He promised to love you and stay faithful for the rest of his life. But he didn’t. Now what?
A cheating spouse is one of the greatest fears in many marriages. It is also one of the more damaging ones. Most marriages are able to weather different challenges: bad health, poor fortunes, and frustrating in-laws. However, when one partner cheats on the other, it affects the foundations of the marriage, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
Catching a cheating spouse isn’t easy. Unless you are good at reading the signs, your partner could continue having an affair behind your back for weeks or months. However, what comes with the discovery is always the same. It leaves you feeling hurt, betrayed, furious, and helpless, all at the same time.
So what do you do when your partner cheats on you? It depends. If you have recently discovered that your husband or wife is cheating, the following are some of the paths that you can take.
An affair does not have to signal the end of the marriage. Some couples are able to work through their difficult periods. However, it isn’t easy. It requires a frank appraisal of what, if anything, was wrong with the marriage.
In order for reconciliation to work, both parties must be willing to put in the effort. Otherwise, the attempt will almost certainly fail.
The odds of reconciliation occurring will depend on the marriage itself. Couples who have been involved in a happy, solid relationship will be far more willing to give their unions another try once the rage, shock, and shame of the betrayal have passed.
You need to ask yourself some tough questions. Is this marriage worth fighting for? Do you genuinely believe your partner will not cheat on you again? Will you be able to forgive him or her and grow to love your partner again? If the answers to these are yes, then reconciliation may be a good choice.
However, do not reconcile for the wrong reasons. Don’t consider reconciliation because you somehow think the affair was your fault. It wasn’t.
Partners who cheat often lay the blame on their spouses. Your partner didn’t cheat because of what you did or said. Your partner cheated because your partner made the conscious decision to do so. Sex in a hotel halfway across town does not happen accidentally—it is planned.
Your spouse should be willing to take responsibility for his or her actions. If your partner is not willing to do this, consider an alternative.
More often than not, the likely consequence of a partner’s indiscretion will be separation. It does not have to be permanent. Many couples separate after one party cheats only to reconcile months or years later.
Several things will affect your decision to go forward with a separation. One will be the circumstances of the affair. Was your partner’s indiscretion a one-time thing or did it stretch on for months? Did your partner cheat with only one person or with multiple people? Affairs that last for longer periods are more likely to lead to separations, because they chart a history of consistent, conscious betrayals, which makes them harder to forgive.
When deciding whether to proceed with a separation, consider the state of your marriage. Was your marriage a happy one before “the incident” or did it have many difficulties? Separations are far more likely to occur if the marriage was heading towards a rough patch already. The affair will be the final push that the couple needed to take some time apart and reconsider the relationship.
Divorce: the seven-lettered word that no young couple wants to hear. And yet divorce is one of the higher risks of marriage. Nearly 50-percent of marriages end in divorce, and half of these occur because of infidelity.
Should you divorce your partner if he or she cheats on you? Many people would encourage this option. After all, having an affair goes against the vows you both made to each other on your wedding day. Nevertheless, going deeper than that, affairs often sow seeds of distrust that not even time can heal.
Even so, everyone has a different situation. Don’t base your decision on what someone else might do. Base it on yourself.
Consider your partner. If your spouse has a history of betrayals, there is little reason to believe that he or she has changed. But if the act of betrayal goes against the nature of who your partner is, there may be hope for your marriage.
The decision to forgive and move forward varies with different people. Some people have the capacity to shoulder the hurt and move on. Others are broken by it.
Listen to your heart. Before you make the decision, ask yourself what you really want. Ultimately, it takes two people to make a marriage work. If one or both of you are not willing to try to fix the marriage, divorce may be the only option.
Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions
Regardless of what you choose to do, look for a healthy way to let go of your anger. It’s understandable for you to be hurt and enraged at your partner’s indiscretion. But don’t let your anger push you into making hasty decisions that you will regret.
Look for ways to work off your steam. Try going for long walks or working out at the gym. Don’t make any firm decisions until you have calmed down long enough to think clearly.
Betrayals in marriage are not as uncommon as you might think. Statistics show that infidelity occurs in roughly 20- to 40-percent of marriages. Some betrayals go undetected, leaving one partner in blissful ignorance.
It is impossible to predict with certainty that your partner will cheat. It is also difficult to predict what your reaction will be if it happens to you. The only thing you can accept with certainty is that, if it does happen, you will have more than one option.