You're mad. Really mad. But think BEFORE you act rashly.
For more than 20 years, I've worked with thousands of marriages affected by infidelity. Sometimes the straying spouse is emotionally enmeshed with his paramour and intends to never 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 their cheating spouse another chance.
If you face that decision, here are six things you must think over before declaring your marriage over:
1. Admit to yourself what you really want.
Wishing the adultery never occurred is useless. However, concentrating on what you truly want may prove 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.
2. Be honest with yourself.
Do not allow yourself to become deluded by 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 a 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 very well come to have the marriage you long to have. If you feel a desire to forgive and reconcile, don't bury it under layers of hurt and anger. Listen to your heart. Don't make this the only consideration in making your decision.
3. Evaluate what he is willing to do to rebuild trust.
If your unfaithful spouse asks you to forgive and take her back, you'll 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 re-establish your trust by going the extra mile for several months to assure you that she is trustworthy. Penitent people don't demand grace and mercy; they appreciate it as a gift from the offended.
Asking for answerability about time, money, friends, and more creates practical criteria for your emotional safety. If she agrees, consider that a positive toward reconciliation. If she refuses, you likely should consider that a negative.
4. Make your own decision.
As much as you love your family and friends and need their support during your crisis, don't seek their advice nor allow them to tell you what you should do. Because they love you, their anger toward the person who hurt you probably clouds their judgment.
Your decision to reunite or divorce affects the rest of your life. Reaching the best conclusion requires balance and objectivity. Don't expect to receive that from anyone who feels any inclination to pay back the person who cheated on you.
5. Consider what your decision means for your future.
If your spouse demonstrates a pattern of deceit and infidelity, it's better to face the truth than pretend everything will magically remedy itself.
On the other hand, my experience with thousands of marriages indicates that if a couple can work out their difficulties, learn to forgive, create the right boundaries to prevent future problems and do the things that make love grow, their marriage will be stronger after the affair than it was before the affair.
Adultery did not make it stronger. Rather, the "wake up call" and the subsequent building of a solid relationship made it stronger.
Divorce or reconciliation creates consequences. Think of the effect on your children. Holidays, seating and honors at your children’s weddings, potential half-siblings, and many other matters will become part of their lives as well as yours if either you or your mate marries someone else.
6. Seek the proper help.
There are many professionals who can help you through deciding whether to reconcile, and then, if you wish, to actually accomplish the reconciliation. They can help you love again and have a better marriage than you had.