If you found out that your partner cheated on you, you may want to try and keep the relationship going, in spite of what happened. Here's what you need to know in order to heal your relationship:
"I was happy in my marriage, until I found out that my husband had been cheating on me for a really long time"
Everybody has a different level of how much they are willing to put up with. But if your partner has been cheating on you, especially over a long period of time, then this can feel like a violation of a commitment that was established by you as a couple when you married. But the point is: In every marriage, the commitment that you want your partner to keep will be violated. This commitment, that almost everybody wants in a relationship, is: "I want you to promise to put me first, no matter what." And this is a commitment that no one keeps.
We are not born to put our partner first
In order to lead a happy marriage, your vows should be something like: "As much as I love you, there is someone who comes first before you, and that person is me." This is what your commitment should be to. You can give your partner as much as you can, but give him or her the fullness of you, not the separated you. You will then be a couple in which both partners are devoted to make themselves happy first, and by this giving the other the gift of living with someone who loves himself more than anybody else.
How can a marriage work like this?
How this will play out for you is: You will not need or demand from your partner to behave in a certain way in order to make you happy. Your happiness will depend on the way you treat yourself. Sometimes partners feel betrayed when the other just thinks of someone else. Or the feeling of betrayal can come up when a partner does not get the undivided attention.
There are many "degrees" of cheating on a partner
In any case, all cheating means, that your partner has taken his or her attention away and put it on someone else. This can be a reason to leave the relationship, but your feeling of self worth should not be affected by that. You should not depend on the attention of your partner to feel loved and valued. Maybe your partner and you agreed on always being faithful towards each other and now you are disappointed and sad. But you should develop an attitude which is something like being an "uncheatable person".
How marriage counselling can help:
If your partner cheated on you and you can develop a mindset which is "I am stable. And my self respect and my sense of wellbeing is not dependant upon your behaviour", then you can decide to stay in the relationship and feel good. But if your self respect depends upon the way your partner treats you, then your self respect will be left heavily damaged by the cheating. And in this case, staying in the relationship will make you feel even worse, as it will add to your lack of self respect. Marriage counselling can help couples to clarify what they want and define their goals for the future relationship, so that both are clear about the direction it should take. And it can help each partner as an individual to build self respect and self love, which is the base of every happy relationship.
Continue reading: How to start couples counselling in Germany
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I offer psychotherapy and couples counselling in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49 40 40 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!
Read more about my therapy method: Healing the inner child.