About twenty per cent of Australian couples experience infidelity. Whilst this is often a person’s worst nightmare, it is possible to learn how to deal with infidelity and have your relationship remain intact. Recovery is possible and as we’ve looked at previously, relationship counselling can save a relationship.
Being cheated on can be a big swipe to your sense of self and dwindle your self esteem. For the cheater, there are other hurdles to get over such guilt and regret and decisions that sometimes ensue after having an affair or a fling.
People mostly assume that people cheat because they aren’t happy in their current relationship. Here’s the surprising part: this is absolutely NOT TRUE most of the time. It’s possible that people commit adultery when unhappy in their relationship but there are many instances where a partner can be very happy with their current partner but still enter the world of infidelity.
I feel passionately about getting you to see that just because your partner cheats it doesn’t mean you haven’t been a good partner. There are instances where a cheating partner can be a sex addict, narcissist (who feels entitled to whoever he or she wants, or is ready to discard the current partner or lover) or an addict or alcoholic and in these cases the infidelity is part of a bigger picture of abuse and dysfunction in the relationship. But when these things aren’t the case, it is important that you know that every infidelity is different and we can’t just tarnish all affairs with the same brush and deal with them in the same way. Each partnership has a different trajectory after an affair and it is key that you get the support for what YOU and your partner want and not base it on what has suited others going through similar.
Getting to the core of why this has happened can be helpful for both parties and definitely bring understanding and solace to the partner who has been cheated on.
Resources on how to deal with infidelity
There are some resources that I recommend for learning about infidelity and the recovery from it and the relationship trauma it can cause.
The State of Affairs by Ester Perel
Perel denotes that the desire to stray is not evil but merely human and that cheating is a multifaceted experience and cheaters should not be automatically demonised. Society’s current approach ‘… focusses on the traumatic effects of affairs, without acknowledging their “generative” possibilities.’
‘Many affairs are break-ups, but some affairs are make-ups. Sometimes the relationship that comes out is stronger, and more honest and deeper than the one that existed before because people finally step up,’ Perel says.
After the Affair by Janis A Spring
This book is a helpful guide to help you heal the aftermath of being cheated on which will provide comfort and solace when learning to rebuild trust.
‘The affair marks the passing of two innocent illusions: that your marriage is exceptional and that you are unique or prized,’ writes Janis Abrahms Spring in her classic infidelity manual, After the Affair.
Anatomy of an Affair by David Carder
This book breaks down the ins and outs of affairs and addictions and how you can prevent close calls and provides a range of helpful support materials such as a marital satisfaction timeline and marital style guides.
Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis C Ortman
Recognising that infidelity can cause trauma on people, this book is a helpful insight into the effects the situation can have and how to heal from it. Here’s a small excerpt from the book:
‘Why can’t I just get over the affair and move on with my life? I find it is helpful to explain the nature of the trauma they experienced and how their reaction is a predictable response to an extraordinary event. I tell them their reaction is in many ways similar to those who have suffered life-threatening events, such as war, violent crimes, or auto accidents. In reality, their psychic lives have been threatened and their assumptions about their marriage shattered. These clients often breathe a sigh of relief and tell me, “I thought I was going crazy.” In understanding their painful experience and reactions in the broader context of a traumatic response, they become more patient with themselves and the recovery process. They are enlightened by the parallel of their experience with others who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, which has received so much publicity lately. They feel more confident they will survive the journey on the road to recovery traversed by many others who have experienced life-threatening events.’
Overall, it’s important to understand that there are ways to deal with infidelity that don’t mean the demise of your relationship or that leave you with lasting trauma or unresolved feelings. If you are curious about how to deal with infidelity in a safe and supportive way, please book a counselling appointment today.