The following article was written by Palmeira Practice counsellor, Sally Evans, who is a specialist in working with couples and relationship counselling.
When cheating or infidelity occurs in a relationship, it can be very devastating for the parties involved. Infidelity involves breaking a promise to be completely faithful to your partner, and when it happens, it erases the trust that existed in the relationship.
Dealing with infidelity can be pretty challenging and it raises tough questions. Should you stay? Should you forgive? Can trust be rebuilt? Will things ever be the same? If you’ve just found out that your partner has been unfaithful and you’re not sure of what to do, this article will help you.
How common is infidelity?
It’s important to note that infidelity can occur in any relationship. We often think it’s never going to happen in our relationship, but statistics show that infidelity occurs in about a third of relationships.
Why do people cheat?
People cheat for a variety of reasons, and it rarely has anything to do with the person that’s being cheated on. You might think your partner was unfaithful because of something you did or didn’t do, but that’s rarely true. Here are some common reasons people cheat:
- To feel desirable
- Impulse/Lack of self-control
- Impaired decision making under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Sex addiction
Remember that none of these reasons is an excuse, and the cheater made choices.
Can a relationship survive infidelity?
Yes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive infidelity, but it means that both partners have to be willing to work hard at rebuilding the trust that has been broken, needs healing, and begin making the relationship strong again.
Tactics for overcoming cheating
- Talk about the affair - It’s important for both parties to have an open and honest discussion about the affair. It also helps to talk to a relationship counsellor together, and explore ways that you both can heal faster.
- Remember the good times - Cheating is painful, but it helps to reminisce about the good times and all the wonderful things your partner did for you in the past.
- Tackle old issues - Now is a great time to tackle all the underlying issues in your relationship and create a fresh start.
- Practice honesty - Try to be completely honest with each other about how you feel and how you want to be loved.
- Set a timetable for recovery - Both of you need to be intentional about your recovery. The cheater needs to allow the betrayed party ample time for healing and honour the other person’s recovery process.
- Start something new - Remember how excited you both were when you just fell in love? Rekindle that magic by doing an activity you both enjoy together and incorporating more romance into your relationship.
- Reaffirm your commitment - There needs to be an understanding that cheating will never occur in the relationship again, and a willingness to keep that promise by both parties.
In rebuilding a relationship damaged by infidelity, patience is key. With the support of each other, family, friends and a good therapist it is possible for a couple to move past an affair and become even stronger.
Sally offers relationship counselling services for couples who find themselves in this difficult situation - contact her to book a session.