Since 1994, I have worked with thousands of marriages affected by infidelity. Sometimes the straying spouse is emotionally enmeshed with her paramour and intends never to return. Other times, the unfaithful mate feels remorse and asks for forgiveness and reconciliation. When that occurs, the hurting partner often struggles with deciding whether to divorce or give the wandering spouse another chance.
If you face that decision, I suggest several things for you to consider:
1. Admit to yourself what you really want. Wishing the adultery never occurred is useless. However, concentrating on what you truly want may be the most useful consideration in making your decision.
To understand your deepest desires, ignore your natural emotional reaction to strike out against him. Instead, listen to the voice in your heart that whispers about the future you wish to have together.
Adultery is terrible. However, sometimes good people do bad things. If he is penitent, and you believe he is worth rescuing, your heart may be guiding you to the right decision. But be careful.
2. Be honest with yourself. Do not allow yourself to be deluded into thinking that a continually deceitful and untrustworthy spouse will magically become the man on whom you can depend. You harm yourself if you allow a manipulator to continue relationship with you. On the other hand, if deep within you know that his infidelity contradicts the man you know him to be, you may well come to have the marriage you long to have.
If you feel a desire to forgive and reconcile, do not bury it under layers of hurt and anger. Listen to your heart. Do not make this the only consideration in making your decision. Nevertheless, whether or not you have a desire to reconcile may well be the first and most important.
3. Evaluate what he is willing to so to rebuild trust. If your unfaithful spouse asks you to forgive and take her back, you will be wise to establish accountability as part of your decision process. As you listen to your heart, also listen to your head and define those things that will provide you reassurance if you reconcile.
While no one can live under constant examination for a lifetime, it is reasonable to expect her to reestablish your trust by going the extra mile for several months to assure you that she is trustworthy. Penitent people do not demand grace and mercy; they appreciate it as a gift from the offended. Continue reading.
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