ROCKVILLE, Maryland. If you’ve discovered your spouse has had an affair, you may be devastated, angry, confused, and uncertain about the future. If the marriage had seemed fine before you learned about the affair, you may be suddenly confronting the reality that your marriage may not have been as rock solid as you imagined it. Infidelity doesn’t automatically need to spell divorce (though sometimes an affair will indeed result in divorce). Here are 5 dos and don’ts to consider if you’re struggling.
- Call a divorce lawyer. You may choose to stay in your marriage—or you may not. However, infidelity is a sure sign that there are problems in your marriage. Reach out to a divorce lawyer today to learn more about steps you’ll need to take should you choose to get divorced. The qualified divorce attorneys at Barkley & Kennedy in Rockville, Maryland can help you gather important documents you will need and help you take steps to prepare.
- Reach out to friends and family. There’s nothing worse than suffering through a betrayal on your own. You’ll need the support of loved ones during this time. Build your support network. Whether or not you choose to get divorced, you’ll need it.
- You are not alone. Understand that infidelity is a very common situation couples encounter. Esther Perel an infidelity expert and therapist notes that as many as 80% of individuals have experienced infidelity—either by being the cheating partner or by being the one cheated on. In many cases, infidelity has nothing to do with the relationship, but has more to do with the person doing the cheating. Infidelity can be a growth experience for both parties, in some cases. Counseling can help individuals work through the causes and reasons for the infidelity.
- Consider counseling. A good couple’s counselor can help you and your partner understand the source of the infidelity and maybe better understand each other. Esther Perel believes that people who have affairs actually seldom want to leave their partners. Rather, they want to explore other aspects of their personality.
- Talk to your children. Older children might catch on to what’s going on and younger children may need reassurance if your marriage is on the rocks. Take time to focus on your children’s needs and feelings.
- Cheat to get revenge. Yes, your first thought might be to load up a dating app and live out a fantasy, but cheating just to get revenge on your partner will only make things more complicated and it won’t likely make you feel any better.
- Hold on to the relationship if it is destructive. After you have discovered infidelity, it is important to think about the relationship itself, as it was before the infidelity took place. Was is destructive? Was there physical or emotional abuse? Were you happy? If the relationship wasn’t good to begin with, it may be time to end things.
- According to Today, it is the job of the betrayer to help the betrayed partner feel safe again. Think about the things that will make you feel safe and don’t compromise. This may mean asking for passwords to email accounts. It may mean asking your partner to share all details of the infidelity. Or, it may involve asking your partner to avoid contact with the person in question.
- Try to go back in time. Don’t expect that your relationship will be the same way it once was. Infidelity changes a relationship forever. The hope is that it will allow both you and your partner to grow from the experience.
- Expect overnight healing. Betrayal can affect you in surprising ways. Even if you feel like you have forgiven your partner, pain can crop up in other areas and aspects of your life. Some individuals find it helpful to seek counseling on their own, so that they can grow from the experience and explore what next steps they should take.
If you are going through a tough time in your relationship, it can be hard to know right away whether divorce is the best option. While it is wise not to rush into divorce, it is also important that you protect yourself financially and emotionally. Barkley & Kennedy are divorce lawyers in Rockville, Maryland who can work with you and your family to help you navigate this challenging time. Divorce is one of the toughest decisions anyone has to make. You don’t have to make it alone.