Infidelity must surely be one of the most difficult problems to face in a relationship or marriage. The discovery of an unfaithful partner can be devastating. And surviving infidelity is no mean task. It can often wreak untold damage on the marriage and those involved.
Ironically though, research has shown that those who survive infidelity in marriages and try and make it work, sometimes meet with extraordinary success. In fact, there have been cases where the cheating partner has been so guilty and penitent that they go out of their way to make reparation, becoming more caring partners than ever before. And they end up with stronger marriages than they had prior to the adulterous affair.
So what prompts a person deeply involved in a relationship to stray? Where do affairs begin?
It is rare that someone actively seeks an affair. They normally just happen - an old girlfriend who came back into your life by chance, somebody at work you got close to. And suddenly, before you know it, you're in over your head. It either boils down to lust or trying to meet some unfulfilled need in your existing relationship.
Very often proximity develops into sexual attraction. You must remember that all humans have this potential for being attracted to someone else, but the difference lies in what you decide to do about it. It is the commitment factor that makes a relationship/marriage special, and if you have succumbed to temptation, you have violated it.
If you have cheated on your partner and now regret it, all is not lost. You may still be able to help your marriage and survive your infidelity but you have to act fast and act right.
Firstly, end the affair, immediately if you haven't already. There is no scope for three people in a relationship or marriage. Whatever were your reasons for beginning the affair it has to die a sudden death. Don't ever give in to the temptation to call your lover again or initiate any contact, if you're serious about giving your relationship a fresh start.
Try and analyze the situation as objectively as possible and figure out why you felt the need to cheat. Was there something lacking in your existing relationship that you sought elsewhere? Or are there certain qualities you admired in your lover that your spouse didn't have? Or was it the classic case of fatal attraction?
Whatever was your reason, remember there is no excuse for cheating . If you were dissatisfied with some aspect of your relationship, you owed it to your partner to discuss it, rather than resorting to an affair. If you expect your marriage to survive your infidelity, be true to yourself and acknowledge that what you did was wrong and you were out of line.
Now comes the hard part: you have to confess. Hopefully your spouse hasn't discovered the affair already, which gives you a chance to come clean. This way, he/she will at least appreciate your honesty. Try and explain what happened without trying to justify it. Make sure you choose a time and place which gives you the chance for privacy and sorting out things without interruptions.
Be prepared for extreme reactions of anger, hurt and betrayal. Your partner may not have suspected anything at all and this may come as a rude shock. If he/she hurls a few choice insults, do not react. You will only worsen the situation. You have obviously merited it with your behavior. Stay calm and say you are truly sorry.
Recognize the pain you have inflicted on your partner. If he/she is having trouble reciprocating, understand that it will take time for them to heal. You have inflicted a deep wound, which will require time and patience to cure. Do not expect instant results.
Your partner may need time by himself to work through this. However, do not let them distance themselves too much from you. Seek help from a psychiatrist or a support group if necessary. They have experience helping others to survive infidelity. Let your spouse know that you are ready to do whatever it takes.
Once they feel ready to talk about it with you, also dwell on the good times you have enjoyed. Make sure you get through to them how much you regret your actions.
Try and make amends in any way you can think of. Go out of your way to make your partner feel special and cared for. Enhance the love in your relationship and let your partner see that your marriage matters to you.
If and when your partner decides to forgive you, realize your spouse's strength of character. He/she is willing to help you survive your infidelity and give you another chance. Do not give them any reason to doubt you ever again.