9 Signs Your Marriage Is Over After One Of You Cheats

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The Signs Your Marriage Is Over After Infidelity

Okay, so the unthinkable happened.

Your spouse has admitted — or you’ve discovered — that they are having an affair, has a fling, or is attracted to another person. And while the earth may still be solidly under your feet, you wish it would open and swallow you (or your spouse!) up, whole.

Your world is no longer the same. The person you trusted with your life is now holding a knife to your throat and you feel as if the blood has already been drawn.

There is no other feeling like this.

Fight or flight only begins to scratch the surface of what starts happening in your body. You feel like you’re dying and you also want to kill someone with your bare hands.

I know how much pain you’re in. I’ve felt it. From all angles.

I experienced it as a child desperately trying to make sense of what were very adult issues; as an adult, when my own (less than honorable) actions unintentionally hurt someone I loved. And at the end of my first marriage, when I went through indescribable trauma, pain, and suffering, which quickly turned to a type of rage I’ve never felt before or since, and hope sincerely to never feel again.

RELATED: The Harsh Reality Of Cheating On The Person You Love

I can say, with first-hand knowledge, that infidelity is one of the greatest betrayals we’ll ever experience. Out of control emotions — sadness, bitterness, hopelessness, utter rage — surge through, rendering us almost incapable of thinking, or doing anything at all.

You’ve never felt so crazy. You’re hot mad or ice cold. Four letter words can become the mainstay of your vocabulary, even if you’ve rarely uttered one before.

Betrayal calls everything into question. Why did this happen? Was it me? Am I not enough? Where was she? Who’s the other person? When did it start?

You keep yourself up at night, going over what you know and what you don’t know. What happened? Where do I go from here? Can my marriage survive? Can trust be rebuilt? Is there still love?

The answers to these questions are as individual as you are. However, it is true that some marriages can be saved after the heart-wrenching pain of betrayal, while others sadly cannot. How do you know which situation is yours?

Seeking The Answers

Affairs are almost commonplace these days. According to a recent study, 41 percent percent of marriages have at least one spouse who’s admitted to either physical or emotional infidelity. That’s a staggering number. You’re not alone.

It’s human nature to feel attraction. It’s whether or not we choose to act on it. What type of boundaries do we have in place? Is it okay to be flirty? Is it okay to have a close friend of the opposite sex who we share intimate secrets with? Where do we draw the line?

And what constitutes infidelity? Is it kissing? Is it sex? Is it sending or receiving naked photos? Is it provocative texting? Is it sharing deep emotions with someone you’re attracted to, who’s not your spouse? Is it all of the above?

There are as many reasons why people cheat, as there are ways in which to be unfaithful.

I don’t say this to condone or excuse anyone’s bad behavior, but to explain that we may never know the real reason why or the full extent of what actually happened. And that spending tons of time and energy trying to figure out all the gory details of your spouse’s affair may actually re-traumatize and keep you stuck.

There’s a fine line between getting clarity and answers and suffering indefinitely while drowning in pain.

And while it may provide some relief to know everything, and it certainly would be beneficial to understand and forgive your spouse for his trespasses, this isn’t an article on the origins or impulses of infidelity, nor is it a story on developing compassion or forgiveness.

We’re going to look at your spouse’s behavior and hold it up to the litmus test of: is your marriage is past the point of no return — is it absolutely over? This article is teaching those signs — the ones that indicate your marriage is over after infidelity, and show for certain that it’s time to move on.

The Signs Your Marriage Is Over After Infidelity

While some marriages can be resuscitated — and even made stronger — after betrayal, many others require divorce as the necessary and possibly the only choice.

Infidelity and the actions of your spouse can damage your relationship beyond repair. Cheating in and of itself won’t necessarily end your marriage. How you and your spouse handle the fallout from the affair will. It takes hard work, dedication, and honesty to stay together.

You may be someone who knows immediately that staying after betrayal is not for you and the moment there’s infidelity, you’re out. The good news is that you have a clear direction. You know in your heart and soul, that you cannot stay.

RELATED: The Brutal, Unfiltered Truth About Recovering From A Cheating Spouse

For the rest of us, the answer is not so black and white. We’re not sure. We’ve got children together, our lives are enmeshed and entwined in ways that we’d like to not unravel.

We’re open to the possibility of forgiveness or taking this as a wake-up call, realizing that our marriage is in trouble, and maybe together we can do something about it.

Most therapists say that while infidelity is traumatic and painful, it’s not one of the top reasons that marriages fail. An affair may be symptomatic of a potentially larger problem, and the infidelity can be the wake-up call to action and identifying the real issues in your relationship.

The true test comes with how you both handle the aftermath of the betrayal. Those are the actions that will make or break your relationship.

1. Only one of you is working.

You or your spouse can’t save your marriage all on your own.

Are you and your partner willing to do what it takes to heal your relationship? Are you both open to going to therapy? Are you interested in spending more time together as a couple or as a family? Are you expressing how important the marriage is and how you’ll each do whatever it takes to make it better?

Rebuilding trust takes time and hard work. You will be required to remain present and vulnerable to someone who has hurt you, communicating your needs, and sharing what will make you feel more safe and secure in the relationship.

If only one of you is trying to save your relationship, the chances for its success are slim to none. It requires you both to seriously work towards rebuilding trust, forging forgiveness, and returning to love.

2. The cheating spouse goes on the offensive.

Often, the person cheating will initially go on the offensive — pointing fingers at their partner and blaming them for the affair. They might even accuse the innocent spouse of invading or betraying their privacy.

Is your spouse blaming you for the affair? Do they say the betrayal was because of your actions?

There may be a grain of truth in your spouse’s claims, and if you’re in a generous state of mind, you can ask yourself if this applies to your situation: Have you been working long hours? Spending all of your free time at the gym or with friends? Were you caught up in family life and too tired to carve out any one-on-one time with your spouse?

Sometimes, there are valid complaints, but it’s hard to hear or consider your part in it when you’re in so much pain and your spouse’s actions are so egregious! I encourage you to take control of what you can. Maybe your part in the situation is only 3 percent while your spouse’s is 97 percent.

Taking the high road means doing your share of the work towards improving your marriage, even if it’s only a small percentage.

Most importantly, pay attention to how your spouse is communicating with you. Are they taking any responsibility for their actions or is it all your fault? Do they appreciate your taking some of the responsibility? Is it softening their position?

If it’s only your fault or your spouse does not move off of the offensive/attacking position, these are not good signs.

3. The cheating spouse takes no responsibility.

If your spouse is not on the offensive, they may be on the defensive and making all kinds of excuses for their bad behavior. Or they may be acting as a victim of the affair, as if they have no responsibility for their actions?

Has your spouse sincerely apologized for their actions and for hurting you? Are they willing and able to take ownership for the affair and be sincere in their efforts to make amends?

How remorseful is your spouse? Do they demonstrate feelings of regret and guilt? Without genuine remorse, the future of your relationship looks bleak.

Confessing and apologizing for the betrayal isn’t enough, your spouse will have to be willing to do whatever you need; which initially might seem a little bit manic or crazy, like checking in on them 14 times per day, and needing an update, encouragement, or validation.

Sometimes, the infidelity is the dynamite that blows up the already condemned building. The marriage was in dire straights for many years. You were more like roommates, rather than husband and wife. Two satellites orbiting the same planet, with no real interaction, collaboration, or connection.

If this is your situation, how willing are you and your spouse to look at the state of your relationship before the affair and take responsibility for your actions?

One of the most indicative signs that your marriage is over is when your spouse and/or you refuse to accept responsibility.

4. They lie or avoid talking about the affair.

Are you and your spouse willing to be honest with each other, and establish a space where communication can happen?

It’s crucial for your spouse to share details about the extent of the affair — how long it lasted, what personal information about the marriage they shared, and answer any questions that you want answers to (word of caution here: remember about not wallowing in the pain and suffering).

Healing won’t happen unless your spouse is willing to participate in the conversation openly and honestly, in a reassuring way, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Is your spouse open to answering your questions honestly? Do they deflect your questions? Or never seem to have time to have a deep conversation? When talking, how is their body language? Are they giving you their undivided attention?

The more you can listen with an open heart and some compassion, the more you will learn. It is up to you to hold a space where your spouse can talk about things they will most likely feel guilty or ashamed of.

Look first to your behavior, if you are bringing the compassion, but your spouse still cannot share these details, proceed with caution.

Without honesty, there is no hope for a successful reconciliation. Without details about the affair, how can you know the depths of the betrayal and what (or whether) you’re willing to forgive?

Additional note: If you decide to move forward, be aware that it will be intensely damaging if your spouse withholds information, which you then find out about from another source. This just leads to a feeling of betrayal all over again.

The only way through this is with caring, compassionate, and complete honesty.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Know It's Safe To Trust Again After the Affair

5. There is a lack of accountability.

The initial period after discovery of infidelity is a time of increased accountability; it doesn’t last, but it’s an important step. You need total transparency, and the ability to see back up information to verify what your spouse is telling you.

If they are not open to sharing information about passwords, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, credit card bills, information about their whereabouts, and the like, it will be very difficult to rebuild the trust needed for a healthy relationship.

6. The cheating spouse displays contempt and other unhealthy behaviors.

Is your spouse treating you with disrespect during this vulnerable time? Are they mocking you? Are they using unnecessary sarcasm, hostile humor, name-calling, mimicking, or disrespectful body language, such as eye-rolling or sneering?

According to marriage expert John Gottman, expressing contempt is one of the signs your marriage is over. Words and actions that are fueled by contempt lead to more conflict and disconnection, rather than to reconciliation.

Is your spouse acting selfishly, shady, or otherwise untrustworthy? Do they continue to do things behind your back and without your knowledge? Does your spouse build you up, or put you down? Are you critical of each other? These are all clear and dangerous warning signs of a relationship in serious trouble.

7. They are still connected with their affair partner.

Has your spouse broken off contact with the other woman or man? It is nearly impossible to rebuild trust if that person is still in your spouse’s life.

Many affairs happen with people in the workplace, making for further complicated situations. To what lengths is your spouse willing to limit his interactions?

If you’re getting nothing but excuses, such as "We work together, I have to see her", rather than a willingness to make changes (transfer, change jobs, switch teams, departments, or locations), pay careful attention.

Not willing to delete the other man or woman off social media, email, or contacts is also another reason for concern. Keep an eye on how sincere your spouse is in severing ties. Today, there are so many more ways to stay connected.

One last thing to note here, is your spouse willing to notify you if the person they had the affair with reaches out and tries to maintain the connection? If they won’t agree to this — or worse, say that they do agree, but then keeps an attempt at contact from you— it’s a bad sign.

You want total honesty in this department. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly wondering, and any trust you may have gained will be lost.

8. They show no concern for your sexual health.

After a sexual affair, you both may be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Is your spouse proactively offering to get tested? And are they willing to show you the results of those tests?

This is an important step in rebuilding trust as well as a feeling of physical safety.

9. They show a state of indifference.

Do you or your spouse not care about the marriage anymore? Are you too exhausted, tired, or hurt to work on it? If you or your spouse simply don’t care, this type of indifference is one of the biggest warning signs that your marriage is over.

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s apathy.

Deciding whether to stay or go after a betrayal is an incredibly personal decision. For me, I chose to stay in it and stay open for as long as I could — all the while watching for signs.

Actions and words are powerful, they tell us so much if we keep our eyes open and pay attention.

The good news is, you get to do this in your own way, and in your own time. If the affair just happened, I want to give you permission to not make any immediate decisions (unless you or your children are in danger — your safety is always paramount).

Take your time, feel your emotions, and watch your partner.

RELATED: 4 Loving Things Unhappy Husbands Should Do INSTEAD Of Cheating

Kira Gould is a certified divorce coach. If you’ve decided there are too many signs, and that your marriage is over after the infidelity, then reach out to Kira. She'll help you find practical, and healthy ways to deal with that reality. Supporting you to make choices based on your morals and values, rather than your first reactions, and guiding you along the high road towards acceptance and wisdom.

This article was originally published at getting-unmarried.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.