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How to Handle a Cheating Spouse

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How to Handle a Cheating Spouse

When a person gets married, they hope to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. That’s how all the Disney movies and romantic comedies portray marriage, right?

But unfortunately, for many people, it doesn’t work out that way.

Most couples start out crazy in love, and they think that feeling will last forever.

Even if they know that feeling of infatuation may wear off, they at least expect to have a loyal partner by their side for the rest of our lives.

Sure, some couples do live happily ever after. There are little old couples walking around hand-in-hand just as in love as the day they met.

But for many, that is not their story.

If a marriage goes downhill over the years, there can be many reasons.

It could simply be because they have grown apart, or because they focused too much on raising children and forgot to nurture each other.

Or, it could be the reason many people dread the most – cheating.

What is Cheating?

This may seem like an obvious question, but in today’s world, it is not as clear-cut.

Usually, people think of physical indiscretions when they think of cheating. This could be anything from hand-holding to kissing to full-out sex.

That’s the easy way to describe cheating.

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But there’s another kind of cheating where there is a little more gray area, and that is emotional cheating.

The problem with emotional cheating is that many people have different standards for it, which we will discuss in a moment.

Regardless, most people expect their partner to remain emotionally loyal to them, and to not get too close to another person.

The Gray Area

Here are some examples of behaviors that might fall into the “gray area” for some people. In other words, some people might consider these cheating, while others may not.

  1. Flirting or romantically teasing another person
  2. Talking to or meeting with your ex(es)
  3. Texting other people too much
  4. Touching or grabbing other people
  5. Buying presents for other people
  6. Going out with others too often
  7. Talking to a person (or people) online too often
  8. Engaging in pornography
  9. Going out on a “date” (or date-like activity) with someone else
  10. Going to clubs and dancing/grinding with other people
  11. Asking other people for their phone numbers

As you can see, some of these are worse than others.

Some people might not care about the above behaviors (or even notice), while others might see them as all-out cheating.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Even if these don’t involve any sort of physical contact, many people do consider these things a betrayal to their relationships, and thus, “cheating.”

Signs of Cheating

If you suspect that you have a cheating spouse, how can you catch them? How can you know for sure that it’s not just “all in your head?”

That’s a huge issue for many people. They go back and forth about it.

Sometimes they think their mind is playing tricks on them, but other times, they are totally convinced that their spouse is cheating.

The best thing to do is to keep a record of their behaviors. Record the dates, times, and any other relevant information.

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This serves two purposes: first, it helps you put it into perspective and realize that it’s not all in your head.

Second, when you finally confront your cheating spouse, you have “evidence” to present them with.

If you don’t have that, they might try to play mind games with you and deny their behaviors, making you think that you’re just making it all up.

Here are some pretty common signs that you might have a cheating spouse:

  1. They are hiding their phone from you or guarding it particularly well (especially if this is a change from past behavior)
  2. They start dressing better or losing weight (the assumption is that they are trying to impress someone else)
  3. There are frequent times when they are “unavailable” and you can’t reach them
  4. There’s no more intimacy in your relationship, or it has decreased suddenly
  5. If you question if they’re cheating, they get emotional and accuse you of being crazy
  6. They “overshare” and give an abnormal amount of details about their whereabouts or what they are doing (liars tend to give too much information)
  7. They’re going out with “friends” more than usual
  8. They’re “working late” more than normal

These are just a few of the countless signs that someone is cheating.

Each person is different, so if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, but it’s not on the list above, then pay attention to that. Our gut feelings are usually right.

Can cheating be prevented? It can be possible: 10 Ways to Prevent Cheating in a Relationship

Can a Marriage Survive Cheating?

So, let’s say that you catch your spouse cheating. Maybe she or he admitted to the cheating, or maybe not.

Regardless, most people wonder if a marriage can ever survive cheating.

This is not an easy question to answer, because each individual and couple has their own limits and standards.

For example, I know some people who would not tolerate even the smallest indiscretion and would be asking for a divorce right away.

But then, there are others who will tolerate way more than they should.

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It all comes down to your own standards and boundaries.

The Social Exchange Theory

There is a theory of interpersonal communication called the Social Exchange Theory.

In essence, is says that we weigh rewards against the costs of being in a relationship. We will stay in a relationship as long as the rewards outweigh the costs.

However, once the costs outweigh the rewards, then we will leave the relationship.

The problem is, what qualifies as a “reward” and what qualifies as a “cost?” It’s different for everyone.

Reclaiming Happiness

Sure, a couple can stay married after one (or both) of them cheats.

However, does that mean they will be happy and that it won’t happen again? No, of course not.

I think when most people ask the question of whether or not a marriage can survive cheating, what they are really asking is:

Can the couple go back to how they were in the beginning and be happy again?

It can happen, but it’s relatively rare. In order for the couple to get back to a truly happy, loving, and healthy relationship, several things need to happen:

First, the cheating spouse needs to really, really, really understand the pain that s/he caused their spouse.

And the other spouse needs to know that the cheating spouse is very, very remorseful – so much so that they will never do it again!

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Second, the cheating spouse needs to be patient with their partner.

Getting over a betrayal such as cheating does not happen overnight. It takes a long time.

Third, the cheating spouse needs to prove themselves again.

They have to have consistent, trustworthy behavior over a long period of time in order for their partner to trust them again.

Finally, going to therapy will certainly help the couple move forward. Many couples simply can’t do it by themselves, and that’s okay.

Read more about understanding your partner’s actions: Why Your Partner May Be Cheating

Rebuilding Trust After Cheating

As I just mentioned, finding a good therapist will definitely help when you are in the trust-rebuilding process.

In addition to that, here are some other steps that can be taken in order to try to restore the bond you once had with your partner:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open at all times.
  2. Share passwords to phones, computers, and email and social media accounts.
  3. Always be available when your partner calls or texts.
  4. Spend quality time together going on dates and getting to know each other again.
  5. The cheating spouse needs to continually acknowledge their indiscretion and take responsibility.
  6. The cheating spouse also needs to stay true to their word and keep promises.
  7. Put your partner’s needs before your own.
  8. Both people need to be able to openly share their emotions and thoughts with one another.

Final Thoughts

Finding out that you have a cheating spouse is not something that anyone ever wants to deal with.

However, it does happen, and it is worth it to know how to move forward if it happens to you.

The bottom line is this: do you want to try to work it out or not? Sometimes it’s best to step away, separate, and move on with your life.

But in other circumstances, the relationship can recover, and you may be able to build it into something even stronger down the road.

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More Relationship Advice

Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

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How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

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That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

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More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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