Infidelity is a terrible thing, it wrecks marriages, shatters relationships, and devastated children who are caught in the middle of what seems like a sinking ship.
I have suffered infidelity when the person I was going to marry cheated on me with some random guy she had met at a bar (lucky for me I didn’t end up marrying her)
It must have been a wakeup call from a higher power because this all occurred less than 6 months before the wedding.
That’s why I can’t imagine what things would have been like had I was actually married to her when this event occurred, and I thought to myself afterward how I would have handled things.
How to deal with a divorce after infidelity?
Because the topic was dear to my heart I decided to research things further, and, as I have a friend who was in a similar situation, I decided to pick his brain on the topic by asking him his advice on how to thrive after such a messy divorce.
Let’s take a moment and go through some strategies point by point:
- Accept that the marriage is over
- Trust the process
- There is nothing wrong with you
- You have the right to an awesome life:
- Leverage a support group
- Your children have feelings too
- The integrated recovery model
There’s no doubt that these 7 methods are effective in combating infidelity and divorce, but let’s examine each one a bit more carefully and see what exactly they are recommended by many
1. Accept The Fact That The Marriage Is Over:
This point is a tough one indeed. Accepting that the marriage is over is difficult for most people to absorb, especially if you were blindsided by the whole thing.
Accepting that the marriage is over is something that you must come to terms with before you can start to regain your confidence and mental health moving forward.
I’m certainly not here to tell anyone what to do, however, once there has been any sort of cheating throughout the marriage I can assure you that things will never be the same again.
Trust is everything in any relationship, and once that trust has been shattered it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to repair.
Even if you do manage to stay together, I can pretty much guarantee that once she’s away you will be racking your brain wrestling with the possibility that she’s out cheating on you again.
2. Trust The Process:
You need to trust the process and keep moving forward to the best of your ability, while at the same time recognizing that moving on eventually will take some time and effort.
Indeed, there will be times where you will want to take a break away from everything around you, and that’s okay.
Every single step, no matter how short, is driving you ahead. It may not always seem that way – especially if it feels like the world is crashing toward you – but you’re making considerable progress toward a healthier tomorrow without adultery.
3. There Is Nothing Wrong With You:
In time, You will heal if you want to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just happen overnight, and you certainly won’t wake up the next day feeling like you’re back to your old self.
It normally doesn’t occur all at once so it’s important that you remain patient and trust the healing process.
Although justified, stress, fear, and anger are holding you back from living an amazing life, so realize that there’s absolutely nothing’s wrong with you.
The predicament lies with remaining stuck in the past or remaining frozen in these emotional states for years that remains the problem.
4. You Have The Right To An Awesome Life:
One of the saddest commentaries is when a victim of adultery feels that they are unworthy to live a happy and fulfilled life.
They begin reflecting on the traumatic event that led to the discovery and systematically begin blaming themselves for the failure in their marriage.
What they fail to recognize, however, is that they indeed are entitled to enjoy a happy and healthy life free from a cheating spouse, and certainly free from a relationship built around mistrust and lies.
If this has happened to you, or you suspect this may be occuring, please don’t blame yourself for someone else’s inability to remain faithful and true.
You absolutely deserve to live the life you desire, and if your spouse is treating you like a doormat then it’s high-time you plant your feet firmly to the ground and stand up for yourself.
Do not let them chip away at your ego and self-worth!
5. Leverage A Support Group:
Thankfully, in this day of age we have unfettered access to the right support group and forums to connect and ultimately lean on folks who are in the same dreadful position.
Many folks – especially men – feel that this is something they need to handle alone, or with a selected friend or two.
They could not be farther from the truth…
Connecting with people who are currently going through the same struggles – or folks that have successfully moved on – is an invaluable way to heal and press forward with your life after divorce.
Not only does this break the feeling of isolation and despair, but it also gives you hope and understanding of your particular scenario.
Nowadays, we have the power of the internet where, within minutes, we can leverage the technology to meet people from all over the world free of charge.
No more driving around for hours, or missing valuable work days. This can all be done at the touch of your fingertips
6. Your Children Have Feelings Too:
In order to make the transition from being a victim of infidelity to complete recovery, it’s essential that you do not hijack your children and put them in the middle between you and your cheating spouse.
Oftentimes what will happen is that one parent (typically the parent who has been cheated on) will attempt to remain in the relationship by using their children as a weapon against the other.
On the flip side of things, the offending partner will also use children as a weapon to make you feel guilty for even contimplating divorce in the first place.
They may challenge your humanity by claiming that you are a heartless person, and for the sake of the children you should put everything behind you and suck it up.
In short, they will try and turn things around so it looks like it’s your at fault. Don’t fall for this deceptive ploy, and never retaliate back by using your children as a weapon.
Your children have feelings, and going through a divorce is tough enough for them to handle, the last thing they need is to be further traumatized by the whole ordeal.
7. Understand Recovery Will Take Time:
Unfortunately, many folks think that if the situation were to occur you should simply pull yourself up by your bootstrap and move on, or go on with life.
Since it’s not your fault, the idea of moving on should be a simple procedure. After all, you’re not guilty so don’t stress about things, right?
Predictably, this is not the case at all…
Much like the recovery model with addictions, the recovery framework for infidelity works in the same manner. Let’s take a moment and examine this closer.
As one man put it:
I discovered my wife’s affair accidentally through a series of text messages she had forgotten to erase the night before.
According to his wife, she claimed that she had been working crazy hours at her job as an advertising executive, and she just needed to unwind with some friends after work at the local restaurant (she even brought home some food for me), so I thought nothing of it at the time.
After digging around some more and executing patience throughout the whole ordeal, I discovered more discrepancies in her behavior and many unexplained charges on her credit cards.
I had become obsessed with every sense of the word, scouting through her cell phone bills, credit card charges, and other suspicious activities – anything that would validate her as a cheater.
This behavior is typical during the discovery phase where the recipient is absolutely shocked that adultery has occurred within the marriage.
Grief and Sorrow:
The intense grief and sorrow after a lengthy marriage are sad and unbelievable.
Having difficulty eating and sleeping due to mental stress and regret is not uncommon in the least
Many victims of infidelity report that they keep playing over and over the sequence of events that lead to the discovery and ultimately the breakup.
It’s been described as a feeling where your mind feels as if it’s rebooting itself. Much like a computer, sometimes the mind needs to reboot so it can develop into something stronger than it once was.
For many, it may take several weeks or months before they reach the anger stage.
After feeling sorry for themselves – the feeling of heartbreak and disbelief – people may reach the anger stage after several weeks or months.
One guy states rather candidly:
I lingered in that stage too long, often taking long naps hoping and praying that this was some horrible dream that somehow I would wake up from.
After feeling sorry for myself, I got extremely angry and moments where I would fantasize about violently punishing my wife.
Of course, I would never do that, but I couldn’t help thinking about punishing her for what she had done to me.
Once a person reaches this phase it’s common for the person to come to terms with what they once had, and there was some appearance of acceptance of the inevitable – and the need to finally move on.
“I finally knew in my mind that our 20-year marriage was ultimately over. It just took my heart long to catch up to that reality.
I made many blunders while we were together over the years.
There were certainly times where I felt I could have been stronger and less emotional. I get that…
Ultimately, though, I was a good husband and provider and father. We lived a very dynamic life always looking for that next vacation spot; living life at the moment.
However, once I came to terms with our failing marriage and how it was not me that caused this, I knew I could finally move on.
Unless you want to stay in the hole and wallow in your own tears, you have to come to the terms that it’s over, and you don’t need permission to move on.
There are some people who can jump to forgiveness right off the bat. I couldn’t. It took me a long time to get to that place.
Forgiving is perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do. However, where I differ from many of these so-called relationships “experts” is that you are not necessarily forgiving her because it’s the mature thing to do.
Rather, I am suggesting you forgive her in order to move on with your life fully detached from the cheating spouse.
Many folks are unaware of this, but the power to forgive someone correlates strongly in the outcome of a person’s mental health and their ability to move on through the healing process.
Moreover, a cheating spouse may, in some sick sense, actually enjoy cheating to some degree – perhaps the thrill of sneaking around – while at the same time using the affair to get your attention and blame you for the entire ordeal.
They may say something like:
If you were home and paid more attention to me, then I wouldn’t have to go off and have an affair with some other person
This is the start of some type of psychological warfare that they intend to use against you if you decide to stick around (which, as stated above, I don’t advice you do)
Moving on means you absolutely will not succumb to this form of mental abuse, and that you are ready to move on because you deserve better!
Forgiveness is part of an important process, be patient with yourself, and keep moving forward in the direction of happiness.
Moving on phase is much like the forgiveness stage, however, where it really differs is the person’s will to go past the mental and start taking the action required to reach their goal.
It’s also not uncommon for folks within this stage to start dating, going out more with friends, visit family without their significant other and feel okay about it.
That’s not to say you are completely over that person. No, rather, it means that you have finally accepted the infidelity by not internalizing it and blaming yourself for wanting to move forward; not blaming yourself for desiring something better.
Going through a divorce caused by infidelity and mistrust is never an easy thing to deal with.
As outlined, How to deal with a divorce after infidelity is not an easy!
While I took the time to underlie some strategies and a brief explanation of the recovery process, the truth is that the whole process of recovery will probably take more time than you think.
MOreover, every person is different and unique in the sense that no 2 persons are alike; it’s impossible to tell how long any one person will remain in each phase of the recovery model – we all hear stories of that one individual who is obsessed and refuses to move on.
While I certainly hope this will not be you, I’m just illustrating the truth that this obsession with the cheating partner is part of a reality we cannot ignore.
I hope you got a lot of value from my post, and if you have your own recovery story I would love to hear about it. Please post your thoughts in the comment section below.