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Published on February 27, 2020

How to Handle a Cheating Spouse

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.

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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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