Good news, infidelity even in a fresh marriage, does not have to be the end of the road. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a vast majority of married women (15%) and married men (20%) reported to have engaged in an extramarital affair. The numbers are 20% higher when emotional and sexual relationships without sexual activity are factored into the equation. It’s true the percentage of couples surviving infidelity is low, like an estimated 16% of couples. However, every relationship and couple is unique. In fact, marriage counselors have discovered that in some cases an infidelity can actually strengthen a marriage. Because an affair forces a couple to communicate and to better empathize and intuit their partner’s needs.
Also, a new study referenced in The Atlantic(2017) reported that young Americans are less likely to cheat than baby boomers (fun fact). Nevertheless, what constitutes cheating is subjective to the individual and should be discussed with one’s partner early into the union. And it should not be over-looked that men and women generally cheat for very different reasons.
As the write Paulo Coelho writes in his novel Adultery,” Men cheat because it’s in their genetic code. A woman does it because she doesn’t have enough
dignity; in addition to handing over her body, she always ends up handing over a bit of her heart.”
Regardless, it is important to remember: in life there are no guarantees. People in long-term relationships should not take their partner for granted and know that it is always within a person’s rights to walk away. It is paramount in any relationship to set perimeters. Below are 6 steps for surviving infidelity in a fresh marriage.
When a Relationship Cannot Survive Infidelity
If you are a victim to an extramarital affair. It’s worth noting, that you should AVOID the following situations when making your decision in moving forward with your partner.
- The cheating is a pattern
- The person refuses to take accountability for their part in the affair
- If someone is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive
- The cheater is no longer in love with or is in love with someone else
For tips on what a healthy relationship looks like, read our article.
1. Make Sure the Affair is Over to Survive Infidelity
First thing, make sure the cheater has cut ties with the other person. Completely. In-order to rebuild trust, the other person needs to cut all correspondence with the offender both in-person, as well as all social media contacts. Interestingly, in the digital age many Americans view emotional cheating as harmful to the relationship as physical cheating. Men tend to view intercourse outside the marriage as the ultimate betrayal. Whereas women are more devastated if a man falls in love with another women.
Sheri Meyer’s bestselling novel, Chatting or Cheating is great guide for anyone who suspects that their partner is having an affair or for anyone who is engaging in an affair. The books provides key signs and tools for recovery. And yes, “emotional sex,” is a real a thing. A texting relationship can trigger the same hormones and parts of the brain that are engaged, while having sex. So again, make sure the affair is over if you choose to rebuild the relationship.
2. Both Cheater and Victim Must Take Accountability to Survive Infidelity
As they say, it takes two to tango. We often assign sole blame to the individual who chose to be unfaithful, when the reality is take two committed people for a successful marriage or relationship. The key to surviving infidelity is communication and accountability for what went wrong in the relationship and what may have acted as a catalyst for the affair. It is essential that the cheater takes responsibility for their actions and makes it a point to make amends to their partner. Also, it is important for the victim to listen to their partner and their reasoning for their actions. Did someone feel neglected or unappreciated? Many infidelities occur after someone checked-out of the marriage, physically or emotionally.
Also, sometimes less is more when discussing the affair. Don’t ask your cheating partner to disclose every detail of the affair.
3. Seek Counseling and External Support to Survive Infidelity
To survive infidelity. Be proactive and seek couple’s counseling with an experienced marriage counselor who can give you the proper tools to repair your marriage. Individually, it can be beneficial to lean on friends or family through this difficult transition.
The key to any successful relationship is communication. Especially through your marriage’s rough patch, it is important to constantly check-in with your partner. Ask them how they are feeling. An affair can facilitate a wave of emotions for both parties like anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness. For anyone who has been cheated on, it feels like your entire world has been flipped upside down and the pain can be earth shattering. It is vital that your partner knows that you are both physically, emotionally, and intellectually committed to them. Tackle conflicts and disagreements as they manifest. Don’t postpone working through issues in your marriage as a general rule for any healthy relationship. You never want things to fester. It’s like the adage: never go to bed mad.
5. Survive Infidelity By Going on Dates
The crux to any relationships is complacency. We all want someone who we can be ourselves with and can sit on the couch and watch TV with, but we all still want a spark of romance and mystery. Experts suggest to survive infidelity, for partners to make dates. Essentially, you have to rebuild a foundation of trust. You have to relearn who the other person is and dates are a fun, healthy way to accomplish that.
Make plans to go to dinner and movie or something as simple as going for a walk. Write it in both of your calendars, so that both people honor the commitment. Most importantly, ask your partner questions, like you had to do when you were dating. If you and your spouse can do this, there’s a good chance your marriage could be stronger than ever.
6.Forgive When Ready
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to mending broken hearts. If you are the victim, take things at your own pace. Forgive ONLY when you are ready. Be sure to communicate with your partner where you are emotionally in your journey to forgiveness. An infidelity can be a great opportunity to reinvest individually in your goals, interests, in hobbies. Sometimes if you love something, you have to set it free. With nurture, a seedling will blossom.