Even though we discuss stages of grief, like those listed in the previous post, as if they occur one after another, processing the grief associated with a cheating spouse does not occur in a linear fashion. It jumps back and forth through the grief stages and can change from day to day.
While the grieving process goes on, messages and external influences occupy our minds much of the time and need to be worked through. Some of the messages include:
- Do I want this relationship?
- Is this relationship worth fighting for?
- Do I cheat to get even?
- Am I willing to be in a relationship with an unfaithful partner?
- Do I fight or just give in?
- Can I ever have trust and safety in this relationship again?
Each of these messages has many feelings attached, and working through each of these feelings is important to reach true resolution. Many people tend to see some of the feelings, then either settle back into what is familiar or run from the feelings by creating change that may or may not be positive.When spouses decide they want to work on the relationship and make it a healthy one again, they need to put steps in place to re-establish trust in the relationship. Some steps worth exploring include:
- What is important and what does this relationship mean to me?
- What obstacles created the distance in the relationship?
- Explore limitations to open communications.
- Communicate what is and what is not acceptable in the relationship.
- Explore and honor each other’s true feelings.
- Allow actions to speak louder than words in the relationship.
- Give yourselves permission to trust again.
- Relearn how to have fun with each other.
The next post will look at these steps in more detail.