When faced with adultery, betrayal or other relationship hurdles, people react in different ways. Some shut down. Some run away. Some call Ricki Lake or Jerry Springer. No one can tell you what acts or events a relationship can overcome and which ones are deal-breakers. However, it is critical that, when faced with a devastating relationship event, you take responsibility and deal with, not hide from, the problem.
Talk to Yourself
Whether it was an affair or a big blowout fight, events that make you question the stability of your relationship must be thought out carefully.
Before making any decisions or diving into a deep discussion with your partner, take time to really think through the situation. How has the incident made you feel? What are you gut reactions as to whether the relationship can be salvaged? How has your view of your partner changed? What, if anything, can you do individually or as a couple to improve the situation?
Devastating relationship events can bring tremendous emotional responses, and you want to make sure you have taken the time to draw a distinction between knee-jerk feelings and your actual perceptions about the situation.
Talk to Others
It can feel extremely isolating when you’re wronged by your partner or when you experience a major shift in your primary relationship. Be sure to utilize your network of friends and family as a sounding board. You can share as little or as much about your situation as you are comfortable. Sometimes talking things through with a friend you respect can be an incredible help in gaining perspective. And, if you feel like you need a professional ear, don’t be afraid to see a counselor to help you sort through your reactions and emotions.
Talk to Your Partner
Whether the relationship is damaged or dead in the water, it is important that you talk to your partner about how you feel. If you are going to try and repair the situation, he or she needs to know how you feel and the specific things he or she did that made you feel that way. If the relationship is ending, it is still important that you take the time to talk to your partner and get closure.
The important thing is to realize that yelling and screaming are never productive. You can be assertive, but make sure you’ve taken that necessary “alone time” to clearly outline what you would like to say, then try your best to say it rationally. You deserve the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings and have the message received by your partner.
Look Beyond Action
Maybe your partner cheated. Maybe he or she lied about something. Maybe it was an outburst of anger that was inappropriate. Whatever threw your relationship off track, it is important to look behind the act itself. If you plan to discuss the issue and try to come up with solutions, take time to look not just at what your partner did, but also at why he or she did it. Was the outburst of anger because of tension unrelated to you? Did he or she lie about something to avoid a fight or a sensitive issue being brought up? If you are going to resolve the situation and stop the inappropriate behavior, you must discuss openly and honestly the reasons that it happened.
Know When to Move On
If your partner’s actions have affected you in a negative way and your relationship is on the rocks, the only way to improve the situation is to work together and create a plan. If your partner is unable or unwilling to help you heal the problems, then you should seriously consider moving on. People often ask how one knows when it is time to move on. Here are some key signs:
- You feel that your relationship and the situation is too tainted and, even after trying to come up with solutions with your partner, you see no hope or chance of reviving the situation.
- You are experiencing emotional or physical harm that is making your life feel unbalanced and unhealthy.
- You are extremely unhappy in your situation and you and/or your partner are unwilling to make a commitment to improve the situation. Only you and your partner can decide what pitfalls your relationship can survive. Regardless, make sure you deal with the situation responsibly and in a mature manner.