Finding out that your spouse has cheated is a huge test of your relationship – and for many people, it’s the end of the road. However, if you decide that you can carry on and look past your partner’s fall from grace, there are ways to ensure you don’t get stuck obsessing over their previous (and hopefully only) slip-up. However, nothing’s easy – this isn’t as simple as booking a romantic weekend at a B&B and hoping that after two days of breakfast in bed, everything’s OK. It probably won’t be – so you need to make sure that you do everything you can to ensure that your relationship can stand the distance.
Firstly, honesty is the best policy, so it’s vital that when you and your partner are feeling calm and controlled, you sit down together and discuss the affair. Whether it was a one-night fling or a relationship that went on for several months (or years), you need to ask all the questions that have been bothering you – and your spouse needs to know that they need to be completely honest with you. It will hurt you both, but this needs to be a no-holds barred conversation that acts as a kind of thorough deep-clean before you start to rebuild your lives. Don’t be afraid of hurting your partner, if you’re the one who has messed up – you’ve already done that. They’ll want the truth, so bite the bullet, and give it to them.
Beware of setting boundaries that aren’t necessary. If your wife had an affair with a colleague on a business trip, she’s probably already decided to search for a new role in a new company – there is no reason to ban her from more business trips. Similarly, if your husband had a fling with a woman he met at a party, don’t try to ban him from more parties or social events. If you’re still with your partner, it’s clear you believe in them – and you know that their resolve will hold. It’s very unlikely that lightning will strike twice, so let them live their lives. They’ve probably suffered as well – don’t punish them further.
It’s always a good idea to have an idea of how you’ll treat the ‘other party’ if either of you come across them. If home or work circumstances mean it isn’t possible to avoid them, you and your partner will have to pull together to show a united front. Never forget to be courteous, and never start a fight if you see the other woman/man out and about – whether public or private. If you and your partner arrive at a function and find the other person there, leave. Avoid tempting fate at all costs, whether it’s been six months since the affair, or six years. People are still capable of getting worked up after ‘long-forgotten’ events, and you may find a quarrel is still on the cards if certain parties cross paths.
If you’re the victim of a cheating spouse, you may find it easier to forgive them than your family and friends do. If things are still looking a bit tricky after a large amount of time has passed, you may have to take the reins. It’s all very well you forgiving and forgetting, but if your family can’t, you may find your resolve slipping when you and your partner have a brief row, as your family will instinctively maul his reputation. You need everyone to be on the same side as you – and that’s on your partner’s side, as you’re in this together.
Finally, if children are involved (and they know about the affair), it’s vital that you can show them that the cheating party is not to be blamed. There’s a good chance that your children are angry at the person that chose to stray, but in order to move on as a family, you must all get past this. Remember that if you’re having an off day, or a morning where anger sneaks in, don’t involve your kids. You’ll only give them mixed messages, which will make it harder for them to forget the affair.
Vicky Anscombe writes for Richardson’s Holiday Parks, a UK-based holiday park company that excels at providing brilliant holidays for families.