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Friday, July 22, 2011

Relationship Killers:Is Infidelity STILL A Lover's Kryptonite??

This pic is STILL funny to me!
Caveat: There are women out there who can forgive and forget. I'm not sure I am one of them. In my book, once a cheater ALWAYS a cheater. My belief that everyone deserves a second chance is in direct contradiction to this. *Mental note* Change that to ALMOST everyone deserves a second chance. I questioned the things I have written in my proverbial book after watching a few episodes of Oprah's new Show on OWN called Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal. The show features stories of couples that have dealt with infidelity in their relationship. Peep a clip below.

I appreciate that the show features stories of men and women that have had affairs so the perspectives are not one sided. It might help you to know that the woman in the above video did not simply have a one night stand. Her affair lasted 2 years during which time she met her friend Jim several times per week. She describes feeling "excited, loved and pursued." She confessed lying had become second nature for her. She was greedy. She believed she could have her cake (her husband) and eat it too (her new beau).

I remembered reading stories about Tiger and his wife attempting to work things out. I thought about all the ish they went through and now they are reportedly trying to work things out. I said to myself "couldn't have been me." After watching a few stories on Infidelity, many of which ended with the couples finding a way to work things out, I questioned my own feelings about infidelity. Can a relationship truly move on after an affair? Can you forgive and forget? Can you ever learn to really trust the person with your heart again after they cheated once? Fool me once, right? I did a little research and found sites and forums like surviveinfidelity.com, a resource for people who have or think they may have a cheating spouse. It explores reasons why people cheat and there are forums to help people move past the situation. Who knew?

Infidelity is hard to get over because cheating on your spouse is a systematic process. You can try to convince me that its not but your attempts will be futile. Soooo don't waste your breath or your keystrokes. It doesn't just happen the way people claim it does. Even if you have 1 night stand, you still go through the same process-albeit a bit quicker. When you find yourself having inappropriate interactions with another, YOU make that decision to keep going. You know its wrong but you do it anyway. You see the potential for it to cross the line but you decide to allow it to continue. Let's back up. Infidelity is not always physical. There are emotional and spiritual connects that amount to cheating as well. While you're with the other person, you forget about the pain you will cause your spouse when he/she finds out. This is when it becomes dangerous. You forget about the commitment you made to be monogamous. You forget about your love for them. You decide to enjoy a sidepiece with your main course. It doesn't stop with the physical or emotional connection, your affair lasts as long as you keep it a secret from your spouse. Secrets can be the death-knell of a relationship. That one night stand you had 6 months ago? Its still going on because you continue to interact with your spouse and live a lie. The lie lives on and so does the affair. You can try lying to yourself about it, but you don't have to lie to me. Lying to kick it? Thats soo not 2011!

Cheating is one of those things that leads to other offenses. When you cheat you become disloyal, disrespectful, a liar, a deceiver, and an all around selfish muddasucka. No apology can take back what you did. No gift can repair the pain you caused. In most cases, the material gifts serve as a constant reminder that you f*cked up. Don't get confused though, material gifts are ALWAYS welcomed.

It turns out there are counselors, books, survivors and relationship experts who say couples can move past infidelity. Some claim if the couple can get past the affair, they can even find themselves in a better place than they were in before. They experience a connection on deeper levels and yada yada. Repairing the trust after a revealed infidelity is possible. If you were caught before you revealed your indiscretions, you're in deep doo-doo. There is a monumental difference between saying "I'm sorry" when you confess and saying "I'm sorry" when you get caught. Your spouse might deem your apology sincere in the former situation while in the latter situation they will think you left off three words "I got caught." There might not be any hope for you, but it won't hurt to try.

So the affair is out in the open and the two of you decide to embark on a reNEWed path. You (as the cheater) realize how much your spouse meant to you and question whether the relationship can survive. You feel guilty because you created a situation that broke your bond.  You know you done f*cked up but you don't want everything to stay f*cked up, you want to fix it. Thats a good start. Alright toolmen and toolwomen, I'll do my best to help you rectify the error of your ways. Here are 5 ways to move on in your relationship after an affair.

1. Be OPEN. When your spouse wants to hear everything, tell them. Get a full battery of STI tests and share your results. Don't hold anything back. If you're going to confess, CONFESS wholeheartedly. Depending on your spouse, he/she may be able to handle seeing emails and text messages. Now is not the time for you to hold back. You don't get to decide what will help them move on. If you want to give them the opportunity to make an informed decision, don't withhold information. Your goal is to help them see you as the person they fell in love with, not the person who stomped on their heart. Share what made you cheat and how you learned from it. It helps to throw in compassionate statements about how sorry you are. It is even better if you follow those statements with actions.If you really respect the person, lay everything out and be transparent. Everything could come crashing down if it is revealed months later that you decided to leave out certain details.

2. Recognize you are at a disadvantage. Once you cross the line and commit infidelity, you are NOT the victim. You are the perpetrator. Don't even try to turn the tables and play the victim. Regardless of how your spouse may have contributed to your willingness to cheat, in the initial weeks of aftermath you do not have the right to accuse them of anything. So what if they made you feel lonely because they worked long hours at work? Who gives a sh*t? You didn't tell them about how it made you feel. If we're going to be honest with ourselves here, what they did is still not an excuse for your actions. If you are having problems in your relationship the only person you should discuss those problems with is your partner. Peter the office pretty boy does not need to know how much your husband works since he made partner. Sheila the slutty secretary should never hear about how your wife doesn't give awesome BJs. While they may pretend to respect your commitment to your spouse, the commitment is not theirs to respect-it is YOURS. If Peter and Sheila are also single, they are opportunists. They hear your relationship problems and see opportunity. They are vultures circling above waiting for the perfect moment. Of course we would like to think that people respect commitments but they don't. It is up to you to set the tone. It isn't Sheila's fault she knows about the birthmark on your gonads. It isn't Paul's fault he saw first-hand that you don't have any nipples. Its YOUR fault.

3. Surprise your spouse. Think of things you can do to to surprise him/her. Do something they aren't used to you doing. Listen when they want to talk about their day. Prepare a homemade meal. If you were a person who was emotionally unavailable, seek assistance with learning ways to open up about your feelings. Become more interested in your spouse. Have you noticed any changes? Compliment them. Shift your gears and put forth a genuine effort. Be mindful of your actions and how your spouse responds to them. Do something that makes them say "oh WOW! I didn't see that coming." If you can do this, it will help eliminate questions your spouse may have about whether you are genuinely making a change.

4. Give yourself time. Rebuilding trust will take time and patience. Don't expect your relationship to be the same as it was before. Your relationship is different now. It will NEVER be the same relationship again. Share your new direction and purpose with your spouse and keep them on the journey with you.  It will eventually take less effort to make it work. You will be scrutinized but if you are determined to make it work, it will not be as difficult. The negative times that are characterized by helplessness will become few and far between. Your spouse will begin to trust you again. Don't be discouraged if it does not happen within a few weeks or months. You're the one who brought this upon yourself so don't complain when your spouse doesn't come around as fast as you expected them to. Their healing process is on their time, not yours. You will have to be consistent. Any sudden changes could warrant suspicions and can undo all of your hard work.

5. Take Responsibility for your actions. Take steps towards your emotional growth and healing. Negotiate with your spouse to meet their needs and share your needs. Consider reaching out to a trained counselor or reading self-help books that focus on spiritual and emotional healing. At every stage of the process, accept that as the person who turned your two-some into a three-some (and NOT the fun kind) you must hold yourself accountable.

To the people who have never been cheated on or who have a gut feeling it may be happening to them, DON'T WAIT, INVESTIGATE! Ask questions and keep your eyes open. Whats done in the dark...

Now we can all get back to playing angry birds.

Peep the outro

4 comments:

Honey Badger said...

ONCE A CHEATER always a cheater! How can you ever really trust them again? Its only a matter of time before they cheat again. Why give a cheater another chance to break your heart when you can meet someone else with a clean slate?

Rickeysha G said...

@Honey Badger

Well honey badger I'm not sure. I was appalled that infidelity is so common and that may be why so many people try to work through it. I imagine you would give the person another chance because you don't want to believe your spouse would see what they put you thru the first time and do it to you again.

Honey Badger said...

@Rickeysha G

You said 8/10 people cheat right? Well I'll save myself for the 2/10 that choose to stay faithful. Whats stopping someone from cheating again? NOTHING because you let them get away with it the first time.

Rickeysha G said...

@Honey Badger

Whatever happened to forgiveness? People make mistakes. Granted, there are LEVELS of mistakes. I think I could forgive a 1 night stand much much easier than I could forgive someone who downright had another relationship for 2 years. Forget having their cake and eating it too, those people opted for the entire dessert menu.

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