Monday, January 7, 2008

If Your Spouse Cheated

Why did my spouse cheat?

I'm often asked, "Why did my partner cheat?" Often an affair is a symptom. A spouse cheats because there's vulnerability, either in your partner or in your relationship. Problems can occur if your relationship has become dry, if you're not interacting with each other, if the sex life is nil or if there's been some changes where a lot of the attention is going outside of the relationship. Your partner may be hungry, and seeking to fill that hunger through other means. Whether it be through cyber sex, through emotional intimacy with coworkers or through having an affair. To get to the heart of the reason for the infidelity, consider cheating to be the symptom and not the illness. If there's some vulnerability in your partner - they're feeling lonely, they're feeling bored, they're wanting some excitement. Perhaps they just got a promotion and they're feeling really full of themselves and want to act out. There are lots of reasons why people cheat. What you need to find out is, why did your spouse cheat? What is their vulnerability and how do you fill the hole between you?

How can I stop obsessing about my spouse's infidelity?

When you find out that your partner's had an affair, often what happens is that your mind starts searching for answers: "Why? How? Did he lie here? Did she lie here? When he went on the business trip... When she worked late..." and your mind starts trying to fill in all the details. Obsessing over the affair only hurts you more and more because your mind doesn't know what is real and what is memory. Every scene you obsess about and play in your head is like taking a knife and injuring yourself more. This is not the time for more injury! You've been injured enough after a partner has cheated. You need to start working to stop the obsession, stop the thoughts. One way to end the obsession is by literally thought stopping. You sit there, you feel your mind going off, you're off and running, tell yourself, "STOP! NO!" You set a limit, right there; you tell your thoughts, "Absolutely not! No! Go away! Stop!" And a thought comes? "No! Stop! I said no!" Thought stopping is really powerful. Another thing is to maybe go on an obsessional diet so that for thirty minutes a day, you can obsess all you want. You can think about all the details, you can hurt yourself all you want with how you've been injured. However, at the end of those thirty minutes, or fifteen minutes, or five minutes, the alarm goes off. You're done for the day. No more thoughts, no more. You can have other thoughts, you can have pleasant thoughts, because it's important to remember that what you think is how you feel. If you're thinking thoughts that hurt you, you're going to be feeling really bad. This whole situation you're in, already feels bad. Don't add to it. Counter it with much nicer thoughts that are going to make you feel good. It's going to help you get through this a lot better and stop you from obsessing over your spouse's affair.

How do I cope with my jealousy and insecurity stemming from my spouse's affair?

It is really normal to have a myriad of feelings of jealous and insecurity when you find out that you've been betrayed. All these feelings flood you. Normal feelings experienced are disbelief, shock, thinking how could this happen, anger and rage - "I want to kill him. I want to kill her. How dare they, how dare this person, how dare this person that I have married do this to me." Jealousy and insecurity is common stemming from your spouse's affair. Either you're going to want to take revenge on them or you're just going to keep torturing yourself with these visions and fantasies of all the times this person has lied to you. You may feel sadness and depression because your trust has been devestated. Jealousy, when you start comparing, "Mmm, was this guy a better lover than me, was this girl prettier, did they share an emotional bond, did he tell our secrets to her, did she do things with him that she or he didn't do with me?" All this is natural, so what do you do? How do you cope? One, understand that you are traumatized and you are in trauma. If you had your best friend or your child right by you, traumatized, how would you take care of them? How would you hold them? What would you be telling them? This is a time that you've got to be really kind and gentle with yourself. Self-loving. You're going to be rebuilding from the ground up yourself, considering this marriage, trying to figure out what you're going to do, how you're going to relate to this person, the spouse who was unfaithful to you. If you choose to heal with your partner, you're going to need to come from a really strong place inside yourself. If you choose to leave this partner, that's a whole other course, you still need to be really strong and connected with yourself. Right now you have got to be your own best friend, hold your own hand and be ever so kind and ever so gentle, and whatever feelings come up, hold yourself through them, and be ready for a rollercoaster ride.

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