Couples Corner Relationship Advice
April 14th, 2015
Confronting Your Partner About Infidelity
You suspect your partner is cheating on you, and you can’t keep it in any longer. The suspicion and paranoia are all consuming. You are scared, hurt and very, very angry. However, before you unleash your accusations like a pack of blood-sniffing wild dogs, you must prepare yourself. You need a plan.
When most people question their partner about cheating, they don’t think beyond getting an answer. They don’t know how to continue after the conversation. What if they deny they are cheating? What if they confirm? What if they say nothing and leave, then what?
You must make a plan.
The one thing you should do before you approach your partner is make a plan.
Thinking about all the possibilities can be incredibly painful, but I promise you that it’ll be worth the hurt. Creating a plan gives us a chance to face our fears—and then to overcome them. If you are already dealing with suspicion, that’s enough on your plate. Adding out-of-control emotions can make you say or do something you regret (shattering a piece of good china or throwing their cell phone against the wall). You need to be in control because you want answers, and getting hysterical or threatening is not the way to achieve that.
Being prepared also means you have control of the conversation, including when it happens and where. You never want to confront your spouse at a public event or in front of family or friends, especially kids. A family barbecue or your niece’s baptism is no time for this conversation. It should be done when you are at home, just the two of you.
Having a plan gives you peace of mind that you are not walking into a situation as a victim; you are walking in confident because you are protecting yourself. Here are four points to help you create a plan that leaves you feeling strong and supported:
- Preparing Yourself for Planning
When you begin to prepare, you need to put yourself in the mindset of learning the truth. The truth may not be what you want to hear—but it is what you need to hear. With the truth comes healing. It may break your heart when you hear it, but it’s your first step to recovering from this devastating experience.
Think about this: Would you rather live a life based on a lie or live a life based upon truth? If it’s the latter, then sit back and think about what you would want to say to your partner if they deny, confirm or walk away. As Mae West says, “A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”
- Preparing for Confirmation
Getting ready to hear your partner validate your worst fears seems almost like waiting to be punched in the gut. Be prepared to harness as much strength as you can. Let strength come from knowing what you’ll do even before your partner admits to their infidelity.
You must contemplate: If they admit it, is cheating a deal breaker? The only factor that determines the answer is whether or not you will be able to forgive them. It doesn’t matter how many times your spouse has cheated, what the other woman looks like, do they love them, etc. All those questions just lead to more questions, but “Can you forgive them?” is the only question you should worry about.
If you don’t know the answer, that’s OK. You can be prepared to tell your partner, “Thank you for the truth, but I don’t know if I can forgive you. I need some time.” If they made the decision to cheat on you, you have the decision as to whether or not you continue in the relationship. But forgiveness is the only way you can move forward after your partner admits to cheating.
- Preparing for Denial and Withdrawal
Your first instinct might be a sense of relief, but the moment after your partner denies your accusation, that’s the cue for you to talk about why you suspected infidelity in the first place. Be prepared to present your partner the evidence you have collected; make sure you have it on hand. You want to put it all on the table—literally or figuratively—so that they know you are serious.
If your partner continues to deny your suspicion, then you have a decision to make. If you believe your evidence and you trust yourself, then you should follow your intuition. Or if you believe your partner, then you accept your partner’s word.
Either way, if you had a suspension that your partner cheated, you need to seek counseling to work through emotions and rebuild trust.
You should also think about if your partner leaves once they are confronted. This does happen, and if it happens to you, consider whether you will let them go or will you go after them. If they walk away, I recommend you let them go cool off. That means no repeated phone calls or angry texts. Never put yourself or your partner in a volatile situation. Going after them may escalate the situation, and letting them leave will also give you time to calm down. Your partner will return, and when they do, you can finish the conversation.
- Preparing A Support System
Be purposeful about who you surround yourself with during this time. You must create a positive support system that will be there for you no matter what. These are the people who will never say the dreadful “I told you so.” Your support system can be friends, family members, a pastor or counselor. It can be someone who you trust to tell your feelings, thoughts and fears. Support is important because you need to know that no matter what your partner says and no matter what decisions you make, you are loved and not alone.
There is always a chance something will happen that you didn’t plan for, but at least you have your basics covered and you have your support system in place. That is exactly what they are there for: to listen to you when you break down or need to vent. They are there to listen and comfort.
If you need more support to confronting a cheating spouse, making a decision to stay or go or regaining trust, please feel free to contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule an appointment. I can help people in Greenville, SC, and surrounding areas. Counseling is a effective step to help you heal and recover from the pain and hurt you are feeling.