If You are Caught in Infidelity
Probably 1 in 5 couples who come to my office have an infidelity as the presenting problem. This can mean a one night stand, a visit to a massage parlor, an on-line flirtation without actual physical contact or an actual relationship with another person. Whatever the details, this is always an extremely painful experience for both parties with many different emotions.
In my experience, there are many questions to consider in handling this type of situation, but the following 3 themes always come up. These 3 points come from numerous experiences of many different couples in various scenarios. Here are my suggestions to the couple and the partner who has cheated.
Own up to it.
Regardless of what you want to do with your relationship, once the infidelity is discovered, it is important to admit it. In my experience, the person who cheated will go miles denying that it happened or details about it, until the other partner comes up with actual proof. While I understand that no one wants to admit to having a secret relationship with another person, in my experience with many couples, once you are found out just tell the truth and be honest. As hard as it is. Otherwise, what happens is that the injured partner not only feels betrayed but because of lies and denial of the affair and its details until the evidence and proof are right there. There is an even bigger trust issue. It's hard enough to stomach the affair but all the lies and covering up make this much more difficult to move on from. "Once a liar always a liar."
Be prepared for questions, many of them and the same ones over and over again.
It is very common in my sessions with couples with infidelity, the cheating partner complains about the same questions being asked over and over again. There seems to be no end to this "interrogation," and with time it feels hopeless and even irritating. It is important to understand that an infidelity is often a shock to the injured partner and he or she will often feel like the world as they know it has fallen apart and there is a sense of not knowing what is going on or who your partner is. This questioning is in part an attempt to get control of the experience and also an attempt to "know everything" so that there are no more shocking discoveries later. It is also an attempt to understand and process the experience and find a new way of viewing your partner and relationship. It is an understandable way of mastering and understanding a new reality. The partner who cheated needs to understand that this is what comes with the territory and be kind, patient and honest with responses. While there is often a sense that these questions will never stop if handled lovingly and patiently and with reassurance, they will diminish and eventually stop.
Don't assume the relationship is doomed.
I think most couples therapists will agree that an affair is not necessarily the end of a relationship. At times it is, depending on the meaning of the affair. However, many times it's a cry for help, and many relationships become more connected and stronger having survived such an experience and learning from it. It can be an opportunity to know your partner better and in a more realistic way as well as understand the aspects of your relationship that are problematic and detrimental. Correcting them will make the relationship better.
For further inquiries:
Check out Irina Firstein, LCSW, at https://www.nyccouplestherapists.com
Phone: (212) 953- 1388