While doing some web surfing the other day, I came across a very good piece that discussed the role of the cheating spouse when it comes to healing from infidelity. I thought it was worth sharing.
Here are some of the highlights of the article:
Immediately following D-day, the cheating spouse should lose a lot of “rights.” They should lose the right to privacy of their wallet/purse, car, phone time, computer time, hobby time, personal time and anything else that may have upset their spouse. Initially, they won’t like it and may hesitate at being placed under a microscope. If smart, they will soon realize that this is part of what the betrayed spouse needs to heal from infidelity.
The cheating spouse must have the sole goal of helping their spouse to heal, and being transparent like this should not matter. And if the cheating spouse has indeed ended the affair and supposedly now has nothing to hide, it should be okay for the betrayed spouse to go through their things without warning, which will end up helping the betrayed spouse tremendously.
Lose the pride. Most cheating spouses are prideful (arrogant) up to and following D-day. Again, the cheating spouse must realize that this isn’t a good thing and that it is something to get rid of in order to facilitate healing. We often hear betrayed spouses being told by the cheater to “get over it,” when in all honesty, the cheating spouse needs to “get over themselves.”
Both partners have the right to check up on each other and are responsible not just to themselves but to each other as well. The marriage should be more of a loving partnership – united together on all fronts.
Each has the right to talk to each other without getting defensive or angry. The betrayed can say whatever he/she needs to in order to heal and the cheating spouse will take it. Not as a personal attack no matter how nasty it may get, but again because he/she needs to express it.
The cheating spouse also has the right to talk about things that were upsetting to them with a promise from the betrayed spouse that he/she would listen. The couple needs to let each other know what they’re feeling – good or bad – and why.
The cheating spouse should not expect too much in terms of physical or emotional intimacy. When the betrayed feels like he/she could give these gifts back, they will let the cheater know.
Do not expect instant trust and forgiveness. It shouldn’t happen immediately and may not happen for a long time. The cheater should be prepared to give up friends, and activities that can upset the betrayed, especially if the activity is what led to the affair. Everything of consequence should be eliminated for the betrayed spouse to heal.
With anything that happens in the months that follow D-day, the cheater should ask themselves: “Is this helping my spouse to heal?” If the answer is no, then they must look for something else that isn’t as threatening. The cheating spouse must be prepared to work their hardest to show the betrayed spouse that without a doubt, they regretted their actions and words, and is striving to be someone he/she could love and trust again.
The cheater must realize that some betrayed spouses cannot recover from this trauma. That doesn’t reflect badly on either party– just that everyone is different. The betrayed spouse will decide if they want to reconcile or not. It may take months, weeks or years. It doesn’t matter, as grief has no timetable. But a remorseful cheater should be willing to put up all of this hard work even if the relationship ultimately fails. Because again, this is what the betrayed spouse needs to heal.
What does a cheating spouse get for all the hard work if the relationship fails? First and foremost, it’s a chance to atone for their horrible behavior. Redemption is a very powerful motivator – just like guilt and love can be. Most remorseful cheaters are filled with self-hatred and disgust for themselves. “How could I do this to someone I love? How am I capable of this? What can I do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?” These questions should be answered as part of a journey into the soul to make sure that it doesn’t ever happen again.
Helping the betrayed spouse to heal from infidelity can also greatly help a wayward spouse heal. The betrayed is hurt, angry and devastated, and the cheater is responsible. So take that responsibility seriously and help them gain their sense of self and family again.
The cheater has brought the betrayed spouse to the lowest point of their life— now try bringing them back to the highest point. Get them to smile and laugh and be genuine about it. Again, it may take a long while, but in the end it will be worth it.
If a betrayed spouse can see love for a former cheater, the cheater should accept that gift and start to see past their mistakes. Deciding never ever to go down this dark path is another indicator of healing. A cheater can begin to accept them self – and their betrayed spouse – more as a person, complete with flaws, and not as an icon or who they thought they were.
Look at your spouse with open eyes and love them for who they are, flaws and all. Finally, you get a little of your own self-esteem and self-worth back.
As a former wayward spouse, focus on your initial commitment to the betrayed spouse. Then let God and fate take their course. Know too, that even if the relationship fails, you did everything you could and then some to atone for your mistakes and help the one you love heal from infidelity.
Discover the 24 “tasks” that a cheater must perform in order for you to heal from an affair.