Ideally, marriage is a commitment between two people who pledge love and devotion to each other for all eternity. It is the union of best friends, soul mates and lovers all rolled into one. Events over the last several weeks surrounding the Ashley Madison saga has certainly shaken up many households. The realization that your spouse was so hell bent on cheating that they actually paid money and gave up their credit card information all in the hopes that they could quietly get some action on the side must be numbing to those affected. How do couples move on and right the course of their relationship after such a bombshell? This is not a time for blame or punitive actions. The cheater's slogan, "Life is short, so have an affair" no longer holds water. It is time to recalibrate one's outlook and slogan. "Life is short, so have the integrity to come clean with your spouse."
There are many reasons why people break their marital vows. The acceptability of cheating can be a learned behavior. If one was raised in a household where the model was that a parent cheated and the other parent turned a blind eye, you may have a scenario of monkey see, monkey do. In this case, bad patterns need to be broken through individual and couples counseling. By gaining the necessary tools and insights to understand past and present behaviors, the couple that takes this path has a high likelihood for successfully staying together.
The core to a long lasting relationship is communication. Many times a perceived need or want arises because there is a void that is longing to be filled. Needs can be both emotional and physical. It is central in a connected union to be able to lean on each other in good times and bad and have each other's backs. It is equally important to have a sex life. When intimacy is lacking in a marriage, connectedness is lacking as well. Most often, the spouse that is desirous, feels that the disengaged spouse is not attentive to their needs. Couples counseling is key to bridging the gaps of understanding and helping to encourage not just listening to one another, but truly hearing and implementing the needed changes. This process affords realistic hope towards a better union.
We are who we are, but a personality can be tweaked. Many times those who cheat possess the traits of always looking for bigger, better and different. They enjoy the adrenalin rush that comes with getting away with something, and are not overly concerned with getting caught or the ramifications therein. This is a more complicated situation, but there is still hope for a solution to try and save this marriage. The willingness to participate in individual counseling is a must for both partners. The spouse who is cheating, needs to come face to face with the greater reality of the impact of their behavior on all parties within their circle. Even if they internalize a small portion of what is said in therapy, it is a step in the right direction. The scorned spouse needs to understand why they were attracted to the aforementioned personality to begin with. The cheating spouse most probably has demonstrated callous and indifferent behavior patterns to others, not just singularly to their mate, so there have been many examples of entitled acts over the years. After guided introspection, the two should come together as a couple to see if they are truly invested in saving their marriage.
Admittedly, cheating is much more accessible via the Internet, but adultery has been going on since the beginning of time. When infidelity is revealed in a marriage, often there are many layers to the problem. Before dialing a divorce attorney, both partners need to take stock of their contribution to the current state of the relationship. Solutions can be attained through the help of a professional, whether this is via a therapist, support group, or clergy. Although family members and close friends may be helpful, the point of view of someone with expertise is paramount. The couple is at a fork in the road where they can either choose to dissolve the marriage or begin, through counseling to rebuild and reconnect. It can be a long and arduous road of opening up wounds and verbalizing what has not be addressed in years, but trust and love can be renewed for those who want to put in the time and effort to do so.