Life and relationship coach Donna Barnes, author of Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships, says that sometimes cheating is the best thing that ever happened to a couple. Sound crazy? It’s not. Donna has helped couples get through the storm after a partner cheated—and says it doesn’t automatically mean the relationship is over.
She says in order to start the process of forgiving, there is a certain way you have to approach the cheating conversation. It takes a mature person to follow her advice, but if you think big picture, you’ll come out the other side, so matter if you stay or if you leave.
“I always think calmly and without drama, prepare what to say before you have the conversation letting them know you know,” Donna says. “Vent to a friend before the spouse. Prepare them for the talk, say ‘we need to talk’ and set a time, ‘can we sit down and talk on Saturday morning?’ If they are cheating they’re going to be like ‘oh no.’”
Donna says most of the time, they know what the talk is going to be about.
“Then say I want this to be calm, try not to get into it (fighting) don’t go off the cuff, you’ll be more emotional. Make time to process it. If you have proof sit them down calmly.”
Start with how you feel using “I” statements, she advises.
“Nothing is ever about what the other person is doing wrong, it’s always how you feel about it,” she says. “Say ‘I feel like’ you’ve been having an affair, don’t accuse. It’s about how you feel. Explain you’re hurt, insecure, sad, angry. The more specific you can be about how it makes you feel, the better.”
Donna says cheating doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t love you.
“If your partner does love you, the person being cheated on, remember anxiety causes people to do things completely out of character. Love can be anxiety. Some people think it’s easier to find someone to get along with than someone who you’re passionate about but doesn’t make you calm.”
Next you have to decide what you want—save and fix it or are you done?
Cheaters who want to leave usually want to get caught subconsciously, she says, like one man she’s counseled who is having an affair and dropping hints so his wife divorces him.
“Sometimes cheating wakes a partner up,” she says.
But another woman whose longterm live in boyfriend was caught having an affair, wants to save the relationship.
“She recognized that she was working a lot,” Donna says.
In the end, she says make up your mind—forgive or get out.
“You need to have an intention then live in a way to inspire what you want,” she says.
The reason for most affairs is that something is missing, and someone is “escaping.”
“Trust your instincts they are usually right,” Donna says. “You need to find out what the other person wants, then you can really have a breakthrough. Some couples have the best conversation ever when they were breaking up. Going forward, if you stay together, it’s the point when you were finally honest. Come from a vulnerable place, say ‘hey I love you, I don’t know what to do. People want people to say ‘I love you.’”
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