Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go? By: Christy Vasquez

A How to Guide to Surviving Infidelity:
This is easily one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome in a relationship. We have all had to deal with this painful reality in some form or another at one point in our lives. It may seem that all hope is lost when your partner is unfaithful, but this is simply not true. I have cheated and more recently been cheated on and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. This guide offers a few steps
and strategies to help heal and mend a relationship torn apart by infidelity.
As I said earlier, I have been on both sides of the spectrum. Married for ten years now, my husband and I don't live together. He works in construction and travels with his job. I see him two weekends a month. This has caused major problems in our lives as you can imagine. Everyone has their own set of issues and circumstances that serve as precursors to this type of relationship strife. I had an affair many years ago and my husband forgave me, but I have had to suffer the consequences of my actions ever since. Trust is the absolute hardest thing to get back. He still has suspicion in his voice every time something out of the ordinary is going on here at home. A few months ago I found out my husband had an indiscretion of his own. This is the first time I have ever had to deal with anything like this. I was always the perpetrator and now I'm the perpetrated. At first I wanted a divorce. The pain was so intense I couldn't see any way to move on. In my mind, our marriage was over.
As time passed I did a lot of hardcore soul searching. I sifted and sorted through the seemingly endless nuggets of advice I got from my friends. Some useful, some not so much. I even had one of my dearest friends advise me to stay with my husband, spend his paycheck, and party like a rockstar every weekend with whomever I wanted. Of course I didn't see how that plan was going to make my life any better or easier. Most of my friends helped me realize that this doesn't have to be a death sentence for my life with Hubb (my pet name for my husband). I drew strength from my friends and family that supported me no matter which way I chose to deal with this. I looked back on my own experience as a cheater with a whole new insight. I learned how to empathize with my husband for what I had done to him instead of sympathize. Here are a few simple steps to help you determine if your relationship is worth saving and how to go about coming back from such a dark place.

1. Acknowledgment
This is the first and definitely most important step to healing. If your partner is stone cold busted and refuses to admit anything, you're in trouble. I'm not saying that a full detailed confession is necessary, (I'll get to that in a minute) but the wrongdoer has to come clean about what has happened and that they are culpable for it. You can't get anywhere if you're still battling back and forth over if it even took place.

2. Is this a pattern?
Another factor you need to consider is whether or not it was a one time thing or if this has been occurring often or for an extended period of time. It is still possible to recover from recurring infidelity or a full blown long term affair, but the road is a lot longer and the work much more arduous. All of this depends on the people involved. If both people are fully committed and focused on healing and making the situation better, you can still repair the damage.

3. The Devil's in the Details
This one is a hard one, but if you can do it peace of mind comes a lot quicker. The offender needs not reveal every tiny minute detail of everything that transpired. It is immensely distressing to the person that was cheated on to wonder about the who, what, when, where, and why but these things are better not known. There are relatively few yet extremely important facts that have to be
divulged. Who.. This is only important if the person is known to both people, such as a friend or family member. It is not necessary to offer that she was twenty, tall with long brown hair, or anything of the like. What ( happened).. This is probably the most potentially damaging information. What happened is completely irrelevant if you are trying to move into a place of peace with your partner. When.. A general idea of how long ago it occurred and duration play a huge role in determining if your relationship is salvageable. Where.. Irrelevant in the same way as what. These types of details only cause pain for the offended partner. Why.. Necessary to know, but at times hard to figure out, the reason why this all happened is the first step itself to healing together.
4. The Open Book
Getting through this can feel wrong, but it works wonders to rebuild the trust that was lost. The wrongdoer must become an open book. If the cell phone dies and you can't find a charger, call from a friend's phone to let your partner know what's going on. It's invasive, and it can make one feel like a child. This will, however, give the wounded partner a sense of comfort because that basic comfort is lost when one person goes outside the relationship. They need to know where you are and when you will be back. No secrets, all passwords to voicemail and emails must be shared. Over time the pressure will ease up as trust is regained. The downfall to this is that there is no time limit. The "open book" phase lasts until trust earned back. My husband stayed suspicious of me until about a year ago. My cheating occurred in 2001. It's a very long process, but the end result is a happier and healthier relationship.

These basic steps have helped me immensely trudge the pain and misery cheating has caused in my life. My husband and I have actively discussed all of these steps and make conscious decisions to take care of each other through this painful time in our lives. It doesn't happen over night, and you will question yourself and your decisions every step of the way, but if you work hard and commit yourself completely to the healing process, a relationship can survive infidelity.

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