How Do I Control My Cheating Partner?

Do you feel compelled to control the healing of your partner and relationship after discovering that they cheated? 

I wanted to control my betrayal pain by controlling my partner.

 I know that I struggled with how do I control my cheating partner. I wanted to control what they did and what they said.  Yet want I really wanted was to control my betrayal pain. Being cheated on is one of the most painful experiences to suffer. So wanting to control our partner after they cheat is a normal response. Yet sadly, we soon discover that no matter how much we attempt to control them, it doesn't work.

The other day as I was cleaning my office workspace, I discovered the following quote written on a scrap of paper.

"If someone shows you who they are, don't try to repaint them."

This quote took me back to the days after infidelity when I tried to control my pain by controlling my partner. I did that by trying to paint them into the picture I wanted. Today I want to share the journey I took to let go of managing my pain by controlling them and how I learned to keep the focus on me.  Letting go of repainting them was an important step in my healing after being cheated on.

"I am only in control of myself. I cannot control my partner, and they can't control me either."

We always hear that we are only in control of ourselves. Yet knowing this truth and doing it are two different things, especially when we are in pain. But at the end of the day, keeping the focus on ourselves frees us from trying to control our partners. It's so hard to let go of trying to control their actions and their healing after they have cheated. Somehow, just like the quote above says, we need to find a way to keep our paintbrushes away from our unfaithful partners and on our paintings. We control ourselves by focusing on our own canvases!

I know that you are in pain, and it's natural to feel that if you control your partner, you will control the pain you are in due to their cheating. Sadly, it doesn't work and can take away from what you both truly need to heal.

You see, if you take responsibility for your partner by attempting to control their behavior or healing, then you risk robbing them of building the character to become responsible for themselves.  It limits their ability to be the partner and/or parent they want to be. We just mess up their life picture with the colors we think they should use, and they ultimately resent us for it. Attempting to repaint our partners instead of letting them learn to paint for themselves undermines their growth and ability to learn from their mistakes.

My unfaithful partner has a sixth sense when it comes to control; he smells it a mile away.  And while my controlling actions or motives came with the best intentions, like to reduce our collective pain, it just created more shame in my partner. I sent him the message that he was not doing it right and that he was not enough. And then I was shocked by him getting overcome with shame triggers and acting crazy or withdrawing himself from me! My partner and I were both negatively impacted when I attempted to control or repaint him.

If we want to say anything about a situation, it's best to keep it all about ourselves. 

We all know that to be relational, we need to use "I statements." But it is so hard when we're triggered not to control our cheating partners by telling them their faults and what they have to do and how to do it. Infidelity, that great, big, ugly life reset button, eventually taught me how to focus on myself. Not immediately, because initially, I felt justified to give in to venting all over my partner, pointing out how they were wrong or what they should do. And I had many, many false starts before "I statements" became a way of communicating with my partner. 

I learned how to be safer in our relationship because my need to control hurt us both.

It finally sunk in one night during dinner as I felt myself becoming thoroughly triggered by my partner's thoughtless comment on something. (I can't remember what! But they suffer from foot'n'mouth disease, especially when walking on eggshells to please me or dancing around their shame!)

I knew I wanted to handle this differently because I couldn't control my pain by controlling them. So I chose not to share how triggered I was by the comment immediately. Instead, I did my healing work about why I was triggered. I felt and processed my pain about it and saw parts of myself that wanted healing. I kept it all about me and didn’t let myself make it about them!

Later that night, I went back to my partner and stated, "Tonight at dinner, I let my insecurities get the best of me." That statement was the truth for me at that moment, and it felt very vulnerable instead of controlling. A prideful part of me thought they would perhaps laugh at me or be sarcastic and shame me. I sat with those feelings too!

But my statement was honest and free from control, resentment, or judgment. I had no attachments, no expectations, and I kept it about me. It felt good to talk about my pain this way. It was authentic and, dare I say it, grown-up even! I used to hate the term, put on your big girl panties! Now it seems I have an entire drawer full of many colors too! Letting go of controlling my cheating partner was like putting on my big girl panties. It wasn't fun, but it was practical, and it did the job!

Letting go of controlling my cheating partner took time and practice.

Initially, I needed to leave the room after making an "I statement" to my partner, so I wasn't tempted to add more... and more... until I had worked myself into an argument with them and was attempting to control them again. Leaving the room was a way I kept myself safe and was a powerful self-care tool.

Now I'm able to sit with my silence after dropping my truth; it just slips out naturally these days. But it took time, practice, and lots of self-care to get to this place. And it's a comfortable place to rest now. It's relational. I don't want to repaint them anymore. Instead, I'm sharing my picture with them and giving them space to share theirs with me.  

At first, it was tough to be silent or to walk away, especially when it looked like my partner wasn't doing anything with what I said. But it was letting them take responsibility for themselves and their healing. In truth, I didn't know what was going on inside them. How could I, I'm not able to read minds.  I had to let go of guessing or allowing my insecurities to run amuck. 

It was more important that I focused on my issues and paint myself into the life I wanted to live.

When I stopped trying to control our healing and focused on my self-care, I discovered that I was coloring my life with self-respect.  And the impact of that self-respect extended beyond me in the form of beginning to feel some respect toward my partner as well. Respecting their space and allowing them to be the color and "hue" who they were! Self-respect is a powerful color and we both needed it in our lives.

Yes, they had painted outside the lines when they cheated, and now their picture looked different from what I wanted it to be. But it was their picture, and it was unfinished. My partner had their life journey to paint and I needed to give them the space to do it. Healing myself from their unfaithful actions was my job to focus on.

We can't control or heal our partner's flaws or fix their issues; that's their job. 

But we can support our partner if they ask for support, so long as it doesn't cross our personal boundaries. And we can express how we feel without pointing our finger with blame or shame at them by keeping our thoughts and words about ourselves. It takes time and self-care to learn what we need to heal from. Trying to control or heal our partner distracts us away from our healing and keeps us focused on the wrong things.

So how do we control our cheating partners? We don't. To heal the pain, we withdraw our paintbrushes from their canvas...and paint our own masterpieces in life instead! Maybe our picture won't be filled with magical rainbows, or perhaps it will! But it will be our own!

I don't believe that a woman is more beautiful than when she lives her own picture, being everything she's created to be and loving her life! Unashamed, authentic, free! Infidelity resets everything in our lives. With all the work it takes to heal, let's focus all our energy on that rather than wasting our time trying to control or repaint our partners' lives. They cheated, and it is on them to heal their broken bits. We have enough work by painting our own lives with the things we love in our own pictures.

Life is about change, sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's beautiful, but most of the time it's both!

Today is a good day to look after yourself by letting go of the burden of trying to fix your partner's picture. Why? Because we never could control our partner, and they proved that when they cheated on us. If you want more support on letting go of controlling your partner or help with your healing journey, please accept me gift of a free call with me here. 

After experiencing the healing benefits of self-care in my own life, and those I shared the benefits with, I created an 18-week Self Care After Infidelity Course. The course is designed to give you, a betrayed wife, more support, love, and care as you travel through this painful healing journey after being cheated on. You know you are worth the effort it takes to heal! Learn to paint your own life as a masterpiece through self-care.

Much love,

You may also find these helpful:

Why is Being Cheated On So Painful?
Mindset of a Cheating Man – Habits Cheaters Have
Why Did My Husband Cheat?

About the Author

I'm the Betrayed Wife, mother of adult children, former teacher, and now a certified life coach and relationship facilitator.

The betrayed wife's personal experiences, her highly attuned ear, and deep insights are what her clients love most about working with her. She lives on a farm with her husband and spends her days gardening and tending to her flock. More about  the betrayed wife's personal infidelity story...

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