YOUR MARRIAGE | How to handle your partner working with their ex
Even if you aren’t the jealous type and even if you fully trust your partner, anyone will be highly challenged by the idea of their partner being in a workspace with someone they cheated with.
Because, let’s face it, what can anyone do with a partner who cheats with someone they have to see daily? Unless the cheating partner takes drastic initiatives to repair the marriage themselves, there is nothing the other one can do. The cheating spouse has to want to change and reassure the other.
And this is the situation the relationship is placed under, when your spouse continues to work with someone they used to cheat with. It’s a cycle of pain, because doing the hard work to rescue and reinvent your marriage after infidelity is daunting. With the person is still in your spouse’s face every day will definitely build walls of emotional distance between the two of you — even if they claim the affair is over.
So what do you do?
In general, post-cheating advice requires the partner who had the affair to cut off all contact with the other person — immediately and permanently. This is a major step towards healing and eventually, reconciliation. When your spouse still works with their former affair partner, however, things get trickier.
The process of trust rebuilding involves doing everything possible to help your marriage progress towards health. And some of the stuff you do in the process may seem unreasonable to someone who is not on your shoes.
Here are a few considerations:
Commit to being an unbreakable team
Find unity in teaming up to solve this issue and to deal with the co-worker in question. There is no room for hidden or vacillating agendas between you and your spouse. You must remain attentive to each other and be exceedingly team-orientated.
Create a plan for being in touch during the day
As someone who works with an ex, much responsibility for openness and transparency lies with you. This is no time to ignore texts and phone calls from your spouse. Transparency is essential and communication has never been more important.
Maintain public contact boundaries
Let the ex and other co-workers who know — in no uncertain terms — that you and your spouse have both moved on together. This can be done in various subtle and overt ways. You can place a photo (or 3) of your spouse in your workspace and refuse to ever be alone with your ex. Also, since generally everyone is on social media, you and your spouse can use that space to reaffirm your connection and commitment without being overbearing. Interact there or share an account. Speak positively about your relationship. In addition, make a point of spending time with colleagues who support your marriage.
Speaking of social media, agree to have unlimited access to one another’s accounts and cellphones. You may even have your bank accounts linked, if you don’t already have a shared account. If you have to work after hours, ensure it’s verifiable with a third and fourth person. And working after hours, cannot be with the ex. For cases where you have to work together, it’s important to let your superior know what you’re dealing with, so that the situation can possibly be avoided.
It’s important that your marriage is built on a firm foundation of honesty and trust, and that your bond must endure and deepen. Under this circumstance, open the door to your spouse to pay you occasional visits, should they feel like it, at work during lunch breaks.
However, they must be prepared to bump into your former fling on the corridors, and must not cause a scene. They must ensure they are strong enough to deal with the pressures of entering that space confidently and with dignity. If they’re not willing to visit the workplace, they should at least consider attending work functions where partners are allowed.
Insist on a strategy for reporting any interaction with the ex
If you must interact with your ex professionally, you need a protocol. No exchange can go unreported and/or undiscussed from now on. No exceptions.
Engage an accountability colleague
Having a trusted friend at work that you have given the right to hold you accountable is another action you can take. The person’s job isn’t necessarily to police you. But they can hold you accountable when they notice that you’re lapsing into your old ways, and provide guidance.
Obviously, this is not always possible and it’s no guarantee that you won’t cheat with another colleague elsewhere. But in this case, we’re addressing couples that honestly seek to move forward in their marriage as a couple, not people who’re not ready to forsake their cheating ways.
Infidelity is a drastic situation that often requires drastic action. Seek counselling with your superior, colleagues and friends to discuss this option. If an opportunity presents itself, apply for another opening at a different location, or a different company altogether. Losing a job may be a sacrifice you both need to make for the survival of your marriage and long-term peace of mind. But this decision should be taken under advice.
Attend couples counselling
Cheating with a co-worker presents some incredibly unique set of problems to address. It’s not dramatic or an overstatement to call them make-or-break concerns. With all the emotions swirling around the disclosure of a betrayal, it is absolutely crucial to seek outside help. You shouldn’t be expected to juggle all the nuances of such circumstances on your own. Meeting regularly with an unbiased and experienced guide is a powerful and sometimes necessary step towards finding answers to the myriad of questions that seem to pop up by the dozens when you’re hurting
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