Sometimes when people engage in infidelity they tell themselves that their marriage was so bad their spouse drove them to it. But that is never true. There’s always a choice, no matter how bad a marriage is, and infidelity is never the right one. It has a shattering, destructive effect on a long-term love relationship, even when it is kept secret. When the betrayed spouse discovers the infidelity they’re devastated. And whether discovered or not, an infidelity seriously damages the betraying partner’s integrity and self-respect.
Does the person who had the affair have to “come clean” to save the relationship? The answer usually is “Yes.” As in all other aspects of serious relationships, openness, honesty, and a lack of deceit are vital for long-term intimacy and relationship success.
There are three different scenarios to consider here when questioning whether to reveal an infidelity. The first and most problematic is when there is an ongoing or recent infidelity that the betrayed partner does not know about. The only way for the relationship to heal, to become stronger so that infidelity will not reoccur, is for the betraying partner to reveal it. This is the only way the couple can overcome the individual and relationship dysfunction that led to the infidelity. If the betrayal was long-term in duration and/or included feelings of love, it’s even more important to reveal it.
The second scenario is when the betrayed partner knows about or just suspects the infidelity. Again, it is essential that the betraying partner be as open as possible. Answering the betrayed partner’s questions completely is the only way to work through it and get beyond the hurt to recommit to the relationship and rebuild trust. Not doing so when the betrayed spouse asks is another, sometimes even more damaging betrayal than the infidelity itself.
An infidelity that occurred in the distant past but has remained secret defines the third revelation scenario. If the marriage (or non-marital Long-Term Love Relationship) has grown during the intervening years so that both partners are now happy together, there may be no good reason to reveal the infidelity. Revealing the infidelity in order to assuage the guilt of the betraying partner is not a good enough reason to put their partner through that pain. If the betrayed partner becomes suspicious or asks about an infidelity, then honest revelation is wise. Another reason to reveal the infidelity is when the relationship is floundering and the partners are unhappy. In this case, the past infidelity may be just the shock needed to initiate the necessary work to rebuild the relationship.
Is it possible for a couple to truly “get over” an infidelity? Absolutely yes, couples can and do overcome infidelity so that it no longer has a significant negative impact on their relationship. And they can use it to spur them to work on their relationship and make it stronger and more intimate than it ever was.
The chances that a once-unfaithful partner will cheat again are very good unless he or she takes responsibility for it as a terrible mistake and both partners work on their part in the problems in their relationship that created fertile ground for an infidelity to occur. If both partners do this work, which is usually most effectively accomplished in good couples therapy, it is likely that the unfaithful partner will never cheat again. They will no longer be willing to compromise either their integrity or their relationship. And because the relationship will be so strong and both partners will feel so loved, neither would consider straying nor be vulnerable to it happening.
Steven D. Solomon, Ph.D. and Lorie J. Teagno, Ph.D. are clinical psychologists in private practice in La Jolla, California, specializing in couples therapy. They are the Co-Directors of The Relationship Institute http://www.therelationshipinstitute.org and the co-authors of the mass market book, Intimacy after Infidelity: How to Rebuild & Affair-Proof Your Marriage (2006).
Author: Lorie Teagno
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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