Finding out that your spouse has cheated can be a traumatic experience that can blindside you. The feelings that you will go through after encountering this situation are strikingly similar to the death of a loved one, because in essence it means the death of your relationship. Unless children are involved, there is a very high chance that you will never see or share a positive moment with this person again.
The most important thing to know is that it’s okay to feel this range of emotions, and it’s helpful to understand the varying stages of grief that you will go through so you can come out the other end a better person.
- Denial – You may suspect that your significant other is cheating. However, your idea of what the relationship should be rather than the reality of the situation can make you look the other way and refuse to acknowledge it. There is a saying; “Love is blind”; when you are in love with someone you may not recognize the signs of infidelity. You may still hold out hope that he/she loves and cares for you too much to hurt and deceive you by cheating.
- Bargaining – Once you recognize and confirm that your partner has cheated, you may begin justifying the wrongdoing and finding flaws within yourself; in essence blaming yourself for the infidelity. You know that something went wrong but there is a false-hope which is a certain sense of denial that things could still turnaround and workout, when realistically they will not.
- Depression – You understand what has happened, but you are still in a state of sadness where everything is a trigger that rehashes this painful emotion. This is often the most difficult stage to get through, and sometimes progress seems impossible. It’s important to rely on your friends and family at a time like this when your confidence can be shaken due to trust issues.
- Anger – Once depression wears off, the direction of your emotion-driven thoughts takes a turn. As you begin to realize the likely reality, your thoughts go outward at the individual who has hurt you. Your emotions disconnect from the individual and you want to act, to yell at, and to seek revenge against the wrongdoer by revealing their true colors to your mutual friends and acquaintances. This stage is really what propels you through the heartache and pain of the break-up; finally you begin to think beyond that relationship.
- Acceptance – While there may be lingering emotions of sadness and anger, you recognize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that eventually you can and will achieve happiness again. Soon you will begin to feel alive again and excited about life. Many realize that they weren’t happy in that relationship and the break-up was a blessing in disguise.
Accepting an affair can be extremely difficult. You may want to turn a blind eye; however, recognizing the truth and accepting the consequences will allow you to move forward with your life in a positive manner. While the experience will present a multitude of challenges, they are challenges that you can overcome, that will give you more wisdom in a future relationship, and that will eventually present new fortuitous opportunities.