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Infidelity in a marriage is a betrayal of trust, whether it’s an emotional connection they’re developing with another person, or a physical one.
It can feel earth-shattering if your partner is unfaithful to you, and for many couples, it’s too much to come back from.
But it doesn’t always have to mean the end of your marriage. With patience and work from both sides, some couples can find a way to rebuild the trust and connection that once existed between them.
But how do you know if giving it a chance is the right thing to do? You might want the relationship to recover, but is working at it is the best and healthiest decision for you?
Read on for some examples of when walking away from a marriage might be the right choice to make:
1. They show no remorse.
Saying sorry isn’t always enough. If your spouse can’t show you how truly remorseful they are, how can you trust that they aren’t just telling you what you want to hear?
It’s difficult to tell if someone is genuinely sorry, especially when the trust between you has been broken and you’re just waiting for them to put another foot wrong.
The best way to tell if they’re truly regretful is by watching their actions not their words.
Are they paying you more attention, making more effort in the relationship, and putting your happiness higher up their priority list?
If they try to justify their actions of being unfaithful and belittle how you feel, take these as major red flags.
Whatever factors led them to be unfaithful, they should at least be genuinely sorry for causing you pain.
If you feel like they’re just saying sorry to avoid facing what they’ve done, can you trust that they won’t be unfaithful again?
Unless you’ve seen a change in their behavior, how do you know they aren’t just patching things over until the next time? And do you really want to stick around to find out?
2. They don’t understand the significance of what they’ve done.
Your spouse might want to gloss over what happened and go back to normal, but you’re going to have to figure out a new normal together first.
The betrayal and all the emotions that come with it can’t just be swept aside and forgotten about.
Whether it was a flirty message, a kiss, or something more, choosing to do something behind your back that could risk your relationship is a serious problem.
They need to acknowledge the hurt that they have caused you and understand that it will take time and effort to rebuild your trust again.
You need to know that they understand the lack of respect they’ve shown you and pain they’ve caused and that you are a priority for them again.
A simple ‘sorry’ isn’t enough. If they are pushing you to move on too quickly and sweep things under the carpet, you’ll forever be resentful of the damage they’ve caused.
3. They refuse to see a professional.
No one is ever prepared to handle infidelity in their marriage. That’s why seeking the help of a professional if you want to make things work might be the best course of action for you both.
A marriage counselor is trained for situations like these, training you and your partner don’t have.
There is no shame in reaching out to someone who can help you communicate your feelings and guide you back to common ground.
But what if your partner refuses to go along with you? It could be that they are embarrassed to admit your marriage is struggling, or feel uncomfortable sharing intimate details with a stranger.
Either way, a reluctance to seek professional guidance, especially if this is something you want to pursue, suggests that they aren’t willing to go that extra mile to save what you have.
Trying to avoid facing what they have done suggests that they don’t understand the full extent of the stress they have put your relationship under, or simply don’t care.
They should want to do whatever they can to make your marriage work and show they’re willing to go the distance however uncomfortable it is for them.
If they’re not, perhaps they don’t value your relationship as much as you thought they did.
4. Nothing has changed in the relationship.
You can’t expect everything to go back to how it used to be before the affair took place. You and your spouse should be prepared for your relationship to change if you do decide to give it another go.
More than that, your relationship needs to change. You need to see your partner putting in more effort to win back your trust, spend time reconnecting, and getting comfortable around each other again.
Chances are, there were already cracks beginning to show in your marriage before your partner was unfaithful. Bad habits and neglect of a relationship can slowly culminate in infidelity, and these issues need to be addressed if you want to move on.
It’s unrealistic to expect everything to be as it once was, and if your partner is expecting this of you, you need to question how committed they are to making things work.
Making your marriage work after an affair is going to take more effort and a stronger commitment from you both than ever before. If their bad habits haven’t changed and you’re falling back into the same unhealthy relationship patterns, how can you trust history won’t repeat itself?
5. They haven’t cut ties with their affair partner.
Showing that they are 100% committed to you should be your partner’s number one priority after being unfaithful.
If they truly want your relationship to work, then their focus needs to be fully on the both of you and how to get back the bond you had.
Cutting all ties with anyone involved in their affair is the first step toward achieving this.
Whether they work with them, know them through friends, or have them on social media, you spouse needs to do everything in their power to distance themselves from them and any other source of temptation.
Without knowing they have cut all ties, you will never be able to fully trust that they won’t go back to this other person again.
Refusing to end all contact, or worse still, finding out that your partner has lied about cutting all ties, will ruin any hope of getting past the affair.
You’ll never be able to move on knowing that a small part of them doesn’t really want to.
6. The relationship hangs on you.
They might say that they are letting you take the relationship at your own pace, but that shouldn’t stop your partner from playing a part in fixing your marriage.
It shouldn’t all be down to you to try to steer your marriage back on course. Not every suggestion they make is going to be the right one, but it’s important for you to see your spouse making the effort for you to be able to develop trust and affection for them once again.
It takes two people to make a relationship work and if you don’t see them putting in their share, how do you know that they are as committed as they say?
7. You just can’t trust them again.
The trust you had in your partner to make you happy, respect you, and value your love is utterly broken after infidelity and can feel impossible to get back.
For some couples, with time, they can find a level of trust and intimacy once again, but for others, the betrayal is just too much to get past.
Trust is an essential part of a relationship. Neither of you can be truly happy if you are questioning each other’s motives or jumping to conclusions for fear you’re going to get hurt again.
You can’t, and shouldn’t, keep tabs on your partner every minute of the day. But you’ll never truly be able to relax and allow yourself to be happy if you can’t let go of the fear that they are going to be unfaithful again.
No matter how much you want things to work, if you don’t have trust, you don’t have a future.
8. There’s no physical intimacy.
Becoming physically intimate with your partner after they have been unfaithful is all part of winning back your trust.
Thinking about being intimate with your partner could trigger you into thinking about them being intimate with someone else, bringing back all the feelings of hurt and anger about their infidelity and making it hard to move on.
It might take a while to get to a place where you are comfortable being affectionate with them again, but if you’re finding it impossible to think about, the marriage probably won’t be salvageable.
Physical intimacy reinforces the bond between you and your status as a couple. If you can’t find a way to reconnect, not only will you miss out on an important part of a healthy relationship, but you could both end up unhappy, resentful, and risk more infidelity in the future.
9. You use their infidelity as a weapon.
Yes, you’re entitled to feel angry and hurt. Your emotions will be all over the place when you find out that your partner has cheated and there will no doubt be plenty of arguments and tension as you attempt to work through it.
However upset you are with them, your marriage will never survive if you use their infidelity as a weapon against them.
As tempting as it might be to bring up in the heat of an argument, using their affair in a fight to cause them pain whenever you’re feeling hurt will only push you further apart.
There has to be a point where you make the conscious decision to let it go and move on. Bringing up their mistakes will not only hurt them, but it will hurt you too.
If you find yourself unwilling to drop the subject, then maybe it’s a sign that you just can’t get over being cheated on. Some hurts are too deep and its best to allow the both of you to move on and find happiness with someone else.
10. They refuse to take responsibility.
To be able to move on from your partner’s infidelity, you need to see that they are genuinely remorseful, and will take responsibility for their actions.
Even if it was a culmination of factors that led to them being unfaithful, ultimately it was their choice, and only their choice to act on impulse and risk your relationship.
If your partner keeps blaming everyone else for the situation rather than themselves, then there is a problem.
It’s even worse if they start trying to put the blame on you for causing them to cheat. Not only is this not taking responsibility for their actions, but this sort of behavior is manipulative and dangerous and is a red flag that your marriage has turned toxic.
Blaming other people rather than taking responsibility for the part they played in the affair suggests that your partner either doesn’t really believe they were in the wrong or that they don’t understand the severity of what they have done.
Either way, if your partner can’t acknowledge their actions, they won’t be able to work on them, making it hard to trust that they won’t do the same again.
11. You’re trying to make it work for the wrong reasons.
If you’ve been together a while, the marriage stops being about just the two of you.
Your families, friends, and finances all become entwined. You might live together, have a pet, or even children together.
A divorce can mean the separation of so much more than just each other. The idea of disentangling from each other’s lives can seem too daunting to face.
Regardless of how many obstacles seem to be in your way of leaving and how many people it would affect, unless you’re staying because you genuinely want to make it work with your spouse, then it’s not going to.
Being unhappy together in a relationship is not fulfilling for either of you and will end up negatively affecting all those people you thought you were staying together for.
You’ll stop socializing with the joint friendship group, your families will know there is something wrong, and your children will start believing that this negative interaction is what a relationship should look like.
No matter how hard it is, your happiness should come first. If both your hearts aren’t in it, you’re just prolonging the inevitable.
12. You just can’t move on.
You might have really wanted it to work out. You’ve tried talking it through, your partner is making an effort, you’ve tried marriage counseling, but still you can’t let it go.
Not everyone can come back from infidelity. With the best will in the world, sometimes that betrayal of trust just affects you too deeply to be able to move on from it.
Not being able to look at your partner in the same way, no matter how hard you try, means the relationship is effectively over.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything to make it work, you can walk away from it knowing you gave it your best shot. Not all relationships have a happy ending.
Recognize if you can’t let it go and put yourself first. Do both of you a favor and allow each other to find happiness elsewhere.
If one of you has been unfaithful, your marriage isn’t going to snap back to normal overnight. It’s going to take time, patience, and a lot of work to bring you both back to a stable and loving place.
Choosing to stay and trying to make things work doesn’t mean it’s always going to. Sometimes infidelity can be the catalyst we need to admit that the marriage was never meant to be.
Time is a healer, and you’ll definitely need plenty of it to recover from an affair. But only you know, deep down, if you are truly able to make your marriage work again.
Be honest with yourself with what it is you are trying to save. Do you genuinely still want to be with this person, or is it just pride or the fear of being alone that is making you stay?
Even if you are committed for all the right reasons and believe you can give things another go, there could still come a point when you have to face the difficult decision of whether or not to stay. As long as you can say you tried, there can be no shame or regret in admitting defeat.
Still not sure what to do about your marriage? Want to talk things through with someone? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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