I can still remember the feeling in my stomach the day I caught my husband cheating. I found emails and photos that made the truth abundantly clear. It felt like my entire world had come crashing to the ground. What followed was a combination of anger, grief, and panic at what might happen next—not to mention the horror of wondering how my children would be hurt by it.
So if you catch your husband cheating, what do you do? The knee-jerk reaction might be to kick him out of the house as far as you can send him. But is that always the right decision? While each case of infidelity is different, here are 6 things to think about if you catch your husband cheating.
1. Feel the feelings.
You’ll feel hurt, anger, and intense sadness. Feel those feelings. Don’t avoid them. Cry, wail, go for a drive and scream in your car. Feeling the pain is the first step in the healing process.
2. Share the feelings.
Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Cry on their shoulder. Then, once you feel like you can, talk to your husband. It might be tough but resist the urge to throw things at him, curse, or act crazy.
As Dr. Gary Chapman says in his book Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, “There could be unwelcome consequences if you do lose it … now he (your husband) can blame you (even if that’s just a defense mechanism) rather than himself because your behavior has demonstrated that you’re an unreasonable, uncontrolled person.”
3. Get help with your feelings.
This is a major upheaval in your life, so don’t try to go it alone. Find a counselor who shares your values and who understands that marriages can thrive after infidelity. Look for someone who will not only help you process your heartache but will also help you understand how to establish new behaviors in your marriage that can benefit you and your husband.
If you can get your husband to counseling, involve him too. But if you need to process without him there, schedule appointments just for yourself. Avoid seeking help at these 5 Places Not to Get Marriage Advice.
4. Embrace the feeling of hope.
Let’s take this straight from Dr. Chapman because he says it so well:
“The biblical ideal is to seek restoration. Your marriage can be redeemed. There are no sins that cannot be forgiven. However, there can be no reconciliation without genuine repentance. Your spouse must be willing to break off all contact with the other person and devote himself to rebuilding your marriage.”
5. Re-establish trust.
Trust will not be restored overnight. If your husband sincerely wants to rebuild trust, he’ll embrace the attitude: “My life is an open book. From this moment on, I have nothing to hide. I’m committed to rebuilding our marriage.” This kind of openness and recommitment will in time help you restore trust. And remember, you can come back from a marriage disaster—even infidelity.
6. Consider your children’s feelings.
As angry as you are at your husband, remember he is still your children’s father. He may be a fabulous dad or just a mediocre one, but they still need him. And think twice before sharing details about the situation with your children. Even if they’re teenagers, they don’t have the emotional maturity to understand all aspects of infidelity.
If you can, keep your home intact for your children. Some people say, “Oh, if I’m not happy, my children won’t be happy.” But that’s not always true. We can choose to be content, to work on the marriage until it becomes happier, and to keep our home together for our children. Of course, there are cases when a marriage truly cannot be saved; but, it’s worth giving 100 percent to try to make it happen.
Tell us! How do you affair-proof your marriage?