I recently came across so many cheating spouses at a parent Facebook group I’m in. And the cheaters were not limited to just husbands, many wives have extramarital affairs and one night stands too.
From the comments, the knee-jerk type advice would be to hire a private investigator and file for a divorce. But as someone who has been through a divorce myself, with a kid in tow (he didn’t cheat on me though, a different reason for splitting)... I know it’s not easy. It took me a few years before I actually took the leap, because I felt I was in too deep. Leaving may not always be the best resort, but how would you know if the infidelity is reason enough to split or not?
The thing is, it is very possible to repair a marriage after infidelity. If there is sincere remorse, a change in behaviour, and if the problems that led to infidelity are addressed and corrected, the marriage can and should be saved.
Here’s what you need to consider:
1. How certain are you it won’t happen again?
No one wants to keep living life in a vulnerable state where you cannot trust your partner and you always have to be on your toes and wary of what your spouse might be up to. It’s not sustainable, you will waste your life being unhappy. Will your spouse remove himself completely from that environment that allowed him to cheat? Or does he perhaps insist on maintaining a certain lifestyle like sleazy KTV joints?
2. Is the cheater willing to regain trust?
This part is no walk in the park. It’s not as easy as saying “Sorry, it won’t happen again.” The cheater will have to apologise and accept accountability, and not get defensive or shift the blame on to you. Then they need to take every measure possible to make sure the behaviour doesn't repeat. So that means no contact with the 3rd party. You also need to be reassured, as often as needed, and be allowed to check up on them. The cheater has to accept that the relationship balance has shifted and boundaries are tighter. These are all realistic demands from you before you accept them back.
3. What type of cheating was it?
Yes, we’ve heard the line before - Cheating is Cheating. But honestly, the type of infidelity matters. Was it just a one night stand with no further contact? Was it a long drawn affair with a colleague? Was it with your best friend?! There’s opportunistic infidelity, where there’s actually nothing wrong in the marriage, but when faced with any sort of temptation and opportunity to cheat, they do. There’s romantic infidelity where the cheater has feelings for and a relationship with the 3rd party. And there’s commemorative infidelity where a spouse is unhappy in a relationship but doesn’t want to end it, yet they seek fulfilment outside of the marriage. Which circumstances can you accept, and which are a definite point of no return for you?
4. Can you fix the problem?
This is the most important consideration, because if you both cannot fix the root cause of the cheating then there is really no point staying in the marriage. If the problem remains, the cheating will too (only perhaps they will learn to hide it better this time). There needs to be commitment and willingness of both parties to repair the marriage.
Infidelity is not a death sentence to a marriage but as you can see, it is very damaging to any relationship and will change the whole landscape of the relationship even if you choose to stay together.