Most of us get married because we are head over heels in love and cannot imagine our life without this person by our side. We promise to cherish, honor, and be faithful to them and all is right in our world. We feel safe and secure in our spouse’s love wondering how we ever lived without them. We trust them completely. We can’t imagine they would be unfaithful because if we did our world would fall apart.
Betrayal is one of the deepest, darkest, most hurtful things a person can do to someone they love. The intense feelings of sadness and anger alternate within you like a dangerous storm. From a torrent of tears to a flash of white hot anger, your emotions feel out of control.
Often the person who is cheated on feels like they have done something wrong or that they somehow were not good enough. The problem does not lie with the victim, it lies with the offender. No one chooses to be cheated on but if you are the one doing the cheating, you made a choice.
Dealing with the hurt and anger won’t be easy. However, it will be easier than the decisions you have to make now. Trying to decide if you are going to forgive the betrayal or move on without your spouse is the hard part. Either way, there is emotional pain.
Is there a right answer?
So, should you forgive the indiscretion? The answer is, it depends. Do you love each other and want to make it work? Are you both committed? Can you regain trust? If the answer is yes to any of those, then forgiveness will be the only option. Without it, you will never heal and neither will the relationship. Whenever there is tension that wound will bleed again and the scar will get deeper.
Keep in mind that forgiving is not the same as forgetting. It doesn’t make you weak. You are not pardoning the offender’s behavior and you are not saying that everything is all right. Forgiving the behavior has nothing to do with the other person, it is a gift you give to yourself. This is true whether you stay or go.
If you can’t or won’t forgive you will carry a resentment that will continue to build like a bonfire. You will stay angry and become a bitter person. By not forgiving you allow the incident to negatively impact your personality. It changes you and not for the better.
It is time for some straight talk with your partner. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Have they stopped all contact with this other person? According to infidelity expert Danine Manette, these are some of the questions that will help you decide if you are going to stay in the relationship.
Other questions include:
- Did they take responsibility for the affair or did they try to place blame elsewhere?
- Are they still hiding things?
- Was this the first incident?
- Do they want to make the relationship work?
- Will they be willing and able to offer support and understanding to you?
- Was a child conceived from the affair?
Forgiveness doesn’t happen in a day. It is a journey, sometimes a long one. If your marriage was on solid ground before the incident, and want the relationship to continue, then your journey to forgiveness should begin with couples counseling. A counselor can help you communicate openly and effectively and guide you down the path. You must realise though, that your relationship will never be the same. If you love each other and work hard, it can still be a great marriage and sometimes a second chance works out better than the first one.
When you cannot stay
There are many reasons why you would decide it was time to cut your losses and move on without your partner. Maybe your marriage wasn’t built on solid ground from the beginning, or there were other problems that made this act the final straw. Maybe they aren’t sorry and do not show regret over the incident.
There are likely a few reasons for moving on, and sometimes the best thing to do after a tremendous loss is to stop and take your life in a different direction. Choosing to leave someone you gave your heart and soul to is heart-wrenching. Ultimately, you have to trust yourself. If you stay, it should be because you are committed and willing to forgive. If you go it should be because the relationship has been damaged beyond repair. Either way, the path to healing will be a long one. Only you know which path to choose.