldn’t volunteer to go to jail for a murder your boyfriend committed, would you? Don’t volunteer to stall your life because someone else decided to break promises.
Furthermore, do not try to make sense out of what’s done. Attempting to rationalize the cheating or trying to sympathize with your partner is pointless. Remember last week when I listed the scenarios where cheating is okay? No? Good! Because cheating is never okay! & it’s certainly not your fault. Make sure your partner knows what it will take to earn their way back into your heart. The relationship will need a HUGE renegotiation, and both parties must be comfortable with the terms.
If You’re the one who has cheated:
Own the problems that you have created by having an affair! For the love of gravy, you must! Whether you want to fix things or end your relationship in a way that honors what you had and shows respect for your partner, you must 1st acknowledge what you’ve done. You can’t fix what you don’t own up to. You’ve been unfair, and while I’m sure you had your reasons, try to remember (and I say this with love), YOUR REASON ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH.
It’s time for you to make a hard choice. Are you unhappy in this relationship for a reason you don’t feel you can fix? Are you willing to work things out and recommit yourself to your partner? Ask yourself this as many times as you need to and work from there. If you’re done with this relationship, that’s okay, you have every right to walk away and you have every right to be happy with someone else. If not, be prepared to work!
Be mature enough to understand the things you are going to need to do to help your partner find emotional closure with the affair. Be mature enough to know that your decision to cheat was about you, but your decision to recommit isn’t ALL about you. You can’t continue to have contact with your affair if you want to build trust with your partner. You can’t prioritize other things or people if you want to save your relationship. Understand that it’s going to be hard for you and make sure you build a support system for yourself as well.
Most importantly: you must forgive yourself. You must understand that you are not a bad person. We all make mistakes and we all have weaknesses. Ask yourself what it is that you need from your relationship that you’re not getting. Ask yourself what a healthy relationship looks like to you and strive to make goals to get to that place with your partner. Know that it is possible for both of you to be happy again and trust yourself in the process.
Finally, I will close this long a** post with this final thought:
There may come a time when you realize through all of the therapy, self-help, commitment, dedication, and hard work that one or both of you is not and will not be happy in this relationship. There may come a time when, although you’re scared, one of you might have to be the one to call it quits and walk away from something that is causing both of you pain and negativity. This is not defeat! This is bravery. Accept it and the rest will follow.
Sometimes, when writing posts like these past 2, I feel like I am not saying enough. There are so many paths that need exploring and concepts and questions that need to be unpacked and answered. While this blog is small, please know that I am always open to keep the conversation going and will be happy to answer any additional questions that any readers might have. Future posts will revisit these topics (believe me) and I will always try to do my best to give you as much information in as few words as humanly possible…cause I love you (& I’m incredibly, exhaustively thorough).
Until Next Week,
Carry on Wifeys!