Dear Dr. Buckingham,
My name is AJ. I have been married to my husband for 2 years, we have been together for 8. I recently found out that he cheated on me with two different women during the time we were dating. He swears he did not cheat while we have been married. I’m devastated by this. I feel like our whole relationship and marriage is a sham. I want to work this out though. We have a newborn, and before I found this out, we had never been happier. I’m not sure what to do, or how to feel. How do we work this out? What should I do? A few people have said that since he didn’t cheat while we were married that I shouldn’t feel so bad. But I do. Any direction here would be great. I feel utterly lost.
Thanks so much for your time, AJ
Cheating is one of the most difficult relationship challenges to cope with and recover from because it creates doubt and violates one of the most important core values that is needed to have a healthy relationship, which is trust. However, I encourage you to not allow past drama or distress to rob you of a happy and blissful future. You said, “I want to work this out though. Before I found out, we had never been happier.” With this in mind, I recommend that you focus on the positive aspects of your marriage because you cannot move forward looking backwards. I am not suggesting that you ignore how you feel or minimize your husband’s behavior. Feeling lost, devastated and confused are normal emotions considering what you are dealing with. The best thing that you can do to work this out and to heal properly is to give yourself time to process your emotions. Processing your emotions means that you should talk through them with your husband in a healthy manner and avoid trying to make him feel guilty. Also, remember that feeling bad is okay as long as you do not act badly. Emotions drive behavior so it is important to learn to understand and share them in a positive manner.
Be careful of what you tell yourself and monitor your mental filter. Mental filtering occurs when an individual selects a single negative experience and dwell on it exclusively until his or her view of reality is clouded. Despite the fact that you have probably had some good times, you have decided to view your entire relationship negatively. For example, your husband cheated and you stated, “I feel like the whole relationship and marriage is a sham.” This statement is negative and can contribute to negative behavior.
As you work through your challenge, remember that adversity builds resiliency, and resiliency is a precursor to success. Sometimes you will go through things in your relationship in order to mature and grow. This is your opportunity to grow. Develop a behavioral contract with your husband, agree to specific behavioral changes and reward each other for meeting specific goals.
Best Regards, Dr. Buckingham
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.