It’s normal to feel confused about what to do next after you learn that your partner has been cheating on you. Should you stay? Should you go? Reflect on yourself, your partner and your relationship to determine the best course of action.
If you found out that your spouse was having an affair, would you leave him/her? It wouldn’t be surprising if many people responded with an emphatic “Yes!” Discovering that your partner has been cheating on you is devastating. In fact, the pain caused by this kind of betrayal can be so overwhelming that it has led many couples to part ways. However, if you ask anyone who has been through this situation, you will discover that it wasn’t a simple and easy decision to up and leave their errant spouse.
The betrayed party understandably feels shock, anger, confusion, heartache and loss; however, these emotions cannot and does not negate the love they feel for their partner and the fact that they have built a life together, possibly for many years. Choosing whether or not to forgive the other person for their betrayal – and if they should stay or go – are some of the hardest decisions a person will ever have to make.
Affairs can leave a person’s emotional, mental and physical state in turmoil. The situation becomes even more difficult to navigate when children are involved. How does one make a decision of such magnitude? While it is never an easy choice to make, these options can help you think about how you can handle things.
Option 1: Give it some time and a lot of thought.
Some people can feel pressured to choose right away, especially if they have previously voiced their opinion that that their relationship would be over the moment they discover their partner was having an affair. However, if you just recently learned about your spouse’s infidelity, taking time to think before you make permanent decisions is prudent. You can use this time to learn if your spouse is truly remorseful about their unfaithfulness and if they still want to stay and work on your marriage. During this time, it would be wise to do whatever you feel is necessary to ensure your safety and security, not just physically, but also emotionally and financially. Consider what is most important for you when it comes to your mental, emotional and physical health as you deliberate your options. It would also help if you and your spouse engage the services of a relationship therapist during this time. A neutral and professional counselor will provide a safe environment for you and your partner to talk about your feelings and assess your relationship and where you stand.
This will also give you time to determine whether you are considering staying with your partner for the right reasons. Are you thinking of staying because you are afraid to be alone? Because you feel like having a broken marriage is shameful? Or because you truly believe that the years and effort you and your spouse spent building your marriage make it worth redeeming because you still love each other?
Option #2: Stay with your partner and work things out.
Staying with your partner can make sense for various reasons. It may be that you can see that your partner is showing genuine remorse that is coming from a sincere heart and they are willing to go through lengths to earn your forgiveness and trust back. The affair may have been a one-time thing committed in a moment of weakness and poor judgment on your spouse’s part that you feel you are able to forgive and get over. You may have a truly loving and wonderful relationship with your partner that was marred by this one indiscretion, and you and your partner are committed to getting past their mistake. These are all scenarios in which staying may be the right thing for you to do.
Most experts will caution against automatically deciding to stay in a marriage just “because of the children”. Yes, it’s important to consider the impact that separating from your partner will have on your children; however, you do not have to make them the determining factor. For one thing, it is too much of a burden to place on such fragile shoulders. Staying together only for the sake of the children is not always the best solution. Kids are more in tune with what is going on in your marriage than you think, and will sense if you and your spouse are unhappy.
Option #3: Leave your partner now.
There are many reasons for wanting to terminate your relationship after an affair. You may come to realize that you don’t really love each other anymore and the affair was just the proverbial nail in the coffin of your marriage. It could be that you and your spouse have been struggling with many issues for a while now and have grown apart as a result. You barely talk, and if you do, all you do is argue. Your relationship has become the shadow of what it once was, and staying together and rebuilding it requires more work than either of you are willing to put forth. Perhaps your partner has been a habitual cheater and you’ve already given them way too many chances, all for naught.
You’ve tried everything – your partner has ended the affair, you’ve gone to counseling, done your best to forgive and move on – but you just can’t get past the affair, you remain angry, hurt and suspicious, and your partner feels exhausted from having to constantly reassure you that they are no longer fooling around behind your back, making you both unhappy. In these cases, it may be best to go your separate ways instead of prolonging your misery.
The circumstance may be similar, but every one views infidelity and its consequences differently. At the end of the day, you know yourself and your partner better than anyone else and can only make decisions based on your own personal experiences and worldview. Whether you stay or go, the road will be strewn with hurdles, so you should choose the one you can fully commit to and you believe is best for you.