Surviving Infidelity

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It’s common that months or sometimes years are invested into planning and perfecting a wedding ceremony. The wedding gown has to be exquisite and the tux complimentary to the groom’s stature. Flower arrangements must be picturesque, the invitations elegant and the reception hall filled with beautiful decor. This creates a scene for one of the most exciting moments in a person’s life.

It’s such a wonderful experience when a man and woman profess their love for one another. Family and friends gather to celebrate this beautiful union and are overwhelmed with joy as the bride and groom say “I do”. The love these two have for each other is infectious to all in attendance and no other event measures up to this special day. As the bride and groom share their first dance as man and wife, spectators look upon them with adoration, knowing that the vows they’ve made will be honored for the rest of their lives.

As the married couple begin their journey together they have so many plans, goals and dreams that they want fulfilled; a beautiful home, a nice car, financial freedom and children. Goals are obtained and dreams come true but after time marriages begin to have problems. Sometimes work takes precedent over a family meal, children’s needs come before an evening out together and the bank account that was once full is now empty. Life happens, problems arise and people change as time goes on.

After being married for a while couples that only saw the good in their spouses now see and often point out their partner’s flaws and short comings. As the heat of an argument reaches record temperatures, fingers are pointed, words are said that pierce the heart and spending time away from each other is a welcomed event; what was once love is now hatred. Their hearts become cold, bitter and resentful and for some couples depression seeps in and isolation soon follows. The feelings of hopelessness and anger manifest themselves in many ways but infidelity is the most common; not only does it sever marriages, it tears families apart.

 Nearly 1 in 4 married men and more than 1 in 10 married women have had extramarital affairs. Although the outcome produces the same result, a woman’s experience is quite different than a man’s. When marriages are strained, the couple tends to withdraw from each other and their physical as well as emotional needs are no longer met. They aren’t able to communicate or express themselves freely through intimacy which causes them to be distant and unavailable to each other. Because the woman no longer has the emotional bond with her husband, she has more of an emotional affair in hopes that it would fill the void in her heart. As for the man, he lacks both the physical and the emotional intimacy with his wife.  Like women, men want to feel desired. They want to be physically close and have a special connection with their wives. Without this they tend to feel unloved and uncared for. No matter the reasons for the betrayal it doesn’t justify infidelity in a marriage.

After an affair is uncovered the couple goes through an emotional rollercoaster ride. The one that was betrayed feels anger and rage; sometime blame themselves and often sink into a deep depression. They cannot understand what it was that warranted this type of disloyalty. They question themselves and wonder if they caused their spouse to stray. Images enter their minds that they want so desperately to erase. They wonder what the other person looks like and if they measure up. Many make plans to file for divorce and sometimes seek revenge. In contrast the person that committed the act also goes through emotions that cannot be escaped. Denial, blaming others and making excuses for their behavior is common after an affair is exposed. Although they know that they committed the ultimate betrayal they think if they can point out their spouse’s shortcomings it will justify theirs. When this proves to be unsuccessful, self loathing and guilt become part of their emotional battle along with the fear of what may happen as a result of their unfaithfulness. The marriage has been altered and so have their feelings for one another. The idea of forgiveness is something that cannot be comprehended at this point in their lives and forgetting the event is practically impossible. The dreams that they had are now shattered and the union that was already in jeopardy has reached an all time low.

Although many couples divorce there are also those that stay together. They go through stages of heartache and healing while utilizing resources that can help them forgive and get past the tragedy that changed their lives. They attend marriage counseling, seek support from their church and surround themselves with friends that may have gone through the experience themselves. Many couples set future goals and have discussions on what they need from each other. They spend time together without interruptions and put their marriage first. Their main priority becomes reestablishing trust and mending the brokenness in their lives.

After an affair, the investment into a marriage should be just as elaborate as it was while preparing for the wedding ceremony. Although the guests have long departed and the wedding attire has been packed away, the same excitement and fulfillment can come into a marriage that has been healed. The love that once filled their hearts can flourish again. They can learn from their mistakes, grow through the pain and continue their journey together with love and forgiveness.

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