On average I would get one couple a week who’ve experienced infidelity. People experience an array of emotions from sadness to anger, shock, disbelief. If your partner cheats, it’s hard to understand why they would do that. What you do and what you decide to do afterwards is so important and so, therefore, I’ve created the 11 tips from the shock of infidelity.
1. Take a very, very big deep breath because you will be in shock. Scream, yell and cry.
I think far too often people just don’t give themselves the time and space to simply be. And what I mean by be, is be in the emotions and feel them.
- If you need to scream, scream.
- Need to belt into a pillow, do it. If you need to cry let yourself go into that ugly cry.
- If you need to go into that foetal position, do it because by you moving the emotion it’s going to help you move through this quicker.
- Create space. Take some time off work, get the kids babysat, do whatever you can do so that you can have the space to honour yourself and feel what you’re feeling because I think it is crucial.
2. Give yourself at least 3 days before making any type of decision
Right after finding out about a partner cheating, we feel like we just want some sort of control and we feel like we need to just go straight into fix-it mode and make big decisions. Rather than being reactive, be intentional and be thoughtful. Slow down and breathe into it. Time will come to make decisions, but this is not the time.
3. Ask for support eg friend or family
Reaching out to friends or family that you really trust. Asking for support. Pick very, very carefully. It’s picking friends or family who will not judge, who will not tell you what to do, who will just listen and who will be there for you. And, who will not take sides.
Friends often want to jump in, and they want to rescue you and offer advice. This can be just so confusing and it’s so hard to figure out what’s happened.
4. Understand it’s not your fault
Your partner decided to do whatever it is that they did. They didn’t have a gun at their head, making them behave in that way. So it’s getting your head around that. In time reflecting and owning your part in this but not in the initial stage, it’s understanding that it is not your fault.
5. Avoid social media
This is very private and getting on social media and telling the world about it is not the answer.
You do not want to react online and write about it and how much hate or anger you have for your partner. Keep it to yourself, give yourself some time to process everything and stay offline. We all process differently. If you’re an extrovert, you process outwardly so you need to talk to someone because that’s how you process. Introverts, they process inwardly and do a lot of that within themselves.
If you are struggling with something like this and you’ve just found out about infidelity and you’re an introvert, I’d really encourage you to find someone that you trust to talk to about this, because it’s going to help you come to terms with what has happened faster.
6. Don’t try to get back at your partner
You may think of everything and anything to try to get back at your partner and that’s just going to create more pain. Now you are in the fight or flight or freeze response. That’s what happens when we go into shock or have trauma
- Fight, you can become quite abusive and loud and aggressive.
- Flight, you’re out of here, you’re gone.
- Freeze you just shut down, go within.
We all react differently. There’s no wrong or right with this. There’s no rule book. If you need to vent at your partner write in a journal and move it that way, very therapeutic.
7. Weigh up your options
In the initial stages, it may be quite difficult to get any sort of clarity about what to do next.
- Do I still want this marriage?
- What am I willing to do to get what I want?
- Is the price too high to get what I want?
Weighing up your options and it’s going to take time. Taking a step back and deciding if your partner cheating is something that is forgivable and if it’s something that you can forgive them for.
8. Prioritise your self-care
- Nurturing yourself more
- Going for walks in nature
- Having long baths
- Being with yourself
- Listening to music
- Beautiful soup and sit out on the back deck and watch the Moon.
- 30 minutes of meditation.
- Long walk down by the ocean.
Listen to your heart centre and what you need for some self-love and self-compassion.
9. Reflect and try to understand why it happened
This isn’t about beating yourself up. It’s not about criticising yourself, giving yourself a hard time, it’s reflecting. It’s being honest with yourself.
What’s been my part in this? Because yes, number four was understood it’s not your fault, but reflecting and try to understand why it happened is a very crucial step in the healing process.
Have I been quite critical to my partner? Have I shut down from my partner? Have I been depressed for the last two years and not giving my partner any attention?
10. Begin working towards acceptance, work through grief
It’s getting to a place of acceptance because when we have pain, we are not in acceptance. And when you can get to that place of acceptance, it will be less painful for you and working through the grief is the key. You’re not saying what has happened is ok on any level. You don’t like it but this has been out of your control.
These initial stages and the shock of infidelity, it’s like you’re in a washing machine or you’re on a roller coaster and you have just got so many emotions and your up and down like a Yoyo.
There are 5 stages of grief
Grief is not something that can be controlled but felt and allowing yourself to feel the different stages which can come in any order.
11. Work with a therapist
Finding a trusted therapist to begin unpacking this is so important. A rebirth, awakening in a relationship can occur. Unpacking the old relationship as to what went wrong and what does a healthy relationship look like moving forward is a great place to start. Is the risk worth it?
Find out more about this topic on my Empowered Marriage Podcast – https://www.powerofchange.com.au/empowered-marriage-podcast/