What do you do when you discover your spouse is cheating? Would you believe that not everyone immediately confronts the lying SOB and calls a lawyer
or a counselor? In fact, some spouses hide from the truth. They pretend to not know what they know. They think life can go on just as they thought it was. They are wrong.
In math equations, the expression on one side must always equal, or have the same value, as the expression on the other. There is a corollary in life: When you discover something, you are changed by it in a way that is equal to its significance.
I call this the Discovery and Change equation.
The details of the deception don’t matter as much as you might think. It really doesn’t matter if the deception is an extramarital affair or a secret addiction to alcohol or other substance, or a compulsive behavior such as gambling, or something else. What matters is that you have been living a lie just as much as your spouse has. You just didn’t know it.
Whether or not you choose to confront your spouse, you already know a terrible truth. Now you face a series of choices:
- Do you confront your spouse, and how?
- Do you want to know the truth?
- Do you want to repair the relationship?
- Do you know in your heart of hearts that your spouse is prone to dishonesty – lying when it is expedient or more convenient than the truth?
- What other lies have been told?
Because it is overwhelming to you to think about what this discovery means and what changes may occur once you confront your spouse, you may think you can ignore the situation.
But not talking about it is not the same as it not existing. It’s impossible to pretend to not know what you know.
You knows it is there. Your attitude and thoughts about your relationship are shaped by it. You may want to pretend to not see what you see, but you still see it.
Now your relationship is doubly harmed because now there are two lies. One is infidelity – your spouse’s not-so-secret cheating. The other is your pretending to not know.
Your attitude and thoughts about your relationship with yourself are equally shaped by your decisions. When you choose to confront your spouse, you are telling yourself:
- I matter.
- I respect myself.
- I honor my boundaries.
- I deserve a different kind of relationship than the one I am in right now.
Notice, I did not say you deserve to be in a relationship with a different person. Decisions about ending the infidelity and repairing the relationship come later. Those decisions require both of you to be in agreement. Outcomes such as your ability to weather the storm together, or the nature of the future relationship, are not foregone conclusions.
When you choose to preserve your spouse’s secret and enable the infidelity to continue, you are telling yourself:
- I do not matter.
- I am not worthy of respect by others.
- Others can do whatever they choose to do to me because I have no limits on the treatment that is acceptable to me.
- I deserve this relationship that I have right now.
Make no mistake, the two choices are equal. The first one comes with pain and preserves your self respect. The second one means you bear all of the pain and consequences of your spouse’s choices by yourself. You get the pain. Your spouse gets the pleasure.
The choice is yours. You can go on living two lies. All you have to do is acknowledge to yourself that is what you’re doing. The difference between confronting the truth and seeking change and hiding from the truth and allowing the infidelity to continue, is the difference between being true to yourself and your values and your boundaries, and not.
What kind of life do you want to live? The choice is yours.
Life Is Honest, Open and True
The Discovery and Change Equation comes with a choice. You can choose to continue living the lie, or you can choose to stand up for yourself because you know you matter and you deserve better. The choices have equal consequences.
What have you done when you’ve learned of a terrible deception in your most precious relationships? Have you stood up for yourself, or have you pretended the situation does not exist? What happened next? Stop by our Life is HOT blog Facebook Group and leave a comment or tweet me @LifeIsHOTBlog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!