An affair can tear a committed relationship apart. The betrayal can lead the wronged spouse to spend time mentally going over every event in the past, wondering how the affair works into the life they thought they were living. Even if the partners are able to reconcile, they may have to work hard to rebuild trust.
Deciding whether to leave the relationship or to work it out is a choice every couple must muddle through. The difficulties inherent in both breaking up or sticking it out leave the couple with a murky set of pros and cons.
When it comes to affairs, however, even defining what cheating is has become laced with a lot of gray. Couples can find their relationship in ruins without there being any physical contact with another person.
Many people joke about having a “work wife” or a “work husband,” but so much time is spent in the workplace that it is easy to become close to a coworker. A person may find that, without ever seeking out an affair, they have become closer to a person at work than they are to their spouse.
Likewise, the popularity of Internet, and particularly social media, for catching up with old friends or looking up an acquaintance, has made cyber cheating a new and serious threat to marriage and other committed relationships. While meeting up with an old flame used to require setting up a meeting place or at least obtaining a phone number, now a person can chat with a prior love interest with a few clicks.
This particular new threat can take place over email, social media or text messaging. While it can be hard to define the lines that determine a cyber-affair, many individuals consider flirting and sending suggestive photos over these types of communication to be cheating.
An article published on the online site Your Tango discusses the difficulties faced by those who are trying to recover from an affair, whether physical, emotional or cyber cheating. While the process can include both steps forward and discouraging setbacks, there are a few signs detailed in the article that can help a person determine whether it is safe to begin the healing process.
The article suggests that there are four main signs that a relationship is able to move forward. The first is that communication is, on the whole, more open than it is closed. The author encourages partners to think about conversations they have had in the past where they felt relaxed and unthreatened. They can compare these types of conversations to those that occurred that had a closed, shut-down feeling to them.
In noticing past conversations, the partners might think about the types of words and phrases, as well as body language and tone of voice that lent themselves to a safe environment with their spouse.
Second, a sign of moving forward is a high level of transparency. The person who cheated should be genuinely willing to allow access to email, phone histories and any other information. If there is resentment about this level of transparency in a committed relationship, it may be a sign that the couple is not yet ready to move on.
Third, the two partners should have awareness that they are both on the same team. This may be hard to define in exact terms, but some hallmarks of a team mentality in a marriage include listening respectfully and with interest to one another’s ideas, working together towards goals for the relationship and problem-solving for the good of the couple.
The fourth sign is tangible improvement in the relationship. While it can be easy for those involved to become fixated on the betrayal and the events of the past, moving forward means acknowledging good things that are happening in the present.