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Dealing with a cheating spouse – Still Breathing

12 May 2020
It comes down to two choices, really.
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Deciding to get married is a lifechanging decision and many wouldn't want their marriage to end, let alone badly. But, as we know, these things do happen for many reasons.

In Abi's case, after becoming a widow unexpectantly, she had to deal with a double betrayal learning that her best friend, Candice, and her husband, Trent, were having an affair. Ouch! Double the grief!

“It’s a double betrayal, so it leaves you reeling,” says Chicago-based relationship therapist Debra Alper, speaking to news website, Chicago Tribune. “You feel as though you are walking around in your underwear when the rest of the world is dressed. All your private thoughts and feelings no longer feel safe for you. There is embarrassment, self-blame, shame, and a sense of being duped."

Many people, much like Abi, have had to deal with infidelity. We've rounded up a few tips to deal with the gory aftermath whether you choose to remain in the marriage/relationship or not. And bear in mind, that's an intensely personal decision to make.

Choice one: staying with a spouse who has cheated

Find pillars of strength to lean on

Being cheated on can bruise your mind, heart, and soul. It is easy to feel inadequate as your sense of trust is obliterated. Rope in all the support you can from your friends and family. Find support groups. Do research about it, read books and articles to find out what others have done to overcome the situation.

Learn the truth

There are, no doubt, many questions assaulting your mind. When did they first meet? How did they meet? How did they maintain the relationship? How did I miss this? The best thing, if you want answers, is to get full disclosure from your spouse. It is also a way to start mending the shattered trust.

Get professional help

Seeking couples counselling and individual counselling for yourself and each member of the family will empower everyone to approach the healing process on their own terms, in an objective manner.

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Choice two: leaving the spouse who has cheated

Close the door for good

When deciding to leave a cheating spouse, it works well to make a clean break and end that chapter of your life as much as possible. Naturally, having children means you might want to rather establish clear boundaries when in contact with each other. But keep it cordial.

Don't air dirty laundry

No matter how you feel about your former spouse, it will makes things incredibly awkward to bad-mouth him or her to your children, friends, and family. If done for a long time, it can fester a debilitating bitterness which can lead to further problems.

Learn your rights

Splitting up has many legal ramifications. Arm yourself with knowing what is within your right, and what is not in terms of finances, property and custody of children.

"I think when a person finds out their spouse is cheating, it seems like their life just fell apart, and honestly, it probably did," says Alper. "But that doesn’t mean life won’t ever be good again. It just takes time."

The story of family, love, and heartbreak continues next Thursday at 20:10 on #MNet101. Follow the conversation with #StillBreathingSA on Twitter (@MNet), Instagram (@mnettv), and Facebook (@MNet).