How Do You Handle Infidelity?
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: What do you do if you find out that your spouse is cheating? How should you confront your spouse? Do you assess the degree of infidelity and try to save your marriage? Do you hire a lawyer right away to discuss your options? How does this change if you have children?
Caroline's Ruling: First and foremost, I would advise anyone in this predicament to stay calm and resist the urge to react before assessing the situation.
Get your facts straight and make sure you have sufficient evidence to back your claim up. Part of the assessment has to be the relationship between you and your partner. Be brutally honest with yourself as you analyze it. Was there a breakdown somewhere, and if so, did you have a part in it? Were you aware of issues in the relationship? Did you try to work them out, or did you ignore and assume they'd go away?
As the old saying goes, there are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. I'm not suggesting that this gives license to cheat; any form of betrayal is wrong, and I would imagine infidelity has to be a very bitter pill to swallow. The simple sad fact is that sometimes the truth hurts and can be difficult to accept.
If you feel that you want to work on the relationship and try to forgive and forget, confronting your spouse with rage probably isn't your best option. I would imagine that would only cause your partner to go into defensive mode, and chances are the situation would escalate into a screaming match that can only end badly.
Try to at least sit down and discuss the issue as calmly as your emotions would allow considering the circumstances. Listen to what they say and ask the question, “What led you to do this?” You need to understand the how and the why in order to repair the damage and move forward.
I would suggest hiring a lawyer if you've decided to end the relationship. Over the years I've witnessed the nicest people turn into vipers when it came to dividing the assets in divorce. You need to protect your interests, and a good attorney will do just that. This is especially important if you have children that need to be provided for.
One big mistake I've seen time and again is couples staying together for the sake of the children. Children are much smarter than you think. They can see, they can hear, and they can sense when there is a problem. Remember, we learn what we live. A hostile, loveless environment is not a healthy place to grow. It is your responsibility as a parent to provide a home and atmosphere that is nurturing, not traumatic.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if life were like a fairy tale? We find that perfect person and are guaranteed to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that just isn't the case.
Things happen; some we can control, and some we can't. Sometimes we have to accept blame and responsibility, and sometimes we're innocent victims. I'm going to share with you something I've taught each of my children: You should never have to beg someone to love you. It may be hard to walk away, but staying in a one-sided relationship will never bring you peace and happiness. If nothing else in this world, I think we all deserve that, don't you?
From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco