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In The Aftermath Of 'Sweethearting' – The Dos And Don'ts Following The Discovery Of Betrayal

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

TINA Campbell, one half of the award-winning gospel duo Mary Mary, admitted to destroying three cars and plotting murder, all because of the anger and hurt she felt after finding out her husband had been cheating on her.

Tina's spouse, Teddy Campbell, had been having an affair with an employee who was also a close family friend.

The "God in Me" singer said during an interview on the Steve Harvey Show back in 2015: "And I was doing all that like...either I'm going to die wrong or live right. So we've been working on living right."

Before committing herself to healing and saving her marriage, Tina experienced devastation, trauma and a whirlwind of emotions that led her to exhibit extreme and detrimental behaviour.

Tina's response, while severe, is not an unusual one, as many who find out that their partner is having an extramarital affair will act out in sometimes uncharacteristic ways as a result of hurt.

With cheating, or as it is called euphemistically, "sweethearting", being a widespread practice in Bahamian culture, many spouses are finding themselves having to pick up the pieces of their lives after experiencing a heart-rending betrayal.

In the midst of all of this pain, it is important to take a deep breath and pause to give yourself a chance to analyse the situation, suggests Dr Edrica Richardson, a licenced marriage and family therapist who works with families both here in the Bahamas and in the United States.

She said infidelity causes many people to act on their emotions, and in doing so they sometimes make unsound decisions. For those currently in this predicament, she advises the following:

The don'ts

Stop digging. Once the cheating has been discovered, the betrayed partner may feel the desire to know everything about the affair. However, Dr Richardson said this is not helpful.

"Many people want to snoop and investigate more, but don't get hung up on the details. The details do not matter," she said. "The details are unnecessary. And on top of that how, is it going to be helpful to you? I think what is helpful though is asking the right questions and finding what could have led to the infidelity and what need was not being met in the relationship."

Dr Richardson said in many cases infidelity is a symptom of a greater problem and finding out what that problem is ends up being more helpful than getting caught up in the details.

"Knowing all the information will keep you angry and keep you from moving forward," she said.

Telling friends and family

"The truth is more often than not many couples end up getting back together. When you sound the alarm about infidelity and end up making the decision to work on the marriage, most of the people you tell, like your friends and family, are not able to get over it when you already have," said Dr Richardson.

While those going through this traumatic ordeal will want to have a support system, she suggests choosing those individuals wisely, and maybe even consulting with a professional.

"You have to find the one or two friends who you have who are going to be objective and unbiased. We all have different friends for different reasons, and if you tell a few friends or family members that is OK, but you want to involve only the people who will support you regardless of the decision you choose to make. Find someone who will say, 'I will support you even if you choose to forgive and give your spouse another chance'."

Confronting the sweetheart

Rage is among the many feelings betrayed partners feel. Some people scream, throw things, make threats, and sometimes even physically harm their partners as well as the person they committed the marital betrayal with.

However, even if you feel justified in these actions, Dr Richardson suggests never engaging in an unprovoked confrontation with your partner's lover.

"Sometimes the other person has no idea about you. The person you need to confront and need to be upset with is your spouse. They are the one with a commitment to you, not the other person," she said. "And even if the person is aware of you and knows you exist, you are still not in a relationship with them. They owe you nothing," she said.

The do's

Before making any life-altering decisions based solely on emotions, Dr Richardson said taking time to process what has occurred is a vital step to take. It allows one to effectively determine the next course of action.

"You will have questions and this is the time to ask the right ones. This is also an opportunity for the betrayed partner to evaluate the role they may have played. This is the time to take some accountability," she said.

Grieve, but do no rehash the hurt

Allowing oneself to go through all the emotions is healthy, and crying when the urge comes is normal and necessary. Infidelity is a huge transgression that can leave great devastation, hurt and pain in its wake. Dr Richardson said giving oneself the opportunity to feel those feelings will help the healing process. However, she warns against rehashing the offence at every opportunity as it will hinder any possible recovery.

"You should take some time apart to assess things. Make sure you are also setting boundaries and ensuring that the conversations you are having are on your terms ," she said.

Seeking counselling

Most important in many cases, said Dr Richardson, is seeking the help of a professional who can give the right advice to help navigate the ordeal. It will also assist the couple in determining what direction to take in their relationship in and what they need to be doing to achieve their objectives.

"The important thing to remember is that infidelity is not a deal-breaker. There are more couples who separate due finances than infidelity. However, to come back from the infidelity will take the rebuilding of trust and will require the offending partner to be extremely transparent and accountable. There are many couples that have built their marriages back after infidelity," she said.

• Dr Edrica D Richardson is a licenced marriage and family therapist in multiple states in the US. Check out her website at www.dredrich.com.

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