If you’ve found out that your spouse was cheating, you’re most likely on an emotional rollercoaster. Like many people, you may blame yourself; you might even alternate between blaming yourself, blaming your spouse, and blaming the other person involved.
According to psychologists, that’s all completely normal—but how can you cope with the fact that your husband or wife cheated on you and put your life back together?
What Should the Betrayed Spouse Do After an Affair?
If you’re the betrayed spouse, you essentially have two choices: you can stay in the marriage or you can leave it (provided that the cheater hasn’t left you for someone else).
According to Mark D. White, Ph.D. (author of Maybe It’s Just Me, But…), the most important thing is to take care of yourself.
“The jilted spouse should take care of her kids (and any other obligations) in what she feels is the right way, and then take care of herself,” says White. “If she places a high value on the relationship — on the “for better or for worse” part of the vows — then she may choose to stay married to the adulterer. Her task then becomes trying to deal with or get past the adultery.”
“If the wife feels that the marriage has been ruined, damaged beyond repair, or even if she simply has no desire to try to stay with a man who betrayed her trust, then she can leave her husband—certainly few would begrudge her this choice,” White says.
Psychologically coping is another matter, though, according to Dr. White.
“Some may need to confront the memory (and perhaps even her ex-husband) directly in an attempt to achieve closure; some may need to forget and put the experience past them; and some may need to forgive as well as forget. The general point is that she must do what is best for her; her only obligation at that point (ruling out children) is to herself,” says White.
Your primary obligation? Yourself and your children.
One final piece of advice from Dr. White: make sure you learn from the experience.
“By all means, don’t dwell on it, don’t ruminate, and don’t beat yourself up. But after some time has passed, and some of the pain has healed, take a moment to reflect, either by yourself or with the help of a friend, and see what you can take from the past to make your future better, and come out of it a better person,” White says.
Do You Need to Talk to a Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer?
If you’re married to a cheating spouse and you’d like to explore your options for leaving the marriage, please feel free to call our Milwaukee divorce lawyers at 414-383-6700 for a free divorce consultation.