If you are reading this, I bet your ex cheated.
I remember lying in a yoga class during savasana with tears streaming down my face. My husband had a girlfriend and he had no intention of giving her up. According to him, it was my fault that he strayed. My brain was telling me that I wasn’t a good enough wife, lover, mother, and partner.
High-conflict divorce and infidelity
I have no intention of getting deep into the weeds of psychology on this issue. I would just like to report what I observe about infidelity and the high-conflict divorce battle.
- the high-conflict party has almost always engaged in infidelity during the relationship
- this party takes no responsibility for his/her infidelity and often shifts the blame to you
- there may be no remorse by the unfaithful party
- there may be episodes of multiple episodes
- they do not practice safe sex and may expose you (ew!)
This has nothing to do with you
Despite attempts to either deny, hide or blame you for these choices, I really believe that the cheating has nothing to do with you.
Having lived it, I understand how this all may make you feel. The best emotion word to describe it would be INADEQUATE.
It is really easy to wonder what you did wrong for your spouse to want to stray. Am I not pretty enough, sexy enough, smart enough, rich enough? Especially if you have endured years of gaslighting and demeaning behaviour.
Step 1: Manage your own safety
If your ex was unfaithful, I can pretty much guarantee that there was little attention to safe sex. Go get yourself tested for STDs.
I remember when my bestie Melissa told me to do this. She is a physician and is really good at separating the facts from the emotion. She handed me a list and sent me to my doctor.
This turned out to be a great exercise in my evolution. I could have shown up at my doc with shame, but I channelled my inner Brene Brown and decided that shame was not necessary. It wasn’t me who cheated. I boldly marched in and declared that my husband was unfaithful and I could have been exposed. Can I please be tested for all STDs including chlamydia and AIDS? TMI?
Step 2: Step away from the drama
If your partner cheats – that is not on you. Staying in a relationship with a cheating partner is on you. This is not to say that couples can’t reconcile after infidelity – they can and they do. But, if this is just part of a pattern of abusive behaviour that you are being exposed to, it is time to step away.
Step 3: Relinquish responsibility
You don’t have to believe that your inadequacies caused your ex to cheat. You can believe that it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with your ex.
This is going to take some brain rewiring and practice. Here are some of the thoughts that I used in my recovery:
- I am a peach. Not everyone likes peaches
- this has nothing to do with me
- I was all in on my marriage
- this is all part of his pathology
- I showed up as the wife and mother in the way I wanted to
It won’t be the ex’s happily ever after
If you feel sad that your ex replaced you so readily with someone else, just remember that this honeymoon phase is temporary. The narcissistic ex will eventually devalue their new love interest and that relationship will likely implode. If anything, you have to feel sorry for the replacement partner. Nothing good is coming their way.
Your ex cheated. The sky is blue. Of course s/he did. Focus on your own recovery…so much good coming your way!