by Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
The person who strayed is often and automatically blamed. This approach is not particularly helpful. If you're feeling incensed and betrayed then you may not want to hear this right now, but when cheating occurs both partners have contributed to this situation.When you are furious and disgusted is not the time to try to resolve things with your partner if you want to save the relationship. Seeing a therapist or wise friend is a better option... take some time to yourself. Reflect.
If you think you should confront him, make him change, think again. A wise person's gut instinct knows this will never work.
If you want to blast his head off (I mean scream at him), then go ahead and do it, but know that this will not help improve the relationship or get him to do what you want. Maybe you'll feel better temporarily... I don't think it benefits you to do this. There are other skills you can implement to get more of what you want.
Fault and blame are not particularly helpful in saving a relationship. After the person says, "I"m sorry!" how much groveling is enough? How many ways and for how long does the person have to grovel so that you can feel better? Is this groveling going to help re-create a loving connection between you?
This relationship you're struggling with is a co-creation. You and your partner have created this relationship together. This is not something that was done to you, or that you did to someone else. This relationship is an entity that you and your partner have created together.
How do you like your creation?
You have the power to make things better with your partner each and every time you interact.
"I can't do that, I'm too furious!"
Yes, you're beyond disgusted and humiliated. At this point, be good to yourself. Spend time with people who support you and who are wise friends or seek out professional help. Avoid 'friends' who will add fuel to the fire telling you what an A-hole he is, or how you should get revenge... make him pay... embarrass him... make him know what it feels like.
Better to interact with your partner after you have gotten yourself into a more confident place. You know what a great partner you are! Make time and space for yourself to process what you want.
Realize that if you lash out and try to punish the person who has hurt you, it only further damages the relationship and delays healing... and sometimes destroys the relationship permanently. If you want to try to save it or turn things around, the sooner you can stop blaming, the sooner healing can begin. This is not being a doormat or letting the person walk all over you. This is the first step in telling the truth and taking better care of yourself and the relationship.
Unless you want to completely bail out, and that's fine too. And sometimes it's a better option. If the person is cheating repeatedly, and that's not okay with you, starting fresh with someone new may be better,
Here are a few tips to practice that don't cost anything, allow everyone to keep his or her dignity, and if practiced over time will lead to the improvement of any relationship.
This is very different from saying "You are a fuxxxxg asxxxxe!" Of course you are the master of yourself and you can choose to continue to tell him how wrong he is, demand apologies, bring up bad behavior dating back to antiquity, or become snarky and passive-aggressive, threatening, blaming, manipulating...
Take control of yourself. Ask yourself, "Is this behavior going to help me get more of what I want? Could this possibly be the right way to create a loving relationship?"
You absolutely need the opportunity to vent and process your feelings... the shock, terrible rejection and humiliation...fear and betrayal can make a person feel physically sick and like they're going crazy. We can help you with that, and guide you in a way that will help you get more of what you want.
You have the power to make your relationships better. By practicing new behaviors and attitudes, and unplugging your ego, things between you will definitely improve over time. (Please don't tell me in a month or two "It's not working!") It may take some time to shift deeply ingrained attitudes and inter-generational patterns of interaction.
If you need help implementing these and other strategies to improve your relationships please call or send a message. Schedule a session at my office in Manhattan Beach or participate in e-therapy available from the comfort of your own home.
1600 Rosecrans Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266