Caught Cheating? Now What?

Woman laying on a bed who just experienced infidelity

Caught Cheating? Now What? You’ve just discovered your husband/wife is having an affair. What do you do now? Confess or deny? As a Marriage Counselor, I see couples whose spouse has just been caught cheating and are at a crossroads in either being able to minimize or worsen the situation by continuing to lie, become defensive and skirt around the subject digging a deeper hole for themselves. 

 Don’t let yourself get caught up in delaying disclosure (coming clean) as what may seem like “damage control” (continued lying) only prevents the necessary information from getting through the initial crisis for any kind of successful Affair Recovery. If you don’t come clean at the beginning,  the story you tell will change daily as your partner will continue to push for more information to confirm their findings. 

As you receive more pressure you’ll start to divulge the truth anyway and the incriminating facts become significantly damaging and even irreparable for redeveloping trust. Coming clean sooner rather than later may sound counterintuitive but is really the best prognosis for Affair Recovery. Scary as it may be.

Is Your Relationship Over After Cheating? 

When you’ve just found out your wife/husband is cheating on you it is important not to do anything impulsive as you are experiencing a range of emotions and acting them out inappropriately can cause further damage to your mental well-being and to your relationship. Instead, try to process and manage your feelings and temperament. 

Your relationship/marriage does not mean that the result is a divorce because of the affair. It does not have to end, and if you want to save your marriage, then there are ways to communicate and help you and your partner understand the reasoning behind your actions. The relationship can be salvageable, and steps can begin towards making amends.

It is important to understand that if you choose to make amends, then you genuinely have to be fully committed to the path of making amends. If you do decide to confess the affair, it is crucial you do it for the right reasons and not just to clear your guilty conscience. 

To begin the process of rebuilding your relationship, there are various elements that you will need to carry out by utilizing some of these helpful tips.

What To Do After Getting Caught Cheating 

Stop the Affair.– If you want to salvage your relationship/marriage, then stop the affair. Simply put, stop cheating. You will not be able to move towards restoring your relationship/marriage if you continue to cheat. Ultimately end everything, including any form of communication with the person you are having an affair with.

  1. Be truthful. – My clients often tell me that had the Affair Partner been 100% truthful and fully incriminated themselves from the beginning of the discovery, the relationship could have been saved. Surprisingly, the Hurt Partner can endure the pain of hearing the awful truths but cannot and will not endure the agony of having to dig for those truths over and over again.

At this point, your partner’s trust in you is deficient; therefore, it is crucial for you to be open and honest. Do not hide any feelings or anything that will hinder their trust in you. Be understanding and acknowledge your partner’s feelings. Be truthful about wanting to rebuild the trust that is uncertain due to the betrayal.

Take full responsibility.- Do not place the blame on your partner. There was a conscious decision which was made by you, not your partner. You did not have to have an affair. You could have ended the relationship before having an issue, but you did not. Take full responsibility for your actions. Be honest about the issue and that it was you who decided to have an affair. Apologize to your partner. Placing the blame on your partner will only make things worse for both of you, making it even harder to restore the relationship. The critical point, take full responsibility, fully own it, and apologize for it.

Do not Lie.- Remember, you choose to have an affair, so do not lie about it. And do not lie about your reasons for having an affair. There is no reason anyone should have an affair while being in a relationship/marriage. It is not justifiable.

A guy not telling the truth 

  1. Caretake your partner’s needs. – Typically after getting caught, the Affair Partner will create even more damage by taking care of the hurt feelings of their Lover as this person may also be distraught and devastated as they too are now in a crisis. Any attempts to comfort or continue to communicate with the Lover will be seen as further betrayal. It is important to show remorse, be transparent, be readily available for your partner and show empathy for them rather than continue to defend yourself or caretake your own feelings at this point.

Give your partner some space.- Allow your partner to process the affair in their way. Take a “timeout” if necessary. Your partner’s life is just rattled and turned upside down. They need to process their emotions in their way. Respect their space. 

 

  1. Be committed to finding out what went wrong. – Acknowledge the impact of what this has done to your partner and show commitment through your behavior that you want to understand why this happened. Find a Marriage Counselor or Couples Counselor that specializes in Affair Recovery so that you both know what is needed to repair your relationship.

Guy holding his head after being cough cheating 

Mainly, if both of you have decided that you want to save the relationship/marriage, you are both on the same track and share a common goal: to save the marriage. Then you both have to remain committed to rebuilding the relationship and figuring out what was lacking in the relationship, leading to the affair. Both of you have to be fully committed to completing this common goal.

Rekindle courting your partner.- Once both of you have decided and commit to restoring your relationship, then woo your partner as you once did. Taking your partner out for a date or go away for a weekend. This step is possible once your partner is willing and is ready.

  1. Develop Empathy for your partner. – Having empathy for your partner is imperative as it shows you are able to understand their anger, intense sadness, hurt, and loss even though you are struggling with your own feelings of shame, guilt, and fear. Knowing you are caretaking the needs of and showing empathy for your partner will help you avoid saying things like, “I’ve answered that question already, why do you keep asking me the same questions, I told you I was sorry, when is this going to end, I’m not going to answer that, what about my pain? Etc.”

Be Patient.- Give them space and allow them to process the event. Let your partner grieve and take the time to recover from the betrayal. Understandably, this will take some time.

  1. Be Transparent. – Moving forward. Being transparent means when there is any communication between the Affair Partner and the Lover via email, phone, text, face to face, in-person, through another person, etc., you are to share that information with your partner with no exception. You may think this is counterintuitive as it will further anger/upset your partner. Not doing so will be a damaging choice. It will be even worse if it is later discovered that you once again “hid” something. Telling the truth means no lying, no filtering, no lying by omission, no editing, no withholding, no rationalizing, even if it incriminates you. This is how trust is rebuilt. 

Notably, during this moment of betrayal, be completely open. Let your partner know everything. Do not keep any secrets. Hiding any information will only increase their mistrust in you and your dedication to the relationship. Do not be surprised if your partner feels betrayed and is uncertain about you and your relationship. Respect their feelings and be transparent and truthful about wanting to restore from the betrayal.

Communicate.- One of the main reasons why marriages result in divorce is due to a lack of communication. It is important for you and your partner to talk to one another and be willing to listen to each other.

Couple Communicating

Maintain your word.- If both of you have decided to restore the relationship, then it is incredibly crucial for you to maintain your word. Keep your word when you tell your partner where you are going, whom you are going with, and what you are doing. This way, your partner is able to regain the trust that was lost by feeling validated that you are dependable and reliable and committed to restoring the relationship/marriage.

Forgiveness.- It is crucial to restoring the relationship because forgiveness is not just for the partner who was betrayed but also for the partner who committed the betrayal. It doesn’t mean that you can easily overlook the affair, but that you don’t need to carry this burden of guilt with you for the rest of your life. Own your mistake and then ask for forgiveness from your partner and forgive yourself. 

Beginning a new marriage.- What was once you thought your relationship/marriage was now over. If both your partner and you are committed to rebuilding your relationship/marriage, then you have to accept what was is now over and move forward towards bettering your relationship. Accomplish this by being more open, honest, loving, and becoming better partners for each other in this new marriage.

  1. Self-Care. – Finally, take care of yourself during this challenging time. The crisis stage is a time when couples don’t know whether they want to stay together or split. Emotions run like a rollercoaster. Develop a support system of people you trust and who can give you support. Don’t share the details of your relationship problems as this is private information between you and your partner. Getting some Individual Counseling to manage depression and anxiety would be helpful while your partner decides whether they want to pursue Marriage/Couples Counseling. Don’t inappropriately act out your emotions through excessive drinking or behavior that can worsen your circumstances.

See eye to eye on getting professional help.- If both you and your partner are serious about working through this rough time and are committed to restoring the relationship, seek professional help. It is especially so if your partner suggests seeing a marriage counselor being willing and open to it because this shows your partner, you are serious and committed to rebuilding your relationship. During this time, it’s essential to recognize and identify the elements which have led to the relationship’s problems. Therefore, couples therapy would be a great place to help restore new ways of interconnecting.

Getting caught cheating can be very worrisome. During the crisis stage emotions run rampant and people don’t always think clearly. It’s important to seek professional help sooner rather than later so you don’t lose the opportunity for further damage control.

If you’ve just discovered your partner is cheating please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I can help you both talk about what happened, why it happened and how to move forward through the process of Affair Recovery.

 

 

Couples therapist

Sarah Ruggera, Marriage and Family Therapist

Helping People Who Ask The Question….

“Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”

858.735.1139

What Defines Infidelity?

What really defines Infidelity? What exactly is an affair? Is it an affair when your partner is “sexting?” What about having an emotional connection with someone but there is no sex involved (coitus)? How about watching porn, is that infidelity? The definition of infidelity is subjective. Typically, it is what two people who are in a primary relationship say it is. Both partners within that relationship determine what infidelity means to them, and it may differ across different relationships. Also, since infidelity depends on individual perceptions, partners may not initially see eye-to-eye.

Related: When Is It Time To Break Up?

Man and Woman discussing intently

Is Infidelity Betrayal?

Oftentimes, the Affair Partner (the cheater) minimizes the behavior and doesn’t think it is an affair because there was no actual sexual intercourse. There are many justifications the Affair Partner may try to give to manipulate the situation. Nonetheless, the Hurt Partner (the one cheated on) begs to differ, as they understandably feel the hurt of betrayal. So, is infidelity betrayal? And if so, on what level? 

There is no omnipotent being that defines infidelity. As a Marriage Counselor, I label it as a transgression from what the explicit or implicit agreement was between two partners about monogamy. During some marriage ceremonies promising to be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives is supposedly understood. In some, it is even directly stated and mutually agreed. But sometimes, individuals either miss that promise or rationalize their way out of it and cheat anyways. Cheating, again, is what the couple defines as “cheating.” If both partners agree that kissing other people doesn’t betray their relationship, then kissing isn’t considered cheating, even though it is in other relationships. Monogamy can no longer be assumed, but rather, must be discussed and agreed upon by both partners. Sexual and physical actions are commonly seen as betrayal, but sometimes, partners don’t agree on what qualifies as cheating in their relationship. If there is disagreement, thorough discussion, and potentially compromise, is needed. 

Woman sleeping next to Man texting

Why is Discussing Infidelity So Important?

Without discussing what defines infidelity within the relationship, there remains space for misunderstanding or beliefs to misalign. Even when it is discussed, defined, and agreed on by both partners, misunderstanding can still occur. People usually focus on discussing physical intimacy but forget to discuss emotional intimacy. Whether it is texting another person or connecting with someone over the internet, sexual or intimate conversations are often considered as emotional infidelity. This form of infidelity can be just as destructive to a relationship because it can create doubt and mistrust. There are many different boundaries, which may vary significantly from a past relationship or others’ relationships. Therefore, explicitly discussing what defines infidelity is important for establishing mutual understanding and trust regarding those boundaries

Related: What’s A Healthy Relationship Anyway

It may help to talk about infidelity by telling your partner you read an article that discusses its subjectivity. This opens the conversation up to share each person’s perceptions of cheating. Also, counterintuitively, it is helpful to discuss issues or potential issues while things are good in the relationship. Again, misunderstanding can be avoided by communicating openly.

What Leads to Infidelity?

Men and women have affairs for many different reasons. The major attraction in an affair is not the Love Partner (the other person in the affair) but the positive mirroring of the self – “the way I look and feel when I see myself in the other person’s eyes.” After being married for years, the woman disappears behind the mother; the man disappears behind the provider; the sexual person disappear behind the responsible person. Therein lies the longing for emotional connection. When a person isn’t getting the emotional needs from their partner, they seek connection outside of the relationship. Clients I work with say they have affairs because they want to feel a sense of “aliveness.” They want to relive their vibrant past selves. They want to reclaim something they had lost or forgotten. People almost always have affairs because it makes them feel something other than what they have been feeling for some time in long-term relationships.

Related: Is The Man You Married The Partner You Want?

Is it Possible to Recover from Infidelity?

In Affair Recovery the single best indicator of whether the relationship can survive infidelity is how much empathy the Affair Partner shows for the pain they have caused to the Hurt Partner. The Hurt Partner must be willing to find ways to appropriately manage overwhelming emotions about their partner’s affair so the couple can move forward to sort out why the affair happened, and more importantly, what needs to change so that it never happens again. Having insight about their narrative and being able to articulate it to one another makes for good prognosis.

Divorce doesn’t have to be the outcome of infidelity. On the contrary, infidelity could be the catalyst in developing a renewed relationship that’s a better fit for both partners in a world where change is constant. It’s naive to think we can get all our needs met by one person. So, I say become a more dynamic person to be able to accommodate the changes needed for moving forward. Some people appreciate the reframe of infidelity, in that, you can rethink infidelity as a means of waking up your relationship. Take the bad and turn it into something that could be the best thing that ever happened to you and for your relationship.

A lot of couples do make it past an affair by learning and understanding and setting the relationship in a new direction. It takes work from both partners but recovering from an affair is not out of reach. 

Have you or your partner had an affair and want to fix your relationship? Contact Sarah for more information on Affair Recovery. 

Couples therapist

Sarah Ruggera, Marriage and Family Therapist
Helping People Who Ask The Question….
“Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”
858.735.1139

What is Commitment Phobia & Relationship Anxiety?

What is Commitment Phobia & Relationship Anxiety?

a couple upset at each other

Being in a relationship is a goal for most people. It makes them feel relaxed and happy, with the main focus of being in that relationship for the rest of their life. For some, the idea of a long-term relationship sounds overwhelming, and the feelings of entering that kind of commitment can cause concerns, stress, or even panic.  Enter Commitment Phobia & Relationship Anxiety.

Related: Benefits Of Online Couple Counseling

What is commitment phobia? 

When it comes to being in a relationship, commitment anxiety is very common. People that struggle with this fear can shy away from the idea of dating or showing any connection with someone, although they are keen to love and be loved by another person. 

Commitment anxiety can also occur in current relationships that appear to be healthy and going well. If a physical connection begins to be too much for them, it can often cause an emotional effect, resulting in a lot of anxiety and fear. This is when you may start to deny or are unaware of your commitment issues. You will often feel like you want freedom and space when it’s too intermediate or close. 

Do you experience fear of getting into a relationship with someone you love? Couple’s Counselors San Diego can help you today

The Causes of Commitment Phobia? 

Sadly, the Phobia does not disappear on its own, but it will often increase. It is a balanced phenomenon among men and women, and the causes can progress from a negative experience in the past, accidents, injuries, or traumas that have not been treated or managed correctly. 

Sometimes it can progress over time since childhood that can affect you later on in life. For example, loneliness, neglect, divorce, fighting between parents, or having an overprotective youth can cause a lot of confidence issues

Past relationships can frequently have a considerable impact on current connections for fear of repeating emotional or physical abuse, and it can have a knock-on effect with touch, sexual chemistry, and trust.

Losing trust in a relationship from being in an unhealthy one or witnessing friends and family in a toxic one can linger subconsciously in the back of the mind.

Commitment phobia can also stem from social media, which is becoming a massive part of our lives. It’s something we are looking for and comparing ourselves to every moment of the day. Even though someone’s photos and statuses you see online seem like they are living the perfect life, it can sometimes be the total opposite. Just remember that people only post what they want to post, there are moments that they need a cry and time to be alone. The media can put a massive weight on us and leave us feeling engulfed with emotion and can turn us away from a healthy committed relationship.

Related: Can Your Verbally Abusive Partner Change?

Fear of Commitment? These Ideas May Help. 

Happy married couple

If it’s the feeling of fear that’s been a hurdle for you in letting go and embracing the love from a healthy relationship for a while, and are unable to overcome it, then we have some solutions for you.

If you are constantly thinking about this one question, “Should I stay or should I go?” then Sarah Cook Ruggera LMFT could be the solution for you, especially if you find it impossible to communicate without fighting. The “moving forward plan” will put goals in place to stabilize or correct your problem areas. 

Talking may be the hardest part, but it’s a great way to let your emotions and thoughts out. Speaking to a marriage counselor where you can spill your thoughts and feelings alone or in front of your partner, even if it’s not in order or if it does not make sense as you say it. A counselor can take everything you’re saying and pick it apart and put the puzzle together to align your mind

We all know the feeling of trying to say something, but you can not explain it in the way you want to. If you visit a trained counselor who has experience in treating clients with commitment issues, then they will completely understand what you are going through, and present strategies to overcome it. 

Social engagement with positive people in your life has proved to help with the anxiety of a relationship. Being in a relaxed environment may give you the freedom you need and take the problem off your mind allowing yourself to breathe. 

If your commitment issues are a milder case, you may benefit from some self-help books from the library. However, self-help books have its limitations, so you don’t get the full support you need from counseling.

Understanding the hidden fears that will hurt your relationships may come across as very overwhelming in your mind, but writing a journal or drawing your thoughts can play a significant role. If you struggle with where to start, then start by writing a brain dump page that will take a massive weight off your shoulders, write anything that comes to your mind, without concentrating on spellings, neatness, or if it makes sense. You could write or draw the struggling experience from last week, which triggers anxiety. 

After producing this, you will see certain things jumping out at you. These are the parts you can start with when writing a journal to decide if you need to speak to anyone or take time for yourself to process your feelings. It can give you some structure, so you spend less time worrying about forgetting any vital details. 

Contact Sarah Cook Ruggera to learn more about treating relationship anxiety and commitment phobia

Conclusion

Feeling and admitting the fear of commitment anxiety, even to yourself in the first place, is the most crucial step to recovery. Giving yourself that praise that you have made it this far will improve your journey to change and fix the fear. Allowing yourself and your life to be open for change is another massive step that will help you feel less anxious and more rewarding about the healing process.

Related: Counseling In the Convenience of your own Home – Teletherapy