Picking Up The Pieces After Infidelity

Infidelity is like a hurricane destroying every little thing in it’s path and creating perhaps irreparable damage. Finding out that your partner/spouse is cheating is not an easy pill to swallow and infidelity may bring up horrible feelings and create huge rifts in the relationship. However as the adage goes there is always a silver lining on every grey cloud. Despite the extremity of the betrayal caused by cheating, some couples can come back from an infidelity debacle healthier and stronger. Not all couples can survive the aftermath of a cheating incident though and may decide to part ways. The truth of the matter is we all deal with certain challenges differently but what matters the most is ensuring that you are happy and feel safe and secure whether you’re in a relationship or not. It’s not easy to find healing after infidelity but it is not impossible.

The human species is naturally built to seek companionship and so we seek partners to share our lives with. However relationships are a lot of hard work and sometimes people may engage in affairs for reasons best known to themselves. Discovering that your partner hasn’t been loyal to you is devastating to say the least. The betrayal, the insecurity, the agony of it all. The feelings of betrayal also bring up feelings of worthlessness which could destroy one’s self confidence.

We can all admit that the accessibility of the internet has made it easier for people to cheat than before. Social media is sometimes a thirst trap that leads people into making regrettable decisions. We are not justifying cheating; just acknowledging how easy it has become.

It’s perfectly normal to walk away from a relationship after being cheated on if you feel that the person you’re with no longer meets your expectations. Tsitsi says she stayed in her relationship after her boyfriend cheated so she could revenge cheat. This is one of the rather destructive after effects of infidelity. Seeking vengeance is not a healthy solution and with STIs all abound if one is not careful it could end in tears.

If you decide to leave a relationship after you’ve been cheated on, it’s important to stop blaming yourself. Do not feed into the insecurities in your head telling you that perhaps you were inadequate. No, you are not. You are beautiful and you are worthy. Always remember that. Tati says she stayed after her husband cheated because she was worried about what society would say. That she would be labelled a failure. However she later realized that she could not sacrifice her own happiness to please society. You are not to blame, do not shoulder guilt that is not yours.

Give yourself time to heal, rebounds are almost always disastrous and until you’ve worked out all your feelings from the previous relationship you might end up projecting the negativity you carry inside from the previous relationship when you meet someone new. Laura once fell headfirst into a rebound after her previous partner cheated. However, she had not fully resolved her feelings from the previous relationship and the rebound guy eventually got frustrated with the lack of trust despite his constant reassurances and the relationship failed to work. So stop and introspect before you jump headfirst into a rebound relationship that might cause emotional damage to both parties involved.

It’s okay to mourn the relationship after it has ended. Compatibility is rare to find and if you’ve found someone you’re compatible with and they hurt you terribly, you feel betrayed and confused. Go through the stages of grief until you’ve come to terms with the situation. It is not easy but you need to focus on what is best for you.

Forgive them for what they did to you. Not exactly the easiest of things to do but it is essential to your healing process to let go of the baggage that comes with carrying anger around for so long. Getting closure is important but at times could also lead to nasty conversations if you approach your ex partner seeking closure. If you feel you can deal with the possible blame and recriminations then go ahead and try to understand why they did what they did. Just don’t expect to find a viable reason.

Self-care is key! An integral part of the healing process is self care. In another article we gave heartbreak self care tips (click the link here:https://divasinc.co.zw/7165-2/). In the face of heartbreak it might seem inadequate but ultimately you need to take care of yourself first before anyone else. How you are feeling affects how you interact with everyone else around you. Spread positive energy only, and take care of yourself to ensure that you are better equipped to take care of everyone else.

 

We spoke to Chakanetsa Peter Muhwati to find out how couples who decide to stay together after infidelity can handle the mammoth task that will be ahead of them. Mr Muhwati is an Emotionally Focused (EFT) Therapist and Clinical Social worker and has a private practice in Harare where he sees individuals, couples and families.If you do decide to take notes from him remember there is no fool proof answer for every relationship. Certain solutions are tailor made for certain couples. Remember love can conquer everything. This is not a prescription; just advice from a qualified individual who has dealt with these issues:

 

What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve given to couples who are trying to repair their relationship after infidelity?

There is no ‘one’ single piece of advice. Repairing or recovering from infidelity in a relationship is a process that takes commitment from both partners. Commitment to stay together, commitment to do whatever it takes to repair their bond.

*We agree, relationship dynamics are very fluid and different depending on the couple

 Is it truly possible to recover completely after infidelity has broken the relationship?

Yes! It is possible to repair a bond following infidelity.

*It also needs a lot of hard work and it will not be pretty. Tendai says he was shattered after he discovered his partner had cheated on him but bit by bit they managed to work through it. It helped that the offending partner was remorseful about what they had done.

Rebuilding trust is probably the most difficult aspect after infidelity. How best can couples work on this?

Again, rebuilding trust is a process. First it takes FULL disclosure by the offending partner. The injured partner may want to know intricate details of the infidelity. This is normal and the offending partner should be willing to share those details. This is part of the process. However, it will take time and deep emotional work with the couple to strengthen and restore safety and trust to the relationship.

*We wonder if sharing the intricate details of the infidelity won’t hurt more? The emotional work required to rebuild trust is exhausting to even contemplate however we believe in love conquering everything!

In your experience can love truly conquer anything?

That is a very broad question which requires definition of love in a committed romantic relationship. In my view, love is the feeling of safety, security and comfort to be yourself with a romantic partner. The feeling that you can let yourself know the other person and be known by them. That they will not leave you, or abandon you in a time you need them most. If that is love, then YES, it does “conquer anything”, including the betrayal of an infidelity!

Are there any particular exercises that you would suggest couples engage in to aid with the healing process?

There are no exercises per se. I would recommend you try to respect what each partner, especially the injured partner needs. Be there for the injured partner, listen to them.

 How effective is temporarily separation after infidelity as a part of healing?

That is a personal choice some individuals or couples make because infidelity is such a difficult and painful experience. There is no research around it being effective or ineffective.

*Would we want a break? Probably yes, just to get our thoughts and feelings down a notch from a murderous rage. However as Mr Muhwati has said there is no backing from research that it will aid in the healing.

What advice would you give to someone who has just discovered that their partner was cheating and is still reeling from the pain?

That is extremely painful and difficult. Possibly one of the most difficult experiences one can experience in this life. Betrayal can destroy you, can leave you breathless from the pain. However you have to keep moving like the clock as they say. You can mourn and grieve but eventually you will have to pick up the pieces. Whether you are doing it on your own or with your partner, the road will not be easy. But healing is essential regardless. Unresolved emotional damage can lead to toxic behaviour and we all need to focus on being happy and fulfilled whether we are alone or in a relationship.

 

By: Nyaradzo Ngoma

 

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