The initial days and months after learning that your partner has been cheating can be the worst. Reeling from the shock and devastation can be overwhelming. What can compound the stress of this time is if you continue to doubt that you’ve been told all there is to know. How can you overcome such an obstacle? What if you are correct and there is more to know? What is the best course of action to take in this situation?
A woman who is a client of mine would get anxious when her doubts were at there worst. As a way to manage the anxiety, she would search for information to validate her feelings since she felt her husband wasn’t telling her all there was to know. Each time she’d look for information, she proved she was right. This pattern went on for a long time until the outcome started to impact her well-being. She began to realize that she could, instead of looking for more information, learn to sit with her feelings, not act on them, and in this way she slowly had the courage to face the truth that he wasn’t going to change and the only person she could change was herself. That began a journey toward self-discovery that included limiting contact with her husband, setting boundaries with herself about asking about his affair partners, and ultimately disengaging from the relationship. The clarity and inner resolve she came to know about herself allowed her to become free of the chaos of the addiction.
Another man who had similar suspicions with his partner, decided that he wasn’t being told all there was to know so he talked to a close friend, went to his therapist and created a list of what he needed to see happen in order for the relationship to continue in its current form. He found proof that she was still seeing her ex-lover by intercepting text messages. He told her that she either get into treatment specific for addiction or he was going to ask her to move out of the bedroom. If she refused to get honest about her behaviors, then his plan was to let her know that he would tell their adult children since he was unable to continue to hold secrets that were only serving to protect her from the truth. When she saw that he would be willing to tell their children, she was understandably upset, but then agreed to work with a therapist that would more directly address the addictive relationships she’d engaged in throughout the marriage. What both of these different situations highlight is that at some point the onus of change has to reside with you. If you find yourself in a similar situation of having been duped and betrayed and continue to doubt that you know all there is to know, recognize that you are probably right and ask yourself “what am I willing to do next for me?”