You need to pause and get clear on what you want.
Learning your spouse has had or is having an affair is earth-shattering. In an instant, the implicit trust you’ve given them – and built your life upon – evaporates. And, shell-shocked, you’re left wondering how to survive infidelity and betrayal and move forward.
When you discover your spouse has lied to you about their fidelity, it’s natural to wonder what else they’ve been duplicitous about. When you’re married, it’s also natural to define yourself in terms of your marriage.
So, it makes sense that when you discover that your marriage wasn’t what you thought it was, you seriously question how you’ll survive and what is real.
And the only way to begin answering these questions for yourself is to gain clarity on what has happened, what it means to you, and what you want for your life.
What is the difference between infidelity and betrayal?
According to the dictionary, infidelity is the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner. In other words, infidelity is about sex.
Wikipedia defines betrayal in this way: Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship…
By being unfaithful, your spouse has betrayed you. And there are moral and psychological repercussions for the two of you and everyone else involved.
There’s no one way to deal with your spouse’s disregard for your marriage and monogamy. Some betrayed spouses choose to end their marriage. And some couples choose to look at creating a new marriage for themselves from the ashes of the previous one.
Neither of these paths forward are easy. And neither is the choice between them. Yet you will need to choose a way forward if you’re to be successful in your quest to survive infidelity and betrayal.
What percentage of marriages survive infidelity?
According to NPR, about 40 percent of American marriages are shaken to their cores by affairs. And of those marriages, more than half survive the infidelity.
Yet, just because other people make their marriages work after the betrayal of adultery, that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to make your marriage work.
You’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your situation.
How to survive infidelity and betrayal by choosing to make your marriage work
There are definitely good reasons for you to decide to save your marriage.
- You have children together.
- You have significant shared property.
- You have been together for a long time.
- You both love each other and are determined to do what it takes to make things right again.
If this is the path you ultimately choose, both of you will have a lot of work to do on yourselves before your marriage is whole again.
The high-level tasks you’ll need to tackle include:
- Committing to putting in the required effort and energy.
- Being transparent with your spouse about what you’re thinking and feeling.
- Releasing the betrayal.
- Making time to work on intimacy as you become more comfortable with your spouse.
- Being willing to create a new version of your marriage that works for both of you.
These tasks aren’t easy. They’ll require you to explore parts of yourself and your beliefs you’ve never dealt with before.
How to get through the infidelity and betrayal by divorce
On the other hand, there are good reasons to end your marriage too. Some of them include:
- Denial of the problems that led to the infidelity and betrayal.
- Inability to get past the anger and release the betrayal.
- Persistent and consistent feelings of rejection.
If divorce is the truest way for you to move forward from what your spouse has done, you’ll still be faced with a tremendous about of work to do on yourself.
Some guidelines for how to get over a divorce and an affair include:
- Accept that your marriage is over.
- Remember that you didn’t cause the infidelity or betrayal.
- Consider your own role in the marriage.
- Expect to grieve – a lot.
- Fake a smile if you have to.
- Be grateful for every little thing.
- Don’t drown in legalities.
- Set long-term goals.
- Forgive yourself and your ex.
- Take good care of yourself.
Choosing divorce as your path forward from your spouse’s affair is difficult too. There is no one correct answer to getting through betrayal. Yet you do need to move forward.
Ultimately, the only way to survive infidelity and betrayal without betraying yourself is to get clear about what you want. Don’t rush to decide what you want. Take your time to do your research and begin healing.
It’s only when you begin to have an idea of what could lie ahead that you’ll be able to make the best choice for how you want to move forward with your life.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help individuals navigate the repercussions of infidelity. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.