Cheating in relationships: Can you bounce back?
What you need to know:
For lots of people, cheating in a relationship is one of the biggest acts of betrayal against their partner. In many cases, infidelity is a clear signal that the relationship is over. And yet, that cannot be said in every instance.
He had heard rumours that his wife of 10 years was cheating on him with her boss, but he chose to give her the benefit of the doubt. Before long, the news spread to the extent that even his own friends knew that his wife was cheating. One day, he found them sharing a kiss. At home, she tried to make excuses but later asked for forgiveness for what she called a ‘mishap’.
In love with his wife, Bob Kasule does his best to forgive her. However, after just a few days, he finds them at a motel after an alleged work trip out of town. She again apologises for lying and cheating on him. While she stays true to her word this time, six months down the road, Kasule is not sure of what to make of it or how to move on.
If a couple is bent on working on their relationship after acts of infidelity, Esther Nanoozi, a marriage counsellor, says the anger and related emotions do not just disappear.
“The reminders seem so painful than ever before. These could be words, places, events or phrases that give the infidelity an undying lifespan for you. This will happen even after you have committed to moving on beyond the past for the better. Worse still, these triggers seem to eliminate all these efforts presenting walking out as the easier alternative,” she shares.
That said, if you are committed to making your relationship work, here are some tips:
Deal with the triggers
It is easy for society to tell the other partner to move on. However, Derrick Kiwewa, a counsellor, says there is no guarantee that the one whose arms will embrace you will not hurt you.
“We are humans, not angels. That said, the unfaithful partner ought to become careful about the things they did or said leading up to the cheating. For example, if the cheating happened under the pretext of working late, make it a point to return home early. If the excuse was work trips, cut those out unless you are making them with your partner. It could be the long phone calls on the veranda, you will want to cut them out. If you keep doing these things, you will always be serving your partner with a bowl of suspicion and anxiety regardless of your innocence,” he says. Kiwewa adds that commitment to rejuvenating your relationship demands that you give your partner reason to trust you again and this calls for letting go of some practices.
You also need to appreciate that your partner has some reservations. In this case, Nanoozi says, desist from feeling attacked when they ask about your whereabouts.
“There is no need for the aggrieved party to make the wound fester by allowing suspicions to escalate. Otherwise, your marriage will not thrive, it will only get chocked by all these bottlenecks. Going forward, give your partner room to prove themselves worth trusting again,” she advises.
Add flavour to your relationship
Chances are that when one meets the one they cheated with, the old feelings will be renewed. With this comes memories of yesterday and chances of reigniting the relationship and the affiliated feelings. However, Kiwewa says, to ably fight these without putting pressure on your partner is to add flavour to your relationship.
“We must agree that there is no smoke without fire. It could be that the cheating partner was missing something they saw out there. Rather than play judge, it would help the aggrieved partner to take an inventory of the relationship and see where the cracks are and find ways to fix them. To the other partner, at times all you need to do is to think about the beautiful things about your spouse. It helps to intentionally think about them and focus your emotions on them rather than the affair,” he shares.
In times of distress, when your emotions cannot handle the pain:
When you feel that your emotions are out of place, your judgement is definitely skewed and you need to tame yourself. One way to do this is to take three deep breaths as you exhale through your mouth.
“That will help you beautifully clear your mind. Additionally, assess your senses. Ask yourself what you see, feel, smell and hear. Taking time to pay close attention to the normal things of life such as the smells around you will allow you to take things into perspective,” Nanoozi says.
Take care of your thoughts
Emotions are in play here more than ever and acknowledging them is important. It will not help you to bottle them up, time will come when you explode. Kiwewa says our thoughts are valid although they should not stay the same.
“That is why journaling is important as well as talking to a professional to help you process your thoughts. It is imperative that you address them in an open and honest manner with someone who will not judge you. That way, you can easily pick up your pieces and heal better and faster,” he says.
In all this, there is no pressure to get to the other side; give yourself time to heal. However, priority should be to forgive because it is the best remedy whether the relationship works out or not. It helps you heal and move on into a bright rather than a blurred future.
Spend time with close friends
After a partner cheats on you, it can make you feel alone. You may withdraw from people without even realising you are doing it. Even worse, dealing with the situation alone can make you feel worse.
A great way to remedy this feeling is by spending time with people who really care about you. It is a great opportunity to plan a weekend getaway with people who will remind you of how amazing you are. Most importantly, they will help keep your mind off of your unfaithful partner so you are not wallowing in misery.
You may want to trash-talk your partner on Facebook, fantasize about keying their car, or maybe have an affair of your own. In the movies when people are learning how to get over cheating, their first course of action is sometimes to get even. But in reality, this is not a good first step. Acting destructively to even the score will do no good, and may even have financial consequences.