Has Your Partner Cheated On You?

I don’t need to tell you about the anguish you’re going through if you’ve discovered your partner has cheated.
Most couples don’t have a “no cheat” agreement. It is simply assumed you won’t lie about who you are with and what you are doing.
The discovery feels like getting hit in the stomach by a fast-moving object, completely taken you by surprise and leaving you breathless.
Suddenly your relationship which once you thought were built of brick now feels like it’s made of straws.
What’s real? What can you believe? You wonder if you are going crazy. (You’re not.) You wonder if you should stay or go. You contemplate the painful uncertainties of any decision you make.
It takes a lot of difficult, awkward, challenging and illuminating discussions to sort out your individual and mutual values, interests, priorities and concerns.
But you have no chance of getting through this together if you don’t work together – as a team.
That’s right. This is a mutual reconstruction process. As hard and painful as it will be, both of you need to engage and participate in this process in order for healing to be possible.

a special message to the betrayed partner

You are going to have some tough times in front of you. You will experience symptoms closely related to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which include, irritability, severe anxiety and mistrust, loss/increase in appetite, flash backs, rumination, nightmares, insomnia and social isolation.
You will be asking tough and uncomfortable questions. And a part of your brain will be automatically scanning for the honesty and accuracy of your partner’s replies.
All it takes is a whiff of inconsistency or bending the truth, and you will be send into a spin.
And then you will be sorely tempted to attack the “lie.”
I understand the urge to attack. It is almost impossible to squelch it.
But you must refrain. Here’s why.
The attack will just drive your partner deeper into emotional hiding.
Which gives you more reason to attack – or retreat.
The wedge between you will grow even larger than before the discovery.
What I am going to suggest isn’t fair. But it gives you the best possible shot at a better future.

Whenever you ask troubling questions preface them by saying:

I know it won’t be easy to be honest to me, but I would like to know about _and that is important to me because __.
I promise not to attack your responses because that will make it even more difficult for you to be open. It won’t be easy for me to avoid criticizing a response that seems only partially honest but I will do my best because we both have to be more open about our perceptions, attitudes, hopes and fears.
We will have to get through this together or we will continue to suffer alone.
If a part of me suspects you are not being totally open I will say, “I am having a hard time believing X part of what you are saying. If there was something you left out please try again and I will not attack what you say, thought or did. We have to get through this together.”
The big challenge for you is to avoid criticizing what you hear. It is not easy. It is not simple. It is not enjoyable.
But you seek honesty and clarity, and this will help you find it.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. The amount of repair work is huge.
But sometimes affairs are a wake-up call, a chance to reverse a bad direction or improve something that could be better. By using your head and your heart you stack the odds in favour of getting stronger.
Two books I would recommend by Janis Spring “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, 2nd Edition ” and “How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To ” are excellent guides for this rocky journey.