It’s a difficult prospect to think that your spouse may have strayed from your marriage. Most people find this shocking and upsetting, not knowing what to do (and what not to do) if your spouse is cheating. It’s hard to decide at that moment about your marriage, whether to divorce, what comes next. Upon finding out, there is often that initial feeling in the pit of your stomach, followed by an urge to deny that this could be possible. As upsetting as this is, one thing to understand is that “knowledge is power.” The best way to proceed in a case like this is to take a step back, take a deep breath and educate yourself about your options before taking any steps or jumping to any conclusions.
Here are a few points to consider when you find out that your spouse may be in a relationship outside of the marriage:
What To Do (and Not Do) If Your Spouse Is Cheating
- Do not listen to family and friends advice. This is YOUR family and YOUR marriage. No matter how “fair” someone is, or how neutral they try to be, your family and friends may not be the best sounding board in this situation. Your family and friends may be as emotional – or more emotional – than you about the situation. They want to protect you and will be ready to give you legal advice but often, are not qualified to do that.
- Consider individual therapy. It is very difficult for people to sort out their feelings when this happens. Most people need support. Your family and friends are often involved. It’s good to have support from someone who can remain neutral and provide a place for you to talk and sort things out.
- Consider seeing an attorney right away. As I’ve already said – knowledge is power. Often we feel panicked when we find out something shocking like this. You may feel angry, hurt and in shock. How could she/he? What will I do? How will I pay for things? What about my kids? Will adultery/affair make a difference when we divorce? Can this person walk into my life and take over? Seeing an attorney and learning a potential map for the future often makes people feel less panicked and more in control of their future.
- Don’t go ballistic. It makes it worse. Getting even with someone is not the answer and does not bring about any solutions.
- Do NOT involve the children – AT ALL. They are not in this situation and they love their parent. Do not inform them of the situation. Do not use them against the other parent. Do not deny parenting because of this situation. The children need not be involved.
- Do not try to be Magnum PI. If you feel the need to have your spouse under surveillance, speak to an attorney about the cost/benefit of hiring an investigator and determine if it is necessary and useful in your case. Often the cost/benefit doesn’t make sense, but at times, this information can be useful. You can also see our article Cheating Spouse.
- Confrontations will only lead to more problems. The first thing you may want to do is approach this person and find out why they broke up your marriage. Don’t do it. You may find yourself engaged in a legal matter of a different sort (criminal) in that event. Remember that stalking and harassment are both crimes,
- Take a step back and allow your attorney to do the negotiating, both before and after a complaint may be filed. You’re emotional and involved but certainly, not in the right frame of mind to work out these details.
- Do not be afraid to try and repair the marriage if you feel you can. Bottom line – it’s YOUR life and YOUR marriage. After all is said and done, if you want to repair your marriage, take steps to do that and work toward reconciliation (though even in this situation, I refer you back to step #3 to protect yourself during the reconciliation period).
- Don’t blame yourself – Regardless of the problems you may have in your marriage (and we all have some type of problems), nobody forces another person to cheat. This is another reason for you to consider speaking with an individual therapist and contacting an attorney sooner than later. Getting caught in the guilt game will only harm you.
This is never as simple as a list may try to make it. It’s a rough time in your life and typically, a blow like this is hard to overcome. Take time for yourself emotionally, but also take time practically to protect yourself and secure your future. There are steps you can take to make it easier for yourself financially. Call me to discuss your case at: 978.225.0661 or 603.373.0545. You may also email me in confidence.