The other day you were looking, totally innocently, for a telephone number in your partner’s phone, and what you found was much more than the number you were looking for! Now you don’t know what to do with the information.

You have discovered your partner has been sexting with a coworker for a few weeks: How should you handle the situation?

You may feel at first totally blown away by the discovery. You can’t imagine your partner as someone who would sext behind your back. You always thought this person was honest and trustworthy. Now you don’t know what to think any longer. You begin to question anything and everything. “Did I make a mistake?” You ask yourself. “What is it that I missed?” and “Is there more that I still don’t know?”

You feel like the ground you have been walking on has suddenly opened up under your feet and now you are suspended over an abyss and you don’t know how deep it is. You feel you can’t really talk to anyone about this, because you feel humiliated, embarrassed, and very uncomfortable. So you keep everything inside while you try to sort out your mixed feelings and come up with a plan. You feel angry. How could your partner do this to you? You don’t deserve it. You have always been honest and loyal. You had always stated the importance of being honest with one another and speak the truth, so how could this happen?

Then you question your relationship: is there something that could explain your partner’s behavior? Perhaps the two of you haven’t been very close lately. Perhaps you have been too focused on work, or the children, or your family… But then again, you wouldn’t do it no matter what, so why are you taking the blame? Your partner did it, not you. So the anger comes back and burns you from the inside.

Then you may question your sexual life together. Was it too boring for your partner? Lately you hadn’t been romantic very much with one another… Perhaps had you been more aware of each other’s sexual needs…

And then you go back to being furious and believing you don’t deserve this.

All these feelings and the emotional yo-yo you are in are normal reactions to a piece of news that has shattered your previous view of your partner and your relationship. What should you do?

You need to discuss what you found out with your partner. AND DON’T DELAY IT! No matter how difficult, uncomfortable, awkward and challenging that conversation is going to be, you cannot avoid it, or you will be left with all these questions, doubts and confusion in your head, which will get worse with time, not better.

But, before you talk to your partner, ask yourself how your partner’s sexting has impacted you: do you think this rupture in the relationship can be repaired? Do you want to work at repairing it? If you answered yes to these questions, then get ready to discuss the sexting with your partner.

As much as possible, try to be calm when you begin, rather than going on the attack right away, as much as you would like to do so. Instead, ask questions. Listen. Withhold judgment temporarily to allow for communication to take place. Try to understand – you don’t have to agree – why this happened and what your partner gets from these activities.

Remember that relationships are not measured so much by the problems, but by partners’ abilities to repair the problem areas. Is your partner remorseful? Is he or she concerned about these actions and agreeable to correct them by talking with you, or seeking professional help, if needed? Does your partner realize the impact these actions have on you? The more positive answers you have to these and similar questions, the more hopeful your situation is.

In the next blog, we will discuss what happens after disclosure. Stay with us.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Daniela Roher, I am a psychotherapist trained in Europe and the US and have been in practice for over 30 years. I have studied in Italy (University of Torino), England (Universities of Cambridge and Oxford), and the United States (Wayne State University), thereby achieving a deep understanding of the human mind and psychopathology. My training includes classes and workshops at the Tavistock Institute in London, England and the London Family Institute, as well as at UCLA. I received a postdoctoral certificate in adult psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, and this model continues to deeply influence my approach and work today.