How to Handle Infidelity in a Marriage

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By: Dr. Brenda Shoshanna

In every marriage there are times when the partners are tested and required to stop and re-define their relationship, decide what they need from one another and what they can and cannot provide. Infidelity is one of the largest causes of pain in a marriage. Here are some steps to handling it.

1) Infidelity
Infidelity and the threat of it, is the largest single issue that threatens marriages. A basis of all healthy marriage is the ability to trust. It is not only the sexual betrayal but the lies that accompany infidelity that are so devastating. This break of trust need not be fatal; if both parties truly wish to do so it can be repaired. It takes time, patience, wisdom and true dedication for this process to work.

First, it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge what has happened. No step forward can be taken without honesty. The individual who has strayed must be clear about what has gone on. This does not mean they are to be punished or blamed, but must be accountable, taking responsibility for their actions.

Next it is crucial to find out the deeper reasons in the relationship that caused this to take place. What has been lacking? Have there been hidden resentments? What does the marriage need, right now? If both individuals are willing to confront the issues, to open communication, be honest, respectful and patient, the marriage can emerge even stronger than before.

2) Online Relationships: Emotional Infidelity
The question of infidelity has become much broader now, as individuals great access to others through the internet. Many husbands often satisfy their wish for other relationships or for fantasy and adventure through activities online. When we do not see or have to interact with another in person, there is comfortable distance and so individiuals often feel they can easily exchange intimacies. Before they know it, excitement, attachment or dependency arises and interferes with their marriage. Demands made upon one another can be handled easily through a few words. This stimulates a hotbed of fantasy and it becomes easy to feel one has someone in their life who cares and is there for them.

This is a dangerous area to go into. To protect the well-being of your marriage, stay away from it. Realize it is a temptation to enter into fantasy and make your primary relationship at home seem less important to you. There is a thin line here and it is crossed easily. Define and set boundaries for your emotions and needs.

3) Online Porn:
Unfortunately, due to its easy accessibility, many married men are found engaging in online porn. They visit these sites regularly and when their wives find out they are often devastated by it. The wives feel utterly betrayed, threatened and as though they have not been good enough and are not attractive to their husbands. They feel humiliated. Sometimes they discover the online porn because their husbands sexual desire for them has decreased and their lovemaking is much less frequent.

Online porn can become and often is an addiction. It can be much harder to break than one first realizes.. This kind of addiction does not necessarily arise because the husband feels that his wife is undesirable, but because it is so much easier to relate in a fantasy mode than with a real flesh and blood person. In fantasy, one does not have to meet the needs of the other, they do not have to prove themselves in anyway. These fantasy situations can also provide all kinds of highs and excitement that a real flesh and blood relationship is not able to offer anymore. For some men, after being addicted to online porn it is boring or difficult to have that much sexual interest in their wives any longer. This can become a serious problem which requires professional help.

In these cases, it is necessary to let your husband know that this behavior is unacceptable, that it is unhealthy, bad for your self respect and sense of self esteem. Boundaries have to be firmly set here. Many men minimize their involvement with online porn, and do not realize the consequences this activity is having and what a threat it is to their marriage. Awareness must be brought to this situation. Even though the man minimizes it, the woman must hold onto her own reality and need for respect. She must not deny the way you she is feeling, but see to it that professional help is sought if he cannot stop by himself.

It is always better to do this sooner than later. The longer an addiction grows the harder it can be to let go of. It is important to recognize these threats to your marriage for what they are, not blame yourself for them or brush them under the table, but to face the issues directly in a constructive and hopeful way. Let your partner know that together you can find a solution that works for both of you. Blaming the self or blaming the other is never helpful and leads nowhere. Acceptance, communication and understanding, however, always go a long way. Needless to say, both must be willing to work on this together. If the partner is not willing to deal with it, then the woman should seek help for herself in making constructive choices for her own life.

All marriages go through challenges. Whether these challenges destroy your relationship or make it stronger, is up to both of you. It takes two to make this commitment, however. One person cannot do it alone.

Discover the surprising truths about love that will turn around your relationship in Save Your Relationship (21 Basic Laws of Successful Relationships), Top psychologist, mediator and relationship expert, founder of Everyone Wins Mediation, has helped thousands resolve conflicts, find new options and re-design their relationships. Find her at, (212) 288-0028,,



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