Infidelity is as old as marriage itself. Men and women have been commanded not to covet, which includes the sin of infidelity. “In the vernacular, the evil is described as ‘cheating.’ And cheating it is, for it robs virtue, it robs loyalty, it robs sacred promises, it robs self-respect, it robs truth…” But in recent times, the issue of infidelity has become very popular and at times it is even romanticized. But who would want it to happen to them? Nobody! The question is then, what if it happens to you? A lot of people struggle with the effects of being betrayed and emotionally shattered. But there is a process to help deal with and overcome the aftermath of infidelity.
Step 1. Take a Deep Breath
I know this one seems so simple that you might question its significance. However, when you hear such devastating news, you need to first stabilize your heartbeat, regain composure and remind yourself that this is reality. Breathing consciously gives you the pause you need to be able to digest what has just happened. Let yourself come to terms with what you have just learned and don’t forget to take those needed deep breaths.
Step 2. Talk to Someone You Trust
At this point, a wild storm of emotions rages inside of you. You want to shout, bawl, and shout again. That is normal. But it is not healthy to keep these feelings all to yourself. Those emotions brewing up inside of you need to be expressed. Find someone you can talk to. Someone you know you can pour all your thoughts and feelings out to and not be judged. Of course, prayer is such a great help but you also need to talk to someone you can interact with in times of emotional distress. We all need someone we can open up to, someone who can help us deal with such a heart-wrenching trial. It may be a family member, a friend you trust, your Bishop, or a professional counselor.
Step 3. Talk to Your Spouse in Front of that Someone You Trust
Okay. This may sound weird. I know. Why not talk directly to your spouse, right? Just the two of you. Why involve someone else? Well, not everyone has the same level of maturity when it comes to things like this. We all differ in our reactions and in our acceptance. And confronting a cheating spouse is never easy. You may not be ready on your own to handle the information you just discovered, let alone open up about your shattered feelings with your spouse. If possible, call on someone who can help mediate the discussion. There is no script, unfortunately. But you can make one if you like. You just have to get through it, and deal with the specifics as they arise. At least you will have someone who can regulate the heat if needed.
Step 4. Decide with Your Spouse How to Move Forward
Remember, complete forgiveness is possible with time and effort, and marriage is important, but that doesn’t mean you are forced to stay in a toxic relationship. It is not an easy or quick process to forgive an offending spouse, but it is possible, if both spouses are willing to work together to mend what has been broken. And no matter how hard it is to talk to your spouse about life after adultery, you must do it. You have built a life together. It may be a few months or decades. Deciding what you will do from here, will require both of your thoughts and perspectives. He or she may not want to talk about it but it is crucial that you tell your spouse what you think and feel, and what you believe would be the best thing to do next.
Betrayal is very painful. When you were chosen by your spouse to be “the One”, you became their confidant and their partner. So when your spouse cheats on you, you begin to question yourself. “Am I still lovable? What is wrong with me?” This is why infidelity causes such deep pain. But healing is possible. You can rise above the sorrow and live life with hope. You will need to take more than just these 4 steps to put your life in order again but it will happen. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our small efforts will be enough. You will need not question whether you deserve love or not for He has given His life for you. That is reason enough that you do.
To those who have betrayed their spouses through their infidelity, you can take the path that leads to forgiveness and healing: