Anyone who’s been in a relationship, much less married for a long time has done it. We’ve all looked at another man or woman and thought about cheating. Even if it was just a fleeting notion that you’d never act on because you are genuinely happy with your mate, it’s happened. We’re human beings and it’s typically natural and harmless.
While some couples joke about having a “hall pass list,” others may find themselves accidentally falling into an adulterous affair, or intentionally starting one because they’re missing something at home. The good news is that not every marriage is doomed and headed for divorce if you commit adultery. The bad news is that an affair – whether it’s a one-night slip up or an emotional affair – can take much longer to repair, so you need to be prepared to work through it.
Often times advice is given to the person who has been betrayed, not the person who actually engaged in the infidelity. Not every person who cheats is out to intentionally hurt their spouse or wants out of their marriage. If you are one of them and you aren’t sure what to do, heed this advice:
- Refrain. Stop seeing and communicating with the person you became romantically involved with. This also means blocking them on social media and deleting their number from your phone. The distance will give you some perspective and de-escalate the feelings that led you there in the first place.
- Reflect. It’s time for some introspection to understand why you wandered outside of your marriage. What do you feel that you’re missing to be content? What did the other person provide that you weren’t getting from your spouse? Do you have unrealistic expectations of your spouse?
- Discuss. Have the tough conversation with your spouse. If you don’t, your marriage can begin to deteriorate right in front of you over time. Keeping the affair hidden only makes it easier to engage in further infidelity because the feelings that caused you to seek someone outside of your relationship are still unresolved. If you get caught rather than honestly admitting to your mistake, it can only make for deeper trust issues. Do not focus on yourself and blame your spouse for what happened – just own it. Be prepared for the natural flood of emotions from your spouse, and answer questions. Just be careful about how much detail you share if you want to get past this and fix your marriage.
- Seek help. Sometimes a neutral third party can help you both work through problems individually and together that led to cheating in a non-judgmental manner that will cut through the anger directed toward one another so that you are able to hear each other’s needs.
- Take time. While you cheated, you both may feel horrible about it. No one enjoys going through tough emotional challenges, especially the person who cheated. The worst thing that you can do is try to rush your spouse to get over it. It can make him or her feel as though you don’t care about his or her feelings and that you are minimizing your behavior. As part of the healing process, your spouse may also need to lean on friends or family, which means you have to anticipate some feelings of resentment coming from people other than your husband or wife, and you have to find a healthy way to manage that. You understandably want to keep the affair under wraps, but it isn’t about you. It’s about allowing your spouse to cope in his or her own way.
Legal options before getting a divorce
If you and your spouse are still struggling to find your way, there are a few steps you can take. One option is for spouses to enter into a post marital agreement discussing certain rights and responsibilities as you reengage the marriage. Another step you can take is a legal separation. You would live “separate and apart,” divide your assets and create a parenting plan. You would still remain legally married, but your lives would be completely separated. Make sure to speak with an attorney about these options, to see if they are right for you.
If you believe your marriage is ending, you need to understand your rights and what you may be entitled to in a divorce. Our client-focused attorneys are skilled at handling a vast array of marital complications leading to divorce. To schedule a consultation with an attorney from Epperson Law Group, PLLC call 704-321-0031 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page. We proudly serve clients in Charlotte, Boone, Weddington, and across the state.