The emotional impact of infidelity often paralyzes the mind and makes it difficult to think clearly and make wise decisions about what steps to take next. This is why processing infidelity is crucial to any efforts toward moving forward. Failing to process infidelity robs you from the chance to learn from the mistakes that were made in this relationship which contributed to the affair. This is the point in which I emphasize the controversial fact that affairs are not the sole responsibility of the unfaithful, even though they are the ones who made the conscious choice of cheating.
This notion is very unpopular because, at face value, it can be seen as blaming the betrayed for the act of infidelity. But, I will tell you the same thing I tell all my clients: there is nothing that can justify, or excuse, acts of infidelity, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the factors that paved the road for making this mistake possible.
Outlining those factors doesn’t take the unfaithful off the hook for being responsible for their conscious actions; it simply provides an explanation for the inappropriate behavior versus sanctioning and excusing that behavior. Bottom line, the unfaithful and the betrayed both played a part in allowing the relationship to deteriorate to the critical point of infidelity. That responsibility ranges from acting inappropriately to fulfill real, or imagined, unmet needs to failing to recognize and address the warning signs that the relationship was in need of serious help.
So, what happens when couples fail to process infidelity? People end up making poor decisions.
Here are the most common poor decisions caused by failing to process the acts of infidelity:
The main motivation in this scenario is to avoid undertaking the hard and painful process of healing from infidelity. Some people will decide to end the relationship on the spot without fully processing what happened.Ending the relationship on the spot by either the unfaithful or the betrayed can be appealing because it appeases your ego and prevents you from having to deal with some of the ugly and painful truths that brought you to this point. Running away also gives you the false sense of security that you are protecting yourself from the painful consequences of infidelity.
The reason why this is a bad choice is because of the simple fact that avoiding to process the acts of infidelity is really just you putting blinders on to avoid seeing the serious problems that you need to fix within yourself in order for you to prevent finding yourself in a similar situation in the future, whether in this relationship or new ones. Not only that, but most importantly you could be missing out on the possibility of rebuilding your current relationship and making it even stronger than it was before. It’s like opting to remove a salvageable molar instead of doing a necessary yet painful root canal to save it.
This is another common mistake. Here the unfaithful or the betrayed try to skip or rush certain steps of the healing process to minimize the pain and challenges associated with healing. A classic example of this is forgiving the unfaithful without understanding why they cheated and without seeing any proof of that person fixing the circumstances that led to the affair. Another example is minimizing the true impact of the act of infidelity to convince oneself and partner to sweep it under the rug to avoid taking responsibility and working to make the necessary changes to prevent future incidents. This is a poor choice because cutting corners does not fix the problem; it just provides a temporary band-aid that will assure that the contributing factors to the affair stay hidden yet active and unaddressed. It’s like having a mold problem on your walls, and deciding to paint over it instead of scraping it off and treating your walls.
Not Doing Anything
This decision is usually the byproduct of fear to act accompanied with the lack of knowledge on how to proceed. Here, one or both partners are aware of the infidelity and its impact on the relationship but are not sure how to proceed or are afraid to do something about it. So the main strategy in this option is the old idea of, “let’s ignore it and hope it goes away.” People find themselves at this juncture when they don’t like the options in front of them that will allow them to deal with the problem. In other words, sometimes, when people are faced with equally difficult or unpleasant choices, they get stuck because they don’t know which route to take because they don’t like any of their options.
This may sound silly because you are probably wondering why people would do such an illogical thing. Well because it gives the illusion that not making a choice will delay the difficulties associated with those choices. What people are forgetting is the fact that avoiding to act does not guarantee that you avoid the consequence, even though it might delay it for a bit. Because, if you don’t make a choice, things will deteriorate further to a point in which you won’t even have the luxury of choosing one of those unpleasant options in front of you. So, wouldn’t you rather be in control of your own destiny despite the lack of appeal in your choices? I know I would.Published in