OK, so you discovered the marital infidelity. What do you do? Do you rage, threaten, plead and beg? Do you try to be nice and accommodating with the hope this will help him/her come to his/her senses? Or do you do something else? These are hugely important questions that impact the course of your healing and your capacity to change the flow of the affair, if indeed, it can be changed. Your goal is to have a sound strategy that will give you most quickly what you really want. You want no knee-jerk reaction that will dig your hole deeper, do you? And, believe me, the answers to these questions are not clear cut. They are complex. Let's talk about waiting.
I had a coaching call with Sue (part of my audio tape series) in which Sue described beautifully the three stages of waiting as you cope with marital infidelity. The first waiting is usually for your spouse to change. You are hoping either that you will wake up and find that this was nothing more than a bad nightmare (part of the shock of discovery) or that s/he will see the error of his/her ways and become sane once again. Typically, you focus on your cheating partner and/or the other person. That's all you think about.
That's all you feel. It consumes you! Now let's be realistic here. If you have a marriage where you are invested, emotionally, financially, etc. it will be next to impossible to avoid this agony. Ok, yes, you will go a little bonkers; maybe a lot. You engage in most of the "Killer Mistakes that prolong the affair and your misery" I outline in my e-course.
Your minutes are marked by confusion and awful pain. And then you move to the second phase of waiting: waiting for you to be comfortable enough with you and the situation to do exactly what you need to say and do that will have the greatest benefit for you and the relationship. You get smart. It begins when you learn that there are 7 kinds of infidelity. It begins when you discover what it was that drove your spouse to make such a horrible decision. It begins when you discover that his/her personal characteristics match exactly the kind of affair s/he is having.
It begins when you realize that it was HIS/HER decision and had very little to do with you. It begins when you discover that you are not alone: a world of people share your pain and experience of coping with infidelity and have successfully designed new lives and relationships better than they had before. It begins when you realize the huge reservoir of your personal power you want to unleash.
As you intentionally charge neutral you find those people important in your life attending to what you say, what you value and what you will not tolerate. And then you enter the third phase of waiting: waiting for the infidelity process to work itself to completion. From what you've learned about the kinds of infidelity, with great forethought and preparation, you begin to intervene. You are aware of the specific kind of affair facing you and now you know the best strategy to employ for that kind of affair.
You act and speak with force. S/he finally "gets" what you are saying and you pleasantly discover s/he is responding more positively. Knowing the kind of affair, enables you to set a time line. You begin to understand and accept the time frame for the process.
You are on the way. You continue to learn. You evaluate and construct what you say and what you do to have the most profound impact.
You begin enjoying yourself. You are no longer concerned about waiting. You joyfully discover that your life seems easier, lighter and are surprised by how good you find it. You can stand back and marvel at your journey, and yes, even give thanks for where you have been. Now, I want you to know that what I've written above is not a pipe dream.
I work with people regularly who move through these stages of waiting. And, the quicker they start, the faster they move.
Dr. Robert Huizenga, CSW, LMFT, The Infidelity Coach, is an author, and Marriage and Family Therapist. For the past two decades he has served hundreds of couples, specifically in the area of marital infidelity. He is author of "Break Free From The Affair." Information on Dr. Huizenga's book and other services is available on his web sites.