Counseling and Reconciliation After You’ve Caught Your Spouse Cheating
Counseling and Reconciliation Before Filing a Tennessee Divorce. Part 2 of a 3 part monthly series on Cheating.
Picking up the Pieces: What to do After You’ve Found Your Spouse Has Been Cheating
There aren’t many things worse than discovering that your spouse has had an affair during your marriage. There are ways to find out if your spouse has been cheating (see The Cheating Heart: How to Figure Out if Your Spouse is Cheating.) The next step is thinking about what you should do. Do you attempt to reconcile with him? Your first reaction may be to get a divorce and to hire a divorce lawyer right away. For some people, this will be their course of action and it’s understandable. Surprisingly, most people choose to stay with their spouse and try to work it out in one way or another.
The problem with reconciling is there is usually a lot of anger and resentment by the victimized spouse, and many times the cheating spouse refuses to apologize or admit to the infidelity. For the sake of clarity, the cheating spouse will be referred to as “he” or “him,” but statistics show that nearly as many women cheat as men. However, statistics also show that men are more likely to be repeat offenders.
There are all types of reactions that a wife may have and actions she can take if her husband has been cheating on her. The question, of course, is what is best for you, your family, and your relationship. You may feel like doing something horrible to your husband, but of course you are smart enough to know you can’t do anything no matter how much you’d like to. The following are some courses of action and how some couples dealt with infidelity.
Consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer
If you are the victim of infidelity, you may want to get advice about what would happen in the event of a divorce. Divorce isn’t just the end of a marriage; it is a division of property and could include issues of child custody, child support, and alimony along with property division. You will want to discuss the fact that your spouse was cheating to find out if it has any impact on a divorce in your situation.
Consulting with a good divorce lawyer is a good idea for several reasons. First, you should be able to make an informed and intelligent choice about reconciliation versus divorce. Additionally, it’s wise to protect yourself legally. For example, one of the defenses to adultery in Tennessee is called condonation, which means forgiving the offender as if the offense had not happened. If you reconcile with your spouse, that means you are knowingly forgiving him; you also are allowing your husband to raise condonation as a defense if you file for a divorce based on adultery at a later date. This means that you will have forgiven him with full knowledge of what he did.
You should know your rights before you decide to reconcile. It’s wise to get advice about how to protect yourself in the future, even if you aren’t interested in pursuing anything at the moment. Experienced family lawyers are quite familiar with these issues and have discussed this many times with their clients.
Get tested for STDs
After discovering that your spouse has had an affair, the smart thing to do is to get tested for STDs, especially for peace of mind. You know he’s had one affair, but you don’t know if he’s had others. Additionally, you don’t know who his then-lover has been exposed to, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor and get tested. Don’t be embarrassed by this — doctors are used to this type of testing and they see it all the time.
Before seeing a marriage counselor, work on certain issues
Seeing a marriage counselor is helpful in some instances, but it won’t help if you have to drag your husband to the counselor. Forcing him to go generally will not improve the relationship. In fact, unless you have worked on your relationship in a few key ways, marriage counseling may not work at all. Here are some actions that some counselors suggest before engaging in marriage counseling:
- See if your husband will admit to the affair and apologize for it. Many cheating spouses refuse to admit to it and will not apologize for it. For your marriage to work, he is going to have to make it up to you in some way. An apology is the first thing he should do if you ever want to repair this relationship. Without the apology, you’re going to feel like he has no remorse, and that’s because he probably doesn’t have it at this time. His only remorse may have been getting caught. Make sure he apologizes for what he’s done, not just for getting caught.
- He must end the relationship with his lover. He must do that to reconcile with you or your relationship will never be the same. In fact, if he does end the relationship, it is advisable for him to make the lover inaccessible to him. That means, and counselors have advised, that if he works with her, he might need to find a new job; if she lives nearby, you might want to think about moving or find out if she is going to move. Think of the song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” — leaving her can be done, and it should be done, otherwise you will never trust him again. If he had computer access to her, he should stop using the Internet for a while. This is a matter of rebuilding trust. If you want to trust him again, he is going to have to change his lying and sneaking around behavior. The distance he puts between the lover and him is necessary or your trust is never going to be restored.
- He is going to have to avoid things that made an extramarital relationship easy. For example, if he goes places without you, perhaps he may allow you to accompany him. If he found her at the gym, then he should go to a different gym and you should try to take an interest in working out. In other words, he should avoid the types of situations or places where it made it easy to cheat. You don’t want him to be a repeat offender.
- Here is something you can work on with the marriage counselor. If you are the wife, don’t feel like it’s all your fault or all his fault. It takes two people to make a marriage, and there was a “disconnect” somewhere. You both have work to do to repair your marriage. Did he have a problem expressing what he wanted and needed from you? Were your devoting most of your time to work or to the children, and was he feeling ignored? Was there a change in the emotional attachment and/or sexual relationship between you? These are questions for you to explore.
- If you don’t want to see a marriage counselor, there may be couples groups at the local church, hospital or community center; there are books that you can both read; there are classes you can take together.
- Try spending as much free time as you can together, and that means without the children or without other things interfering. You should both try to make yourselves available emotionally and sexually to each other. This does not mean just taking a vacation. While a vacation will help, it won’t help to come back to the same old routine. Create a new routine where you have a regular date night or spend a certain amount of quality time with each other.
- If you are the wife and you can’t get over his infidelity, you may need to seek individual therapy for yourself, especially if it is difficult to remove the hurtful images from your mind.
How some couples handled infidelity
Not everyone handles infidelity the same. Here are some scenarios which show how some couples reacted to it. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
- Living in Tipton County, Tennessee, Daria and Phil were married for about fourteen years and had two children. Daria worked part-time and Phil worked full-time. The children were grown and Daria had a lot of time on her hands. She had an affair and Phil discovered it. They reconciled and are still together, but not without one stipulation — Phil asked Daria to go to their local house of worship and get “cleansed,” which she agreed to do. The ritual in their house of worship is similar to a baptism but has different origins and reasons. Phil reconciled with her after the “cleansing.”
- Sam and Jenny were married for about ten years and had three children living in Germantown, Tennessee. Sam had an affair and Jenny discovered it. Sam was so remorseful he agreed to whatever Jenny wanted to keep the marriage intact. Unfortunately, Jenny never got over Sam’s unfaithfulness, never had counseling, and the couple never had sex again. They became more connected to each other, but not sexually; this complete lack of sex lasted for the duration of their marriage. Sam died thirty years later. While this scenario is extreme and generally is not what happens in marriages where there is infidelity, this is a true story.
- Robert and Maria were married for thirteen years and had two children in Collierville. Maria had an affair earlier in their marriage but Robert never found out. She had another affair after being married for thirteen years. The affair lasted ten months. Robert never found out. Maria felt guilty and ended the affair but did not reconcile with Robert. Instead, she filed for divorce, feeling she had found that something was missing in her marriage. Even if her lover was not going to be in her future, she knew there was no going back to what she had with Robert.
The decision to either save the marriage or to move on is strictly a personal one. Nobody can tell you how to handle it or what to do. What’s right in your situation may not be right in someone else’s. If in doubt, you might want to consider speaking with a therapist, hiring a divorce lawyer, or both.
- How to Catch a Cheating Spouse: Interview with Memphis Divorce Lawyer Miles Mason, Sr.
- Memphis Tennessee Marriage & Divorce Counselors & Therapists Directory
- How Much Can An Extramarital Affair Cost Under Tennessee Divorce Laws?
- 10 Infidelity Signs: Memphis Divorce Lawyer Shares Possible Signs of Cheating
- Electronic Spying in Tennessee Divorce Laws
- Your First Steps: 7 Steps Planning Your Tennessee Divorce
The Miles Mason Family Law Group handles Tennessee divorce, child support, alimony, child custody, and parent relocation. Miles Mason, Sr. authored The Tennessee Divorce Client’s Handbook: What Every Divorcing Spouse Needs to Know, available on Amazon and Kindle.. A Memphis divorce lawyer from the Miles Mason Family Law Group can help. To schedule your confidential consultation, call us today at (901) 683-1850.