Dealing with the aftermath of infidelity in marriage

What you need to know:

  • If the man finds it difficult to separate from the other woman and maintains communication and other engagements with her then the next course of action should be taken.

Infidelity is much more common than I ever imagined. Many couples’ private lives are quite different from what you see in public. Most married people feign happiness to please the world while seriously hurting in private. These are the thoughts that crossed my mind as I listened to Doris and her husband James narrating their ordeal to me at the sexology clinic.

“So I have finally decided to leave him to his women,” Doris lamented. “This is the last I would have expected of a man of God. He is fake!” James sat quietly, avoiding eye contact with Doris or me. He was obviously ashamed.

James was a pastor at an evangelical church, Doris was a teacher. They had been married 12 years and had three children. One evening Doris decided to pass through the church without alerting James. She knew James would be working late and decided to go and keep him company. But she found him having sex with a woman whom he was purportedly counseling. This was the second incident of infidelity, the first time having been seven years into their marriage when James had an affair with their house girl.

“I was devastated the first time and I prayed about it and forgave him because he was quite remorseful and blamed the devil for it,” Doris explained. “I would be foolish to forgive him twice.”

“The Bible says you should forgive 70 times seven!” James retorted.

“Give me a break! So you have been defiling yourself intentionally so that you confuse me with your Bible quotes?” Doris shouted back as I pleaded with them for calm. 

Infidelity has never been easy to deal with. While a number of cases end up in separation and divorce, the majority of marriages continue and couples have to find ways of resolving and rebuilding their intimacy. If you are one of those who have decided to stay and resolve the problem, the compromise you have to make is to avoid angry outbursts, insults, judgments, and selfish demands. You must approach the crisis thoughtfully and with respect to the wayward spouse.

Your being respectful is part of a game plan that must be executed prudently. First, demand that your spouse totally separates from the other woman. Communication with the other woman must stop immediately and you must agree on how to monitor this. Honesty and sincerity on this are of utmost importance.

“I am sorry for what happened. I already told the woman never to come to my church again, she confused me!” James said desperately.

“I hate it when a mature man blames a woman for his wayward actions,” Doris interjected. As part of managing the infidelity, your man should allow you to inform a few close family confidantes, and perhaps also your best couple and any other close friends of the family. These people are important in ensuring accountability, and that infidelity does not happen again. Note that infidelity is an addiction, chances are high that it will recur, and solving the current episode must include how to handle this.

Remember, your man is not cheating because you failed at being a wife. The most common cause of infidelity is the weakening of intimacy. Wise couples look for ways to spice up their love rather than engaging in affairs.

While it is important to forgive and move on with the marriage if that is the choice you have made, forgiveness cannot happen unless the underlying issues are openly discussed. Hence, once the wayward spouse has separated from the affair, your next course of action is to face the difficult issues leading to, as well as the impact of the infidelity on both of you. The man must give his reasons for his actions. The woman must express her feelings and the damage caused by the infidelity. Unless this difficult discussion happens in an honest and open manner, true forgiveness cannot happen.

The third course of action is to rebuild the lost intimacy. Coaching is important for this to happen. This is a service that sexologists provide and you should register for it as a couple.

If the man finds it difficult to separate from the other woman and maintains communication and other engagements with her then the next course of action should be taken. The bitter truth is that such a man will not change. You should decide whether you want to live with a polygamous man or if you want a separation. Each of these decisions has consequences.

Doris and James made the decision to forgive and move on. They attended intimacy coaching and asked their best couple to be their watchdogs.

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