coping with infidelity

When you first learn that your partner has been unfaithful and you are coping with infidelity, the sense of betrayal can be unbearable to say the least.  In one single moment in time you feel as though your heart has been ripped out of your chest. 

The thoughts and emotions that circulate through your very soul can cause you physical and mental anguish for some time.

Regardless, you wonder about the reasons that it occurred and you look inward for answers as well as you demand explanations for what has happened.

Dr. Frank Gunzburg, in his three decades of marriage counseling has come up with some common questions that you may struggle with when you first find out about the affair:

9 Tough Questions You May Face When Coping with Infidelity

#1: “How could this happen?” On the one hand, the question reveals a kind of disbelief on the part of the injured. Never in their wildest dreams would they have believed something like this could happen to them. Most people can’t.  There may be reasons the affair occurred. But right now your job is to focus on you. Let that question rest for the time being, and come back to it soon.

#2: “How long has this been going on without my knowing it?” People often ask this question because they feel foolish and blind for missing the fact that their partners were having affairs. Not only do people feel deceived, they often feel betrayed or played like “suckers.”  You are being too hard on yourself if you are criticizing yourself as a dope for being deceived. The fact that you trusted your partner and didn’t “see it coming” isn’t a detriment to your character. Nor should it be a judgment about your intelligence.

See also  Shift Responsibility to the Cheater to Recover From Infidelity

It is likely that what lead to the affair was building for a very long time.  Chances are that as you look back with the knowledge you have now, you can figure out some incidents that were related to the affair. You might be able to see a chain of events that lead up to the actual infidelity. That you didn’t see it before isn’t foolish; it’s human.

#3: “How many people know about it?” You may find yourself wanting to know if other people in your circle of friends and family know about the affair. You may even feel betrayed if you find out they did know about the affair and didn’t tell you about it. These feelings are all very normal.

Some  have asked their partner this question, gotten the answer, and found out that they felt exactly the same amount of pain and betrayal that they did before they got the answer. Others, though, feel that it significantly complicates their healing.

If you do find out that other people in your social circle knew about the affair and didn’t tell you, it is natural to feel betrayed by them as well. Try to keep in mind that what is going on isn’t between you and them. It’s between you and your partner, and at this point you probably don’t have enough information to properly evaluate the reasons they didn’t tell you about the affair. You should probably  give them the benefit of the doubt until you hear your friends out.

#4: “How could my partner do this to me?” This is the ultimate question about betrayal. And it isn’t an easy nut to crack.  For now, we encourage you to leave questions of this nature out of your exploration about the affair and how it has impacted your life as best you can. Turn the energy spent on this kind of questioning inward, and start looking for ways you can heal from the terrible damage done to you by the affair. Focusing inward rather than outward will be much more rewarding.

See also  Open Discussion: Lessons Learned From the Affair

#5: “How can I ever trust my partner again?” This is a very reasonable question. When you count on one person to provide a safe  environment for you to love them and that person betrays your trust, it might seem you will never be able to trust them again.

The truth is that you can learn to trust again, if your partner can learn to be totally trustworthy and demonstrate their willingness by being transparent to you and showing you in other ways that they deserve your trust.

#6: “Have there been other affairs or is this it?” This is one of those questions for which you might never get a satisfactory answer. The sad truth is that when a cheater cheats once, they are more likely to do so again. This is particularly true if they had a “good” experience with the first infidelity. If that was the case, it can easily establish a strong reinforcer for doing it again.  This is not said to make you feel hopeless, only to make you aware of the reality.

#7: “Am I overreacting?” The short answer to this question is “No, you aren’t.” If you are having powerful negative feelings about the fact that your partner cheated on you, this is perfectly normal.

When we get involved in an intimate relationship with another person, we rely on them to provide a safe and stable environment in which we can give and receive love. Part of this sense of safety and stability is built on fidelity.

Fidelity is an implicit agreement in any committed relationship. When fidelity is violated, it might feel as though the fidelity itself was solely responsible for the safety and stability you felt in your relationship. If this trust is broken, it can feel as if the whole world suddenly became an unsafe place. In some ways, it has. Your world is less safe than you once knew.  For this reason, major negative reactions are not “overreacting.” They are perfectly natural.

See also  Discussion – What is Your Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda List?

#8: “Am I being a doormat?” Ask yourself, “How would you be a doormat?” Often, the person asking this question still loves their partner enough to want to work out the relationship, almost no matter how tough the going gets. A related question heard often is “Am I being a fool for still wanting to be with them and work this out?”

You have to know that this is your life. No one else is going to live the consequences of your decisions and actions. The love you feel is special and perhaps too rare in this world. If you want to make your relationship work, you can – but not by yourself – it definitely takes both of you working to improve your relationship to make it successful. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a doormat; you might just be the bigger person.

#9: “Does this mean the relationship is over?” No and no. Not if you don’t want it to be. If you are invested in this relationship and want to make it work, you can. Coping with infidelity is not only a possibility, but you can make your marriage even better than you ever dreamed possible.

For more information about Dr. Gunzburg and his other courses, please visit his site.


    15 replies to "Coping With Infidelity: 9 Questions You May Struggle With"

    • michael's wife

      Wow #5 get’s to me cause I do wonder if Mike will ever be able to trust me again. I really don’t know I tend to ask myself would I be able to trust him had he been the one who had the affair? #9 is scarring to cause when Mike is having a bad day I can tell and I can’t help but wonder if he is thinking yah it’s over I can’t do this anymore. I’m not willing to throw in the towel I love him I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I want to grow old with him, I can’t see my life without him.

    • ruth

      I ask myself these question everyday. I keep wondering when will I be able to feel normal with my husband again and not worry if he is thinking about her or if its really over. I guess time will tell. I love my husband and he tell me he love me everyday now and when I hear those words I feel better. But I still need answers to questions I have and he isnt sharing them to me yet if I could get him to understand I cant get passed this until he total opens up. Lies hurt more than the truth. I will get over the truth its the lie I cant seem to get over. I do hope in time he will tell me what I need to know not what he thinks I need to hear.

    • Enough

      Ruth – “Lies hurt more than the truth”. This is so true and what I have been trying to tell my husband for the last year.

      My question is how long will it take for my husband to realize this? I honestly don’t know if I can keep living with someone who lies and hides things from me. He wants to be trusted but hasn’t done what he needs to in order to earn it. I truly don’t care if he is thinking about her I just wish he could be honest.

    • michael

      The lies hurt the worst. To go from someone I trusted with everything in my life to being shattered in a moment. That was the most devastating part about it.
      I don’t know if I will ever feel that trusting in anyone again. I have been hurt worse than this before. But this time hurt the most. And I don’t know why.
      Maybe because I feel that this is all my fault. I can’t help but blame myself for pushing her that far. Maybe because I could never imagine it would turn out so bad for me in the long run.
      I have had too many expectations and unattainable needs from someone who I loved. The hurt I have inflicted on myself was not worth the demands I placed on her. I can’t believe the pain I have inflicted on her.

      I will be ok. I am ok.

    • Enough

      Did your wife come clean when the affair was discovered or did she continue to lie?

      • Michael

        She continued to LIE!
        She was and maybe still is, in some sort of way, in love with him. She still protects him and that part of her heart. She continued to lie and continued to talk to him for a couple of months. She pursued him while he sat back and never made an effort to call her or at least that I know of. All he had to do was answer his phone when he wanted to. She still Holds in a lot, says she can’t remember, says she wasn’t thinking straight. She still isn’t. She thinks if she just doesn’t tell me the hard things, I won’t leave. So she prolongs both of our misery in this. Her head is so full of issues that she tries to bury and push out of her mind but the truth is that they keep coming back and they get worse.
        I’m having a bad day if you can’t tell. I miss my wife. She is at home and I’m a thousand miles away for work. I let these feelings creep back into my head. But I feel better about them after I get them off my chest. I know I ask too much of her. More than she is willing to give and I see that it’s not good for me or her. Some days I think that I know what I want. Some days I have no clue.
        It has been it has been 6 months from her telling me. It’s been four months from the last time I know she called him. And I really don’t know what tomorrow will bring to me. But here I am. Ready for whatever life decides to though at me next. I made it this far. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I will always love her.

    • ruth

      Michael, its like you read my mind this is how I feel. Everyday I just wait until the next shoe drops and I find out that everything again is one big fat LIE!!! I cant take the lies anymore I feel like I am going crazy why cant they just put on the big boy pants and just say the truth.
      Thats all I want, I will deal with the truth.

      • michael

        Your right that is exactly how I feel some times.
        What’s next?
        I thought a lot of the lies were behind us. And I was building that trust in her again then another lie, another hidden truth pops out.
        I know she wants this to be behind us. She wants to get over this. But how easy is that when its buried beneath lies and protective feelings. Stand up and say “I feel….” “I felt….” And ” I did…. Because I felt …..”.

        So now back to being unsure about if I can trust her again. Or if I will ever be able to.

        • Doug

          BAsed on your wife’s comment today, I think you she is making progress towards opening up.

    • Enough

      Ruth – that is my situation exactly. I’ve been putting up with it for a year. Lies, I find out, then “I’m sorry, I’ll do anything…” I’ve had enough. I don’t want to end my marriage but I don’t want to be married to this person who continues to lie. I don’t know if it’s possible for him to change.

    • Julie

      It’s like you guys are all in my head right now… hugs all around

    • Irina

      My situation is a serial for the movies.
      More then 30 years ago in Russia before i was married i loved the guy who lived in Moscow. I was a tourist from some other city he was my first. I was 21. I was in love; letters, a couple of visits on my side. He got married. II was crashed. Met a guy who understood me. We got married. Loved him. In a couple of years we go to Moscow. My husband suggests we meet with my old love. My ex has a son and a wife. We start an affair: letters, traveling to Moscow. Our family starts some business with their family. I understand that I love my husband , get pregnant. His wife discovers letters. Calls me , asks if she is his daughter. No way. I love my husband. I am so very sorry. My husband goes on business trip to Moscow . Stays at their apartment. My ex lover is in jail as a Russian dissident at this time. She shows my husband letters and my husband and her have an affair, fell madly in love. All of us together talk travel back and force . They still see each other several times . A lot of drama and events for a long time. My ex get divorced ( it was a second marriage for both of them) We survive and love each other. She with her third husband emigrated to Australia. My ex love immigrated to Israel. We immigrated to USA.
      I and our daughter could not live USSR, were in a lot of horrific situation. We decided that my husband will go first to USA. In a year and a half I got a permission to come to USA. Twenty years of work, straggle- and we have a good comfortable life, In throat cutting business together. Very much depend on each other discretion. Three months ago his brother has stage 4 colon cancer. He is crushed, i am supportive. I new that he has a contact with her in Australia. Birthdays once she visited a friend we met together. Like 15 years ago. Her son contacted my daughter and visit.( nothing happens). A moths ago I see an open e-mail on his screen with her name. He does not remember that for business reasons he some time ago gives me his password. Discover that he is very attracted and in love with a women connected to our business, passionate e-mails letters gifts. He got interested about a moths before he found out about his brother. This women does not share his affection, been polite for business and favors. He is crushed ( I see his behavior he does not know I know) starts again with Australia. Love, Skipe sex, books sole mates . She is in (4) marriage with a young daughter.
      We have a great sex ( always has) we share common interests in art an such. He does not tell women in Astr. that he was in live here with some one else, may be still is and his brother is dying . He is 57, I am 54, she is 53, Women here in her 40 and single mother. I just try to asking that he is not himself, may he wants to live by himself for some time and a lot of bull. He sais no and we are going on vocation for a week. Business is demanding, our daughter is not settled, been a good graphic designer and out of work for almost two years. I love him. I am losing my health trying to play cool. Hollywood any one ? What do I do ?

    • tryinghard

      Number 5 scares the hell out of me. I don’t think there have been anymore lies. But I can’t prove it. I don’t think he has talked to her, but I can’t believe she hasn’t tried to contact him. He says he is going by that no contact rule. She sent one email to him and I intercepted it and responded, pretty viscerally. No word since. I think she’s either biding her time or it really was just for the money and now she knows she won’t get any more. I think I will be on the alert forever.

    • Recovering

      It ALL scares me. I thought I knew him. I did! We had been married for 14 years before he started cheating, or at least with THAT whore. He swears IT is the only one… which makes me ill on a whole different level. How could he think for a second that a married woman with children was attractive? THAT sickens me. It sickens me SOOOO much!! What the hell is wrong with him? Did that make it ‘safer’ for him to be a sick bastard? I want to vomit regularly from this. I can’t seem to have intimate moments with my own husband because my brain goes to it touching him and it all turns to trash. I AM NOT TRASH! IT is TRASH! And then I get mad at myself for letting THEM being sick disgusting people make ME wonder what is wrong with ME? How is it that THEM being gross and wrong reflects on ME? I’M the one paying the price for their lies, regardless if I stay or go! IT hasn’t paid – nobody knows on it’s end, and my husband has to deal with my barbs, but I’m not sure they hurt him anymore. And I swear, if he ever does secretly think of it in a good light and not what it was – sick and disgusting, then he can take the walk out the door and I will NEVER consider being with him again. What he did was selfish and cruel and sick and disgusting!! I don’t give a crap what he thinks he was going through or how good the ego stroke felt! I could NEVER have done anything to deserve this life sentence, and am humiliated that I am still here sometimes. Maybe the marriage now could be better than ever, but I don’t think I will ever believe that, because THAT would require me to believe in HIM again, more than I did before, and that is no longer a possibility. I have given them my power, and I don’t know how to take it back! Not really… not deep down within myself where it matters. He told me during the whole cheating that he loved me, and would make comments about me being the best wife ever. Clearly THAT was a lie then… why would I believe anything he says now? With the New Year upon us, I have been obsessing again about telling the whore’s husband about what kind of person he is really married to. She doesn’t deserve a marriage, or his disallusionment. SHE deserves the hell I am going through!! NOT ME!! And then there is that I don’t want to invite it back into my life by telling it’s husband. I don’t know how to let the bitterness go! All of these sites say that you need to focus on yourself as the victim and figure out what YOU need… I don’t know how to do that! My whole married life for me has been about US and what was best for the family. I don’t know how to be selfish and focus on ME! I watched the move “The Women” the other night, and I do honestly wish that I would’ve thrown his ass out like Meg Ryan did, and found my passion and not gained 30 lbs from the stress and not started drinking like a fish…. but I am not rich like the movie and couldn’t go on a crazy yoga retreat and smoke pot… I don’t have a nanny and a housekeeper… I work for a living… I have RESPONSIBILITIES and am doing the best I can… and failing miserably. There is no time left for ME, especially now that we are trying to repair US… I tried so hard not be crazy and vengeful after discovery… and now I feel like a wimp! I wish I wouldve just gone to the whore’s house, told the husband, and punched the whore in the face like I fantasized about forever. At least then I wouldn’t feel like everyone but me got off scott free for something I didn’t do!! Most of the time I feel so alone and hate myself for everything that I did, and didn’t do, with regard to his cheating!!! If I could go back in time, I would stick to the motto I always had before meeting my husband…. I am never getting married… At least then I would feel lonely because I was alone… not because I married someone who turned out to be a bastard. The worst part for me is that I still love him to this day! What the hell does that say about how weak I am?!?! This year has GOT to be better, because I can’t continue to live like this….

      • Holdingon

        Still loving your spouse doesn’t make you weak, it means you love deeply, to bad he’s to stupid to see it.

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