Couples are sometimes uncertain of where to draw the line between appropriate behavior and behaviors that may be considered cheating. Some define cheating as having sexual contact outside the marriage. Some people define cheating as
anything that is done in secret that would not be approved upon if the other spouse had knowledge of the behavior. So where should the line be drawn? Would an emotional affair be considered cheating if there was no sexual contact? What about the secret use of pornography?
Some people are confused about whether they have the “right”to be angry with their spouse when faced with any kind of betrayal, because they are unsure if the behavior has crossed the line to be considered
“cheating”. The definition for the word cheating is “to deceive or trick.” Cheating has occurred in the relationship when boundaries have been disrespected. Every relationship is defined by the boundaries that have been established to protect the relationship. Once the boundaries of the relationship have been crossed, the result is broken trust.
If a person thinks that the actions that their spouse engaged in are defined as cheating, then it is. A person can feel it when they have been betrayed by a loved one. They will feel it by the anxiety, mistrust and anger that build up towards the betrayer. Intuition usually tells a person that something is not right in the relationship. Cheating and betrayal are detrimental to the relationship. The foundation of the relationship has been ripped away. The foundation of any relationship is trust, and once trust has been broken, it will take a long time to rebuild. People know that betrayal has occurred because they will no longer feel the unconditional trust. They will start to second guess and question if their spouse is actually truthful
A spouse has cheated and betrayed the marriage when there has been an emotional affair, secret viewing of pornography, planning of an encounter- or whatever it may have been, when it is done outside of what is
considered appropriate in the relationship. It is pointless to try to convince someone that certain behaviors are not considered cheating because the damage has already been done. The repair work will still need to be done in order for the relationship to survive. The relationship has been put in danger and iwill take significant time to rebuild the trust. The foundation of the relationship will be wobbly until trust is restored.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, SRT, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist