5 Steps to Manage After Infidelity
So here you are completely shocked, you have no words and you suddenly are numb. The spouse you once thought you knew inside and out has revealed to you a side you never fathomed existed. They shared with you the reality of their infidelity. The emotions you feel, if you are able to feel any, are so overwhelming you are unsure of what to do next.
This experience is very common when you find yourself in a crisis situation, and I assure you when someone finds out their partner has been unfaithful it most certainly is categorized as a crisis situation. The last blog we spoke of surprising feelings, if you missed it you can read it here.
Today I want to talk about what to do after you find out about the infidelity. I want to give you tangible steps to take to manage the crisis situation. I've also included a crisis management inventory worksheet. There are five steps and they are as follows:
This is where you assess the immediate needs of the situation. Just as in the hospital, you need to asses what is most important to tend to with your life. Look at it as a nice vs. necessary. You need to eat, sleep, bathe, take care of your kids, etc. because you still need to take care of your responsibilities. Something nice would be helping a friend, baking cookies, or organizing your closet. Those are nice to do but not necessary and can add stress to this difficult time. Put yourself first. It's exhausting to have all of the thoughts that come with learning of an affair. Think about the things you need to do to get through the day.
Think of a toxic spill, when it spills you quickly try to contain it because you don't want to do any more damage. The same is with this crisis situation, you want to contain it until you figure out what happens next. The way you do this is to think of whom you are confiding in and how much you want to tell people. Use discernment with whom you seek comfort in.
When you find out about the infidelity, you lose your sense of security and it makes you feel out of control. In order to feel secure, you need a certain level of predictability, reliability, and trust. You need to understand that you don’t nor did you ever have control over your spouse. Do not try to gain a sense of control by trying to change what has happened or take responsibility for it. Rather, think about you and take control over what happens next and take responsibility for solutions.
You need healthy strategies and tools in order to work through this crisis. There's a right way and a wrong way to cope. Solve vs obsess. Powerless vs helpless. Seek help vs seeking sympathy. Correct vs punish. There is a right way to cope, so learn how to seek proper help if you feel that would be best. This process does take time so do not pressure yourself.
Unfortunately, things are different now and there's no going back, which means you have to adjust to this new piece of information and reality. You either can adjust or resist. In order to adjust, forgiveness is the key. Even if you don't plan to reconcile the marriage, it's healthiest for you to move forward with forgiveness, especially if there are children involved.
Those are the five steps to manage this crisis situation of infidelity. I strongly encourage you to seek help to facilitate your movement through this time in your life. This is not a situation best left to be done alone. You are struggling and experiencing a great deal of emotions, it is best to get the support you need to help you manage the best way you can. To take the first step in helping you understand where you might rate in regards to these five steps, click here to take a brief inventory.