Your spouse has come clean on an affair. Should you stay or should you go?
If you find yourself wondering how to tell if a person is good or bad, I suggest you evaluate how he or she was before the infidelity or other bad behavior. Obviously, a person committing adultery is not doing a good thing, though the adulterer temporarily may have deluded him/herself that the unfaithfulness is not wrong. However, if at heart the adulterer actually is a good person — one with strong morals and sense of right and wrong — likely he or she eventually will come to regret the infidelity and seek to make things right.
Therefore, rather than considering only the present situation, consider who your spouse is and has always been. That may provide insight into what he or she will be in the future.
If the straying spouse has ended the illicit relationship and wants to make the marriage work, that usually means that at heart she or he is a good person. If the straying spouse continues in the infidelity, he or she may still be a good person at heart who in time will come to his or her senses and regret the unfaithfulness. If you have any reason to believe that your spouse is a good person who did a bad thing, it may well be worth the risk to try reconciling.
Before making your decision about divorcing or reconciling, consider your spouse's heart and evaluate whether he or she is worth rescuing.
4. Think of the future. Suzy Welch wrote the book 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea. She explains that when making a decision one should consider the impact in the short and long-term. She suggests considering the consequences of your decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years.
If you could rescue your marriage and make it good again, what could be the consequences to you, your children, and your spouse in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years? On the other hand, if you divorce your spouse, what might be the consequences in 10-10-10?
Our experience with thousands of marriages indicate 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, the marriage will be stronger after the affair than it was before the affair. No, the affair did not make it stronger. The "wake up call" and the subsequent building of a solid relationship made it stronger.
In considering 10-10-10, realize that being divorced does not automatically guarantee finding a new mate. Forgiving and reconciling can lead to a better marriage than before. Divorcing leads to being alone if you do not find another mate.