In “Rx for Infidelity: When Infidelity Has Invaded Your Head, Heart and Sexual Health,” Dr. Sherrie Campbell describes the residual physical, mental and emotional harm that infidelity leaves in a marriage.
“Infidelity is on the rise in our culture. Women and men are having affairs in equal numbers, and it is destroying the American concept of marriage,” says Dr. Campbell, a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services in Southern California.
“The emotional turmoil of being the person cheated on creates lifelong damage in the areas of trust, self-love, and being emotionally and mentally healthy.”
Infidelity assaults a marriage. Many couples cannot make it; others stay together but not without many permanent wounds to the relationship. One of the worst outcomes of infidelity, however, is the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease — STD
No one ever wants to picture their partner sharing bodily fluids, emotions or sensations with another person. With or without an STD, the victim spouse may see the offender as soiled and stained. When an STD is passed as a result of the affair, the victim spouse now lives with decisions he or she never made. The STD, which has already damaged the marriage, now creates worry, fear and anger. The affair transcends from being emotionally destructive to physically dangerous.
Being victimized is a defining aspect of an affair for the cheated-on partner. The victim spouse becomes powerless and feels physically assaulted in tandem with being emotionally assaulted.
One of the most important elements of the reconciliation process after marital infidelity — perhaps the most important element – is a willingness on the part of the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions and face their real-life consequences. Those consequences can assume a number of shapes and show up on several different levels—physical, mental and psychological. Both the offender and the victim cannot put their marriage back on track without dealing with them.
If a partner’s affair brought him or her into contact with sexually transmitted diseases, both spouses want to know about it right away. An STD can have profound implications for the sexual dimension of a marriage for as long as it exist. Some STDs can lie dormant in a woman’s body for a long time before manifesting any symptoms. It’s in everybody’s best interests to bring the facts to light as soon as possible – before there’s time for further damage to be incurred.
When the STD is a more permanent illness such as Herpes or HPV, or worst-case scenario HIV, this disease marks the victim for life. With each outbreak or physical symptom, another emotional wound reopens. This makes it very difficult for the person who was cheated on to stay in the marriage and ironically, even more difficult for him or her to leave for the fear of having to face being single marked with an STD.
The victim must look after his or her health by, first, trying to improve his or her immune system. Dietary and lifestyle changes may help. Exercise, eating well, getting lots of rest and learning stress reduction techniques may also help. In doing this, the cheated-on person comes to terms with anger and depression and concentrates on healing.
Emotional healing is crucial because no amount of anger, stress, suffering and resentment or tears will change the situation.