When you first find out that your spouse is cheating, it can be very devastating. Usually in those first few days or weeks, the Loyal Spouse is tempted to do things that are not necessarily in their character, such as scream, fight with the Other Person, or take revenge. But if you want to save your marriage, here are several things you should NOT do when you find out your spouse has been unfaithful:
1. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening. Yes you’ve known in your gut for a long time that something was wrong, and now you have a small bit of evidence or you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Don’t go into denial. Don’t pretend that spending hours on the cell phone is “normal” or that co-workers need to send each other thousands of emails every week. Face the truth: your spouse is being unfaithful.
2. Don’t confront without proof. So you got a small piece of evidence that certainly looks suspicious but doesn’t really conclusively prove anything. If you confront with that one little piece of evidence, your spouse will try to “explain that away” or blame you, and then will be tipped off that you know about their affair and take it deeper into hiding. Instead, wait. Gather not just one suspicious piece but several confirming pieces from several different sources. Get emails, IM chat logs, phone itemization and credit card statements that ALL confirm there is a lie.
3. Don’t drink or do drugs. You’ve got all the proof. You’re spouse is cheating. The pain is horrific and unending, and the temptation to go numb by getting drunk or getting high is all too intense. The only problem is that easing the pain with alcohol or drugs does not address the issue of infidelity, and it doesn’t make it go away. When the effects of the alcohol or the drugs go away, the adultery will still be there. Not only that, but you are bound to make poor decisions because you’re not thinking clearly! Your mind is altered. So I completely understand….it’s tempting…but don’t go there. Face it–stone cold sober.
4. Don’t beg. When you first have the proof that your spouse is unfaithful, there is a temptation to beg them to stay, to bet them to love you, and to beg them to not divorce. After all, you are clear-headed enough to understand the amount of pain they are inflicting on you and the amount of damage they are about to do to the family; whereas their thinking seems completely unaware of anyone but themselves! Although begging seems to make sense at first, it’s actually counter-productive because by the time infidelity has reared its ugly head, the Disloyal Spouse is no longer caring about the hurt to the Loyal Spouse or even the hurt to their children. Begging will come across as weak and unattractive, and if anything it will have the opposite from the desired effect.
5. Don’t promise you’ll change. This is very similar to #4 above, “Don’t beg.” At first,it may seem to make sense that if you promise your Disloyal Spouse that you’ll change, they’ll want to stay and “go back to the way it was.” But in real life, to the Disloyal Spouse it will come across like too little, too late. They’ll think “I asked you for change before and you didn’t back then, so you probably won’t now either.” So if you have things about yourself that you know you should work on, work on them but don’t promise you’ll change. Just BE different and let them see the changes in your actions.
6. Don’t rage. No one wants to be screamed at for hours, even if they have committed adultery. No one wants a partner in their life who will become violent. Punching out the Other Person doesn’t suddenly make you look desirable and make them look unattractive. So if you are angry–and it’s natural to feel angry–find a healthy way to express the anger–maybe with a friend or family member. Raging will just lead to domestic violence or assault charges, police involvement, and consequences like being forced out of your own home -AND- the adultery will not be stopped.
7. Don’t have a revenge affair. Finding out that your spouse was unfaithful can send your self-esteem plunging, and in an angry state of mind you may want to rebuild your self-worth by going out and having a one-night-stand to prove your desirability. Trust me on this one…don’t. Adding another affair to a marriage that is already in dire trouble does NOT make the situation better. Going against your own moral code will just make things worse, and you will not feel better about yourself. Instead, focus on doing what you know is right, and that will build your self-worth.
Now that you know the seven things to NOT do if your spouse is cheating, what DO YOU DO? I recommend you take a look around on our site, read our articles such as “ Seven Steps You Can Take to End an Affair,” or contact us via or Contact Page to set up email, mentoring or an appointment!
- Can a Marriage Survive Infidelity? (everydayhealth.com)
- What to Do When You Are the Cheating Spouse (christinehammondcounseling.wordpress.com)