Infidelity or cheating is one of the most common reasons for a divorce, but that doesn’t mean that it always ends that way. Not only do the statistics not support the idea, but neither does our experience. We know more than one couple who has not only stayed married after an affair, but been happy, too. In fact, we are one of those couples.
Many years ago, one of us had a very brief affair.
We respect each other’s privacy too much to say who cheated, and to tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we not only survived it, we’re thriving in spite of it.
Infidelity is devastating to the spouse who has been cheated on; simply devastating. There’s no way to get around that. But we can honestly say that many of the cheating spouses are also devastated and that is actually something that will work in your favor if you let it. True regret and remorse and shame come from hurting someone you love and damaging a relationship that is valuable. A spouse who is devastated by their own cheating is a spouse who is willing to help heal their partner and their marriage.
The best advice that we can give you is to not make any rash decisions.
Divorce is not your only recourse after infidelity. When you first learn of an affair, your emotions are very raw and very intense. You have every right to feel this way, but don’t make any lasting decisions yet. However you need to do it, give yourself time to to get to the place where you can think things through without all of that pain and anger influencing you quite so profoundly.
If you’re the one who had the affair, make sure your spouse gets that time and space. It’s probably your only chance of putting your marriage back together. Don’t rush forgiveness and don’t demand a speedy recovery. Be mindful of your spouse’s feelings, be respectful and above all kind. You don’t need to become a mouse-in fact, you’ll have to be quite strong, but that strength needs to be a respectful one.
We’re going to discuss this topic over the course of a few posts, but there are also some excellent resources on the internet and in print. There’s a great article from Psychology Today called “After Infidelity: The Road Back” that we think is a great place to start.