Learning that a lover has strayed is an acutely painful slap in the heart. It stops the breath and triggers a fight-or-flight response. It’s no wonder that crimes of passion are committed after adultery is discovered. There are powerful forces, hormonally, psychologically, and emotionally, which tie our very sense of being into the bond of our relationship.
Here’s a guide to help you take care of yourself to get through this difficult time:
Don’t Tell Everyone
Justified anger is a dangerous weapon. Be very careful where you aim your gun. The human reaction is to assassinate the character of your partner until your entire family, all of your mutual friends, and even their family, are on your side. But this is a grave mistake. You need privacy to work through your own feelings. You need loving support. You do not need sideways looks if you and your partner decide to show up for Thanksgiving dinner together. So choose a few close friends who are loving listeners, and let them know you’re going to need their help.
Want to Get Away? Then Go
Your partner will be upset, and you will be tempted to care for them, but don’t jump to forgive them out of fear of losing the relationship. It will be insincere and will evaporate quickly. Your process will be confused if you rush to reestablish the relationship physically, while pushing doubts to the back of your mind. Give your partner a taste of you being gone. Get away to a friend’s home or a cabin in the woods. If you can’t get away, you are within your right to ask your partner to stay with a friend. You need space to calm down the reactionary rush and feel in your heart if you really want to take steps to repair the relationship.
Seek Counseling — Either Way
If you make a decision to stay in the relationship, you may think it’s going to be easier never to talk about the incident again and pretend that everything will just be ok as time passes. This will not be true. Your partner cheated for a reason, and you probably ignored the signs. This doesn’t mean the relationship is irreparable, but why navigate this minefield alone? If you decide to leave the relationship, you’ll need guidance for this as well. Leaving will remove the person physically — or not — depending on children, the process of divorce, etc., but it won’t achieve the emotional healing you’ll need. Without examination and release, you may find yourself learning the same lesson again with a new partner. And who wants to suffer this twice?
Sometimes the power of love means the power to move on. Sometimes it means the power to delve into the intimate healing process that moving through infidelity takes. Only you — not your partner — know which is the most loving choice for you. It’s even ok not to know right away. The truth of the relationship will eventually reveal itself. Love is not scarce. It’s there for you and your partner if you turn to it. So let the loving truth come forward, and though it may be hard to imagine now, it will set you free.