Dr. Robi Ludwig has counseled many couples who've experienced infidelity. She says it's important to understand that all relationships are different, but some advice is universal.
The Blame Game
The tendency after an affair is for a woman to blame herself. Look at it objectively: Infidelity is not necessarily a failure in the marriage. "Cheating is a behavioral communication," Dr. Ludwig says. "For every man, it may be slightly different. You need to understand what was his motive."
Finding Your Ground
Would you want to know the details of the affair? Dr. Ludwig thinks that information is important for coping. "You go into a marriage thinking you know who you're marrying. Part of [coping with infidelity] is filling in the gaps, in some regard, so you're less disoriented and help yourself get over the trauma."
It's Not About "Her"
Was she cute? Did she have long legs? Cheating is not about that; otherwise, every beautiful woman would have a faithful man! "It's about how a man feels about himself. The affair is like a vanity mirror, because they love how it makes them feel. The way they experience marriage is like a makeup mirror where all their flaws are shown, and they feel they can't be who they want to be."
Creating a Safe Relationship
Trying to forgive and forget is virtually impossible, especially the latter of the two. Time and communication are key. "Whoever had the affair must understand the impact that their behavior and impulsiveness had on the other person," Dr. Ludwig says. If the partner who strayed is still invested in the relationship, patience must be their biggest virtue.
Published on September 22, 2003