The 2 Factors to Consider After Infidelity
Infidelity can be like a tornado to a relationship. It can hit suddenly, and it can feel as though it’s destroying everything in its path, including your trust, happiness and self-confidence.
And when the winds die down, you have a big decision to make. Determining whether to stay or to go can be extremely difficult. Especially with so many thoughts running through your brain: Did he love her? What about our children? How am I supposed to be alone now? How could my partner do this to me?
But focusing on the right factors will lead you to the happiness you deserve. If your partner has cheated on you, it can definitely make you feel insecure. This is not just about your relationship with your spouse. It’s about the most important relationship you have: the one with yourself. Remember, you have to know who you are and what makes you happy before you can tell someone else.
Here are the 2 factors and 4 non-factors that will help you make the right decision for you:
Factor #1: Can You Forgive?
Forgiveness is the factor. If you can forgive, you can more forward.
People often think of forgiveness as letting their partner off the hook, i.e. letting them get away with the infidelity. However, it’s not about the other person. It is about you and whether or not you can see past your partner’s mistakes and see the love that has kept you together up until now. I know the thought of your spouse being emotionally or physically connected with someone else takes your breath away. But does this mistake outweigh all the good things about your relationship?
Forgiveness will allow you to move forward and rebuild your relationship, but not if your partner is smug and unremorseful. I would not encourage you to stay in that kind of partnership. Forgiving your partner’s mistake is one thing, but actively being in a relationship with someone who continues to cheat on you is another. You deserve better than that. If your partner is sorry and regrets the day that they betrayed your trust, then that’s a start. It’s a new beginning in which you can see each other’s flaws and decide to stay together anyway.
Factor #2: What Do You Want?
While forgiveness is the biggest and most important factor when deciding whether to stay or go, you should also ask yourself, “Do I want to stay with my partner?” This decision can take some time to figure out, but it is significant to rebuilding your relationship. Because, here’s the deal, you can forgive your partner and still choose to leave the relationship.
Remember, forgiveness is for you. So whether you leave or stay, forgiveness is a must. Staying with your partner after they have cheated means you two will need to work through the tough stuff. Your emotions will go up and down, and it may get worse before it gets better. But if you both are committed to making your relationship work, I promise that it will get better. Staying or leaving is a hard decision; either way, it takes work to move forward.
Non-Factor #1: Forget the Details of the Affair
You may think knowing the details of the affair will help you decide whether to stay or to go. How many times did it happen? Did they love each other? Et cetera, et cetera. I know you think this will help you deal with the pain, but it won’t. The answers to those questions will make you focus on the actions of the affair and not on how to recover from the affair. And in order to move forward, recovery is the goal — whether you are recovering with your partner or by yourself.
One thing to remember when deciding if you should stay or go is that your partner’s affair is not about you. Yes, they can give you excuses: “You weren’t affectionate” or “You weren’t supportive.” But at the end of the day, there are many marriages in which partners have these same concerns, and they do not cheat. You cannot let your partner’s cheating cause you guilt, and you should not let insecurity and shame run you out of the relationship and definitely not out of town. You have nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t take responsibility for your partner’s decision to be unfaithful.
In truth, your partner was going through something internally that made cheating look like an answer to their problems. That’s why when I see a couple because of infidelity, I also see them individually. I want to give them a safe place to speak truthfully and start to get to the core of why the affair happened. Each person needs to be emotionally healthy, so they can be healthy together.
Non-Factor #2: Don’t Let Fear Be a Factor
The fear of being alone keeps many people in unhappy relationships. Maybe you feel like you need to be in a relationship to be happy, to be validated. The only validation you need is your own love, and self-respect is pivotal to being happy with or without someone else. The fact that your partner had an affair is not your fault, but it is a chance for you to learn how strong you really are. You can have your heart broken and you can move on and live your life. Staying in the relationship because of fear is giving your power away.
Non-Factor #3: It’s Not All About The Money
When deciding if you should stay or leave your relationship, finances can come into your mind. You may be a stay-at-home mom or dad. Maybe you have developed a business together or just finished building your dream home together. But let’s keep it real, material things should never keep you in a relationship. Yes, it’s scary to think of being a single parent, paying bills by yourself or splitting assets. But the reality is – if you feel you will be happier without your partner, then you should leave. Peace of mind and happiness do not have a price tag.
If you stay, it should be solely dependent on your love for and commitment to your partner. That’s what’s going to get you through those tough days to come. When you feel insecure or distrustful, the love you see when you look into your partner’s eyes is what’s going to give you strength to go forward.
Non-Factor #4: If You Are OK, The Kids Are OK
As parents, kids are a major factor in everything you do. But the old adage “I’m staying because of the kids” is a falsehood. I am sure you want your kids to grow up in a home with both of their parents, but your priority should be giving them a happy home. Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for being. If there are problems in your marriage, they will sense that. But they won’t think, “Oh, mommy or daddy cheated!” They will internalize the negativity, and they will think they are the problem. Kids are resilient, and if you are happy, they are happy.
If your kids are a priority to you, then show them how grownups act when they are strong and make the right decisions. Show them that even though the people we love make mistakes we can still choose to forgive them and move forward.
Debating your future after infidelity is difficult. It should be carefully thought out before a final decision is made, which is why receiving counseling after an affair can be so important. Counseling can help you ask and answer those tough questions while helping you and your partner understand each other better. Counseling also means that, no matter your decision, you have the support you need to move forward.
If you want help moving forward after infidelity, you can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule your appointment. I can help individuals and couples in the Greenville, SC area.