Betrayal hurts—especially when it happens within a romantic relationship or marriage. While there are many problems that can lead to poor communication and weakened connections between two people, infidelity is often an issue that stings the most. It can be difficult to face, whether you are on the receiving end of the disloyalty or the one who was unfaithful.
For the former group, it is important to respect your emotional limitations, but also to examine the many ways to handle infidelity—and how these approaches could change a relationship forever. If you are curious about how to face your partner who has been unfaithful, here are a few different ways to respond, as well as how these reactions can change your future for better or worse:
- Ignore It
Although many will react to infidelity in an outburst, others respond to this deceitful act by choosing to ignore the problem. For example, a wife may suspect or know that her husband is keeping a mistress, but refrains from confronting the issue or seeking a resolution. In this scenario, one partner may continue to blame the infidelity on their own failures as a spouse, while the other will just continue to prove unfaithful.
How This Changes a Relationships: Ignoring infidelity may be the option for those aiming to keep their relationship as “normal” as possible—at least from the outside. However, knowingly avoiding the topic of infidelity and seeking a solution—such as through counseling—will likely only encourage the act, and drive more wedges between the couple. If you choose this route, you may experience mounting emotions that can trigger serious mental health challenges ranging from anger to depression; these challenges will likely make a marital relationship even harder to manage with integrity.
- Seek Revenge
Individuals who respond to a partner’s infidelity with anger are those who are keen on protecting themselves from further pain. While it may be healthy to express these intense emotions that follow betrayal, quick reactions geared to “getting even” can spell trouble. Although the infidelity may be confronted between the couple, the cheated partner may continue to seek personal justice by being unfaithful him or herself or using the act of adultery as an excuse to leverage future arguments to always get his or her way.
How This Changes a Relationship: Infidelity is an act of distrust that is hard to repair, but when one partner responds with aggression and a plan to get revenge, there is likely to be even more mistrust within the relationship. Eventually, such intense anger could drive two people apart from one another—while separation may be a healthy option, choosing to leave in a heated state can leave both parties with emotional wounds that may never heal.
- Get a Divorce
For many married couples, adultery is one of most paramount reasons for pursuing a divorce. While other issues in a marriage can be worked on, some may choose this option without considering alternatives first to protect the relationship. Through divorce settlements, individuals may not be able to save their marriage, but still feel that they got “what they deserved” for having to endure the hurt of infidelity.
How This Changes a Relationship: Divorce is often interpreted as a death—the death of a marriage. Circumstances for every divorce are different, especially if the marriage was a long one and there are many assets and personal factors that have to be addressed—such as who will gain child custody, who will own the house and how much alimony will be paid.
While divorce may be chosen by some who cannot work through these incidents of betrayal, counseling services are often encouraged to make sure that both individuals—and children—affected by the separation can move forward with emotional stability. Those who pursue counseling may discover that divorce is not necessary, and that a relationship can overcome the hazards of infidelity.
- Marriage Counseling
Infidelity will always cause a wide range of intense emotions for those involved; however, these incidents do not always have to indicate the end of a relationship. Marriage counseling is a way for partners to assess every angle of infidelity, including the reasons why both parties feel it happened and how it impacted them both. Counseling can help two individuals who love each other reconnect and communicate about a very sensitive personal issue.
How This Can Change a Relationship: Couples counseling will typically bring about one of two results: eventual divorce or a repaired relationship. In the former scenario, a relationship is changed by disconnection, but may be achieved in the healthiest way possible to respect the feelings of both individuals. In the latter case, many relationships will recover—and may even improve. Couples who commit to counseling will often discover new ways to enjoy their partnership, develop greater trust and explore important aspects of communication.
Finding Help For Infidelity
Counseling is encouraged for any individual or couple that has been confronted with infidelity. For individuals who have been hurt by past betrayals and continue to carry on issues with depression, self-esteem or anxiety, counseling can help break down these barriers and rebuild personal confidence. For couples struggling with existing infidelity issues, couples counseling is highly recommended to fully explore the best course of action to treat the problem.
Safe Harbor Christian Counseling is committed to improving family relationships and romantic partnerships through diverse counseling options. Our couple’s intensives are designed to help partners reconnect and find strength in recovery from a myriad of relationship-oriented troubles, including infidelity. We also offer comprehensive one-on-one adult counseling to help individuals follow healthier paths after experiencing a toxic relationship or family conflict.
To learn more about our counseling services and how they can improve your relationship, please call us today at 1.800.305.2089.