Here is a scenario: A woman came to me wanting to file a divorce against her husband. “He is cheating on me. I want a divorce!” As her attorney, I took it upon myself and spoke to the husband separately, asking for his side of the story. And honestly, I believe he’s an honest man who is clueless about the situation. Something just didn’t add up. I asked the wife if he has admitted to adultery. But she was emotional and didn’t want to speak to or about the husband. When I asked for conclusive pieces of evidence, she couldn’t provide much except witnessing his car parked in front of a lady colleague’s house. I told her repeatedly to confront the husband first to confirm her allegation. Annoyed, she went to another lawyer to have the job done instead. About eight months later, she came to see me again. “I should have talked to him. It was a mistake,” she admitted. Apparently, the lady, whom she suspected was having an affair with her (ex)husband, had cancer. The husband was just a being a good friend by being there for her.
So, what can you do if you suspect your partner is cheating on you?
Communicate. The last thing you want to do when you suspect a foul play is to jump into conclusion. It’s a dangerous gamble and I would advise against it. Don’t let paranoia get into your uncertain about your partner’s loyalty. Many times, the clues or indications that you obsess over may not even be valid evidence. So, before you look into driving yourself crazy with jealousy and suspicion, be direct and speak to your partner. Even if he or she denies it, at least there is a 50-50 chance to it. It’s much worse keeping it to yourself. In a situation whereby cheating is proven, it is crucial to cut off all communication with the third party. Not only will it make things more complicated, it will also bring in more negativity into your life.
Provide substantial proof. It’s important to try and obtain a tangible proof of infidelity, which comprises of either email, video, history of phone or social media conversations, pictures, a Private Investigator’s report or a personal belonging that belonged to the other party. Such evidence would have to be substantial and not just merely hearsay or other eye-witnesses that would barely count as solid proof. Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. Having a trustworthy set of evidence will not only prevent you from looking like a distrusting fool but would serve as a way for you to no longer be in denial in a relationship.
Self-reflect. There is no denying that cheating on your spouse isn’t a moral act. However, most men and women who have affairs are good people who only made a mistake. They never thought it would happen to them but, suddenly, they’re in this complicated, dangerous situation. We all agree that infidelity is a mistake. But how you deal with it is more important. Take a step back and look at the whole relationship. Revaluate it; is this one mistake worth cutting off ties? Figure out why your marriage fell apart and how to fix it; how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
On another perspective, sometimes things like this need to happen so that the relationship can become stronger. Obviously, from first glance, cheating isn’t a good thing for a marriage. However, just like how it is in life which is full of ups and downs, every conflict in a relationship is a learning curve for partners. Sometimes only through a conflict, can you better understand your partner.
Getting the right support. Having a support system with selected close friends and family member is completely acceptable especially when you are in a vulnerable position. That being said, if you want to get advice about the situation of potential cheating it would best to get it from a neutral third-party. (Eg: a counsellor, a religious leader, etc). It is very likely that they would able to offer a much more less-biased way of looking at the situation, taking into consideration the nature of the whole relationship and advice on how a situation of a potential cheating can be dealt with.
Seek the right help. A marriage counsellor or therapist can better help you manage your emotional feelings. For example, marriage counselling can tremendously assist married couples to manage or deal with their problems in a more effective way while preventing any small issues from further developing. Taking the time to consult or confide in a therapist can do wonders for a broken marriage, as there is a place for the negativity to be vented out and in turn could help instil more positivity into the marriage.
Be prepared emotionally and mentally. Often times during a case of cheating, the partner would get defensive and sometimes belittle the accusations even after admitting to it. It is therefore important for the partner who’s approaching this matter to be firm, both emotionally and mentally prepared, so as to not sway easily. No one can disrespect you without your consent. Be sure to have a strong sense of self when addressing cheating accusations with your partner.
Choices. Decide if you want to stay married. Find out if your spouse wants to stay married. If you both want to save your marriage, then your marriage isn’t doomed. You both have a common goal. Of course, there are cases where the jilted spouse is unable to accept the mistake and move on. Also, it’s important to loop in your children. A divorce is never a win-win situation. Children do suffer when their parents split up. Either way, forgiveness is the key to recovery for both parties. Be present and open about your feelings – communicate!
Forgive. Never take revenge on your partner. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, does nobody any good. Vengeance does not solve the issue. Instead, it will amplify it. Undergoing cheating is already a problem by itself. Thus, to do the same to your partner would actually add unnecessary drama and worsen the situation. Be the better person and react in a matured way.