Facing infidelity or an extramarital affair means facing decisions. Your world is thrown into chaos, confusion, fear and here you are… trying to decide what to do.
And, there are many decisions looming. Do I throw him/her out? Should I spy? Do we separate? Do I talk about the affair? Should I confront the other person? Should we have sex? Should s/he sleep in another bed? etc.
Here’s one of the problems: Facing infidelity or an extramarital affair is so disturbing that the process of making decisions is made exceedingly more difficult than usual. Your world is turned upside down. The way you make decisions likewise, is turned upside down.
Allow me to offer some guidelines for making decisions during this time of your life.
1. Don’t be in a hurry to make decisions. Don’t rush.
I say it normally takes 2-4 years to resolve the infidelity crisis if you wing it on your own. You can slice off a great deal of time if you research, get support and study infidelity, yet at that, it still takes months to work through the pain, rebuild faith and trust and put together in a healthy way your life and/or relationship.
Don’t make knee-jerk decisions. Don’t react immediately to your situation. Please don’t listen to well meaning family and friends who have a difficult time experiencing your hurt and out of their discomfort (and concern for you) suggest impulsive moves, such as kicking him/her out, leaving, filing for divorce, etc.
Allow yourself to be with your pain for a while. It’s ok. You have more internal strength than you can imagine… and you will discover that. You CAN handle it. This too shall pass!
Take your time…… there is no hurry.
Exception to the rule: If there is a strong possibility of physical or severe emotional abuse and if your children are in physical or emotional danger, get the heck out. Now. Find a safe place!
2. Get your affair feet under you.
You are entering a new world, a world you probably thought you would never enter and so you are not prepared. You are clueless about what faces you and what might transpire. As well you have been taught myths and half-truths about infidelity that will get in your way of progressing in a healthy sane manner.
Learn about infidelity. Learn about the different types of affairs. Get Break Free From the Affair and other information about infidelity and affairs. Study the Killer Mistakes that prolong the affair and your agony. Drink it all in.
You, like thousands of others who never thought they would be in this situation, will discover strength and power that will one day truly amaze you .
You will learn that you have value and worth, you are not defective, the affair is NOT your fault. You are not to blame. It was his/her temporary break with reality that put him/her at risk. You will be the winner. S/he is headed down the slippery slope.
Get support. Join my online infidelity support group. Get coaching if it fits you. You will discover the power of healing in being with others who truly understand and will guide and encourage you on your infidelity journey.
These mini-decisions along the way will give you a base, a strength from which to operate and make the tough decisions that await you. With this base, your future decisions will come from a well thought out, caring and informed center within. This is good!
3. Reflect on how you typically make decisions.
When considering a decision, it is important for you to talk it through? Does the path become clear as you hear yourself talk with an empathetic other?
Is writing helpful? Do you jot down ideas, pros and cons? Do you doodle your way through to a conclusion?
Do you think your way through a problem? Do you go off by yourself to a quiet place and sit with your glass of wine or cup of tea and let the thoughts and images emerge? And, an action becomes apparent as the route to follow?
Embrace and use your personal decision making process.
4. You will know when you know.
Timing is everything. You can’t force a decision. Well, I suppose you can, but, I believe, you have a greater risk of making a poorly informed decision.
You will know when you reach a decision point. It seems more obvious. The wavering is over. the ambivalence is tipped. An inner voice says, “It’s time to do it.”
And, you can usually trust that inner voice, all things considered. It is highly accurate. Spend some time listening to it. It will guide you in reliantly, persistently and consistently. This is especially true if you have mastered your personal need system, or I should say, as you have eliminated your personal needs and live more according to your values, standards and integrity.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions when making a decision.
In reality, if you want to trust the decision and that internal voice, make sure you DO ask the hard questions. The hard question will give clarity, confidence and direction.
In my e-book, Break Free From the Affair, I strongly encourage my readers, before they make ANY decision or react in any way to consider the question: “Do I REALLY want to be married to him/her?” And, I offer subquestions that help flush out truly whether you want to be married to that person or are merely driven at the moment by your personal fears and needs.
Once the hard questions are asked and answered, the path always takes on a exciting life of its own.
6. Decision making can be done in “baby steps.”
Break the looming decision down into manageable steps. I often help people with this in coaching.
So, the question is whether to separate?
Well, what boundaries do you want to set up now so that you are not globbing onto each other and killing the potential for reconciliation? List 2-3 actions you can take now to create “distance” for the welfare of the relationship and decide to act on one of them. (i.e. I refuse to ask him/her a question when s/he walks through the door.)
Most major decisions are a combination of minor or smaller series of choices to act.
Lead up to a huge decision. Don’t jump on top of it.
Know that you most likely will second guess yourself.
7. The action path that you choose in the face of infidelity is usually not a path of 100% conviction and certainty.
Are those, for example, who choose to remain married to the cheating spouse always 100% convinced that their decision is correct? Very very seldom.
80% of the time they think the decision was correct. But 20% of the time the big doubts and questions settle in again.
Or maybe it’s 60% of the time that it seems like the appropriate path. Or, perhaps you have more certainty and 90% of the time the decision feels very good and you are happy you made that choice.
Life is not perfect. Decisions are not perfect.