Is your insecure partner driving you nuts? — Susan Winter
How to Handle Insecurity After Your Spouse Cheats
It’s common to feel insecure after a betrayal. When your spouse has an affair, it can leave you wondering why you weren’t enough and whether he or she will cheat again. Your feelings are natural, but insecurity takes its toll on your personal happiness over time, and it can damage your relationship further. If you want to stay with your spouse (or even if you don’t), managing your insecurity is a must. The first step is to work on your emotional self-sufficiency. After you feel secure within yourself, you can work on your relationship with your spouse and take steps to rebuild the trust between you.
Becoming Secure in Yourself
Work on your self-esteem.Realize that your spouse’s infidelity does not mean you deserve to be cheated on or disrespected. You deserve dignity and fairness in your relationships, and it’s not your fault that your spouse decided to stray behind your back.
- Build yourself back up by reminding yourself of your positive qualities and achievements. Try making a list of all of your positive qualities. These can be anything from being a loyal friend to knowing how to play the guitar to graduating from college. Write down all of your positive qualities and review this list often. If you are having trouble thinking of things to add, then ask a trusted friend or family member to help you.
Deal with intrusive thoughts.You may sometimes find yourself dwelling on worries about whether or not your spouse is going to cheat again. These thoughts can be disruptive, so it is important to learn how to recognize them and redirect your attention when they occur.
- Try to replace an intrusive thought about your spouse cheating with a positive one. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I know my spouse is going to cheat on me again and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!” then you might replace this thought with something like, “I am doing everything I can to recover from my spouse’s infidelity and I am proud of all of my hard work and progress.”
Take care of your health.Focus on the basics of good nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Dealing with a difficult issue like infidelity is more manageable when your physical needs are taken care of.
- Self-care activities like meditation and writing in a journal can be good for your emotional health.
- Avoid turning to alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms for comfort. You might feel better temporarily, but these substances will make your long-term problems worse.
Cultivate hobbies that are unrelated to your relationship.Carve out a few hours a week to devote to an activity you enjoy, or pick up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Spending time developing a skill or exercising your creativity can help you feel more emotionally self-sufficient.
- Try starting a reading habit, learning a craft like knitting, or taking a class on something that interests you.
Seek individual counseling.Self-esteem and trust issues may arise after learning that your spouse was unfaithful. Just as it can be helpful to seek help as a couple, you may also benefit from talking to a professional on your own.
- You might choose individual counseling as a tool to help you restore your confidence and heal after being cheated on if you do not want to work on the marriage. Your therapist can serve as a source of support and guidance as you navigate the decision to divorce.
- It may also help to join a support group for spouses who have experienced infidelity. Sharing your story and hearing that of others can ultimately help you heal.
Move on, if you choose.It is entirely up to you how you choose to move forward after suffering from infidelity in your marriage. Perhaps if your spouse appears to be a serial cheater, or your trust cannot be mended, you might choose to divorce. Divorce is never an easy choice; yet, it is one that you should make only after discussing the ordeal with your spouse and various supportive loved ones.
- A therapist can help you decide what is best for your future (and your children’s, if you have any). This professional may also assist you in having the discussion with your spouse, family members, and children.
- Take plenty of time to think through your options and make your decision. Even if other people advise you to act quickly, take as much time as you need to make this decision.
Repairing the Relationship
Commit to forgiving your spouse.If you are planning to stay together, forgiveness is a must. Holding on to resentment and bitterness will only poison your relationship in the future. Make a conscious decision to forgive your spouse and move forward.
- It may be difficult to forgive your spouse all at once, especially if the betrayal happened recently. Instead, work towards a goal of forgiveness as you rebuild your relationship.
- Try saying something like "I forgive you," or "I am working on forgiveness" out loud to yourself, your spouse, and to other people. Even if you don’t feel ready to forgive just yet, saying your intentions out loud may help you to move towards feeling ready to forgive.
Seek marital counseling.Counseling can be an invaluable tool in rebuilding your relationship with your spouse. A counselor will help you figure out why the infidelity happened. They can also help you find ways to work through your emotions and teach you to communicate better with each other.
- Counseling can also help you and your spouse decide whether continuing the relationship is the right choice for you.
Communicate often and openly.Designate regular times to check in with your spouse. Don’t just talk about their affair – discuss your current feelings, what each of you needs from the other, and your goals for the relationship as you move forward.Talk about things that are not related to your relationships as well, such as your passions, goals, and dreams. This can help to restore some of the excitement in your relationship.
- Re-opening channels of communication with your spouse helps to restore your relationship after living with the secrecy and lies of infidelity.
- If you find that you spend too much time discussing the affair itself, try setting aside 15 minutes a day to talk about it. Stick to other topics the rest of the time.
Rebuild physical intimacy.After your trust has been compromised with an affair, it can be difficult to reconnect with your spouse on a physical level. However, if you choose to rebuild your marriage, this is a step you must take to fully recover and move on.
- You can restore intimacy in your marriage by making an effort to communicate your deepest desires with your spouse—your inner thoughts and feelings. In addition, dating each other again may also help. Go on a romantic trip with your spouse. Return to your earlier days when you lovingly traded massages, cuddled on the couch most evenings, and discussed your days during dinner rather than eating in silence.
- Marriage counseling can also be helpful in allowing you and your spouse to cross the bridge back to sexual intimacy. This may take time as you may have built up walls after the infidelity, and it may be the last thing that you work on. Try to focus one rebuilding your relationship and this should follow in time. It’s important for you to both be honest with yourselves and fully grieve the betrayal to become physical partners again.
- You can also make an effort to be physically affectionate with each other until you are ready to have an intimate relationship again. Simple things like holding hands, kissing each other goodbye, and giving each other hugs may help to improve your emotional and physical intimacy.
Avoid clingy behavior.Don’t call your spouse constantly to check up on where they are or insist that they spend all their free time with you. While this behavior is understandable, it’s likely to make your spouse feel smothered, which could drive a wedge between you.
- It is reasonable to ask for some accountability from your spouse after a betrayal. Just be careful not to cross the line into unhealthily jealous or controlling behavior.
Seek out positive experiences with your spouse.Doing new things can help you move past the affair together. Find things to do that will bring you closer and help you make new memories.
- Consider taking a weekend trip together, picking up a new hobby as a couple, or just making an effort to spend more time running errands and doing chores together.
Accept that you cannot control your spouse.Whether your spouse stays faithful in the future is entirely up to them. No matter how carefully you check up on them, if your spouse wants to cheat again, they will find a way. Likewise, if they are committed to fixing their mistake, you won’t have to try to control them.
- Remind yourself that you have proven through this process that you can take care of yourself and survive no matter what happens.
Set goals for your relationship together.Sit down with your spouse and think about what you want your relationship to look like in the future. Make some step-by-step plans for turning your goals into reality. Working towards a common target puts you and your spouse on the same team, helping you to rebuild camaraderie and trust.
Discuss issues of privacy.It’s valid for you to request access to your spouse’s phone and online activity after they cheat on you. However, they still have a right to privacy. Talk with your spouse about how you will balance privacy and accountability in the future.
- If your spouse remains secretive about their online or phone activity, consider whether they are really committed to helping you trust them again.
Don’t assume you know what your spouse is thinking.No one is a mind reader, and it’s easy to imagine problems where there are none. Focus on the facts. Don’t let yourself get caught up in fears that your spouse is planning to cheat on you again unless there’s a concrete reason.
- Do a reality check with yourself when your imagination runs away with you. Stop and ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this? Is there a more likely explanation?”
- Also, remind yourself that if they are cheating, then they will likely mess up and get caught again. You don’t have to constantly be on the lookout, so allow yourself to let go of this responsibility.
QuestionI was cheated on emotionally through messaging. Is it right to ask to see their phone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn my opinion you are being perfectly reasonable to ask to see their phone. They violated your trust by cheating emotionally, so therefore cannot expect you to just trust them without proof of their loyalty.Thanks!
QuestionI've been cheated on by my partner. Every now and then he's back in contact with the person who he was cheating with. I can't seem to trust him, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is no reason for him to be in contact with the person he was having an affair with unless he has a child with them or has to work with them. You are not being insecure and you have every right to tell him to never speak to this person again. If he refuses to break off contact, or you catch him talking to them again, leave him.Thanks!
QuestionIf I'm the cheater, why do I have these awful gut feelings my wife is doing something she shouldn't be?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerProbably because you feel guilty. You don't want that to happen to you and you're possibly realizing how badly you have hurt her.Thanks!
QuestionMy boyfriend cheated on me with his ex.It's been 10 months and I still can't overcome the felling of insecurity. I can't trust him but I still love him. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it's been 10 months and you still cannot trust him, you should leave him. it will be hard, but think about yourself. Maybe it's time to move on to someone who will be faithful, or just focus on taking care of yourself and learning to love yourself.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you handle a spouse who has cheated and still denies it and he knows you have enough proof?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBegin divorce proceedings. Depending on where you live, having proof of his infidelity may help you receive more of your joint assets. You could try to convince him to go to marriage counseling if you want to try to save the marriage, but it's not a good sign that he refuses to be honest.Thanks!
QuestionAfter 41 years of marriage my wife developed an intense multi-year relationship with a former boyfriend. Telephone contact with this person was 5 - 7 times daily. Should I trust her?Top AnswererPerhaps take a very rational approach, like a flowchart. Is it friendship, or are they having sex? If friendship, then that's fine. If sex, can you live with it? If yes, well that's fine, if no, take action. I know it's not that cut-and-dry, but it can serve as a guideline, at least. Ask yourself what you feel, what you want, and get to work on achieving that. But in essence, if she's just having a friendship, there's nothing wrong. If you feel sad about it, she does have to take that into account in her actions.Thanks!
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