Infidelity has been a serious threat to the beauty of marriage. People hold the erroneous belief that it has come to stay. The general attitude is that ‘everybody is doing it.’ This issue cuts across race, colour, status and country. It has been a serious concern to me and I believe there is urgent need for intervention to salvage the society.
Infidelity is not in consonance with marital vow.
Couple gets married, promising to be faithful to each other, only to discard the promise sooner than later. It doesn’t matter whether it is a one-night stand or a long-term affair, the results are the same—your spouse’s action has led to fear, doubt, distrust, betrayal and anger. To the wounded, it is a source of emotional instability.
What makes the difference is how you handle these emotional feelings. It is quite understandable that catching your partner engaging in infidelity red-handed can be really traumatic. But for the sake of your marriage and the future of the children of the relationship, you can handle it in a matured manner to reduce its devastating effects.
No matter how terrible the situation is, it is necessary to point out that nothing is new under heaven. You need to brace up.
An average African would fight back tears in the face of the unpalatable experience. I would love advise that you allow the tears to flow unhindered.
Crying could be a healthy response, because naturally, your body would find it difficult to endure such an unsavoury development.
However, never allow the situation to degenerate to a ‘poor me’ attitude. That will not do you any good. Yes, due to cultural and ego factors, men often try to hide their feelings. But for the sake of your health, a man can cry if need be.
Then, go ahead and express your feelings to your spouse. Tell him or her how you feel. This is where positive communication is needful. Verbally expressing your feelings is also a healthy way to process anger—as long as you use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. When you say, “You betrayed me” or “You took advantage of me,” or “You don’t love me,” you will only generate negative reactions. And negative reactions don’t lead to positive outcomes.
I often jokingly tell couples that instead of making an issue over a spilled milk, why don’t you take hold of the hand of that ‘caught in adultery’ partner, lead him or her home to have a nice time together and move on with life. Marriage is such a sweet and good thing to enjoy instead of turning oneself to a psychiatric patient over inconsequential matters.
Statements such as, “I feel betrayed” or “I feel hurt,” or “I feel you don’t love me,” simply reveal your emotion. They’re honest statements that communicate the depth of your pains. But please, don’t attack his or her personality as he or she could become defensive and put you at the receiving edge. Instead of bringing about positive changes in the marital union, the relationship would end up in chaos.
Despite the fact that your emotion or ego must have been battered, learn to control your behaviour. Negative responses can complicate the problem.
If you do not tame your reaction, such a partner can heap the blame on you to exculpate himself or herself because your behaviour has demonstrated that you do not self control. This is a common trend in women. A lot of women have lost their homes, marriages, families and lives as a result of negative reactions.
Don’t retaliate. Revenge is a common negative response. Nobody has the exclusive preserve of vengeance. Vengeful tactics include engaging in immorality to show your unfaithful spouse what it feels like to be betrayed, or going to his or her workplace or the house of the other adulterer to cause a scene and so on. This will only aggravate one’s stupidity. Any effort at revenge is bound to fail. Returning wrong for wrong simply makes the other person feel less guilty and stimulates him or her to return fire for fire. Before you take such action, think about the many years of your investment into the marriage and the effects of your uncultured behaviour on your children’s destiny. Ask yourself, “What do I stand to gain?” or “What are the likely effects of this kind of behaviour on my relationship later, if I proceed to revenge brutally?
Instead, why don’t you seek the counsel of knowledgeable individuals? After the initial wave of shock, hurt, and anger, the most productive step you can take is to seek the wisdom of a marriage counselor or your spiritual leader. If your spouse isn’t willing to go, then go alone. You’re more likely to make wise decisions if you get the help of someone who isn’t emotionally involved in the situation. Remember, the decision you take in anger or while under emotional stupor may lead to a major crisis.
Note that the purpose of counseling isn’t simply to keep you and your spouse under the same roof or make you to believe that it never happened. The essence of counseling is to make it possible for one to forget the past inadequacies of others, as to be able to establish a new pattern of relating to each other for a purposeful life-long relationship.
Don’t ever think that your marriage can never be restored. Your marriage can, indeed, be redeemed. While all sins can be forgiven, it is necessary to point out that the way to true reconciliation is genuine repentance. Your spouse must be willing to sever all contacts with the intruder and devote his or her efforts to rebuilding your marriage.
Help the other party to rebuild trust; reconciliation involves both of you taking honest look at what gave rise to the sexual unfaithfulness in question. The objective isn’t to trade blames, but to look at the dynamics of your marriage and discover what you and your mate need to change. It takes two people to make a mistake in marriage.
Trust won’t return overnight. Trust grows as your spouse now chooses to be trustworthy. If he or she sincerely wants to rebuild trust, the life of such a partner can be made an open book, because openness and commitment help trust-building.
Reconciliation after sexual infidelity is neither easy nor quick. But many will agree with a couple who told me, “Though it was painful, and healing took time, God refined our hearts. Nowadays, every time we go to our children’s school to pick them after school hours, we look at each other and smile, thanking God we didn’t give up on our marriage.”
Sincerely, there is hope for your marriage if we are ready to come together as one and learn to forgive past wrongs, no matter how painful.