What do you do when your spouse cheats on you?
Everyone seems to have an opinion. You probably did before it happened to you.
But when you’re going through infidelity in your own relationship, the lines seem to blur between what you feel and what you think the ‘right’ thing to do is.
The only person who can decide what’s ‘right’ for your marriage is you, and even you might be confused about what that means at this precise moment.
You’ve committed to a life by someone’s side; someone you love and trusted completely. But they’ve risked it all for the sake of a relationship or fling with someone else.
You probably think that you should hate them and end your marriage immediately. But when it comes down to it, it’s not so easy to forget the love you still have for this person and all the history you share together.
You didn’t choose for this to happen, so it’s only fair that you take some time to think about what it is you really want.
If your partner is telling you they regret what they’ve done and want to give your marriage another chance, it makes the situation even harder to understand. Should you trust them? Can you get over what they’ve done? Will your relationship ever be the same after this?
There are a lot of things to consider if your partner has been unfaithful to you. Your circumstances will be unique, so the only thing you can do is be led by what you think will make you happy in the long run.
You might not have all the answers right at this moment. All you can do is put your own needs first and take one day at a time.
Keep reading for some things to think about if you’re feeling uncertain over your next move.
1. Can you forgive them?
Have you thought about whether or not your relationship can really recover?
For your marriage to work, you’re going to have to reach a point where you can let go of what’s happened and fully forgive your spouse for what they’ve done. You might think that you can do this, but can you really?
You might be trying to repair your marriage because your partner is telling you they’ve made a mistake and still want to be with you, or you feel like you have too much history to end the relationship now.
Perhaps you’re giving your marriage another go because the idea of starting again without them or with someone new just seems too daunting.
It wasn’t your choice to jeopardize this relationship, but you’re left having to work to keep it alive. The real question is not necessarily whether you want to make it work, but can you?
When someone has broken your heart like that and risked everything you have, it can be almost impossible to move on from it. You’re going to have to start from scratch, learning how to trust them again and getting to know the person they are now.
It’s going to be hard to forgive your partner. Not just for being with someone else, but for putting you through this emotional trauma and making you feel insecure in everything that you relied on.
Can you let your partner go on a night out without worrying that they’ll cheat on you? Do you start to panic if they say they have to ‘work late’ and you haven’t heard from them for a while? Do you imagine them with someone else every time you try to get intimate with each other?
If you can’t forgive and move on, then neither of you are ever going to be happy. Every argument you have will find its way back to the affair and open up the same old wounds. It will become this toxic cloud over the future of your relationship, eating away at its foundation and leaving you forever insecure and distrustful.
Just because your partner wants to give your marriage another chance, doesn’t mean it’s the right relationship for you anymore. You shouldn’t stay in something you’re unhappy with just because you’re scared of what life will look like without them.
You can’t live in fear that your partner is going to be unfaithful to you again. And if you can’t move on from what they’ve done, it’s better to admit that to yourself now and start putting your energy toward figuring out what your future might look like.
It’s not what you asked for, but leaving this relationship behind could open new doors that you never imagined were there, and will make you both happier in the long run.
2. Why are you trying to save your marriage?
So you decide to try to heal from the infidelity and give your marriage (and partner) another chance.
There is no right or wrong answer for what to do in this situation because every relationship is different. You might think that with some marriage counseling and honest conversations, the two of you can move on from what has happened.
But are you trying to save your marriage for the right reasons? Why is it you haven’t already walked away?
Everyone has their own motivations for trying to make their relationship work. You might live together or own a house. You could have a family or pets together that would be disrupted by a separation. You’ve got years of shared history that you can’t imagine throwing away, and life with your partner is the only one you’ve ever known.
They’re all compelling reasons, but none of them are a strong enough reason to stay with someone after they’ve cheated on you.
You’ve been put into a situation that you never imagined would happen to you. Everything you’ve known and believed about your partner has been taken away from you, and you’re left having to make the hard choices.
You can’t go back to the relationship you had before their infidelity because neither of you are the same people anymore. Staying together, as much as it might seem like the easier option, might not be easy at all.
Giving your marriage another try will be like starting a new relationship all over again, and if you’re not doing it for the sake of your own happiness, then it’s going to be a difficult and unsuccessful effort.
The idea of starting again with someone else is a scary prospect, especially when it was never something you wanted or thought you’d have to do. You made your marriage vows with the intention that you’d only ever be with one person for the rest of your life.
You might feel overwhelmed or guilty at the idea of separating and breaking those vows, but if you’re trying to stay together for anything other than the fact that you genuinely want to, then you’re both just going to be unhappy and make everyone else around you unhappy too.
You’re the one that has to live this relationship day to day. If you stick together, you’ve signed up for life, and do you really want to spend the rest of your life in a marriage you have no confidence in?
If you want your marriage to work, make sure you’re doing it for the sake of your own happiness first, before you think about anyone else.
3. Do you have support around you?
Even if you’re embarrassed about the situation or find it too personal to share, you need to have a support network you can rely on if you’re going to get through this difficult period.
You need an outlet; a group of people close to you that you can rely on and that you can go to when you’re feeling emotional and need to talk things through.
There will be times when you just need space, and someone you can call on any time, anywhere, who can give you that safe and comforting home away from your partner, even just for a night.
You’re going to be experiencing a lot of emotions if your spouse has been unfaithful. You might think you should protect your relationship by ignoring the issues between you, but that could lead to you either bottling up your feelings or constantly fighting, both of which are exhausting.
Speaking to close friends and family is a way to air out everything you feel in a safe and non-judgmental space, so you can better approach the conversations you need to have with your partner.
Having a support network is the comfort and security you need through a time where you feel lost and uncertain.
Friends and family can be protective, and you have to be mindful about the influence they are having on you and opinions they are expressing about the situation. If you’ve been hurt by your partner, your loved ones might be emotional too, with anger against your partner for upsetting you and putting you in the position you’re in now.
If they are telling you to leave your partner or being hostile toward them, as much as these actions might be coming from a place of love and protection, it won’t help you make a decision that’s best for you.
You need to find a group of people who are there for you no matter what, and won’t try to pressure you into fitting with their own agenda. You need a neutral space to express what you feel without judgment or repercussions. Friends like this are hard to find, but you’re going to need them if you’re giving this marriage another chance.
And you shouldn’t underestimate the value of having a completely neutral third party to talk to. A therapist of some sort can be a lifeline for your mental well-being when you don’t feel able to talk to anyone else.
4. Has your partner shown you they can change?
They’ve asked you to give them a second chance and to take them back after their infidelity. They’ve promised to do whatever it takes to make you happy and your marriage work.
Maybe for the first few days or weeks, this seemed like it was true. Your partner was making more of an effort to check in with you, communicate more, come home earlier, spend more quality time together…
…but now things seem to be slipping back to how they used to be.
If you see your partner turning back toward their old habits, can you completely trust everything they’ve promised you?
When faced with the option of losing a relationship, especially if your partner is saying all the right things, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and convince yourself it will all be okay.
But do you really believe that they can change in the ways they say they will?
Infidelity is usually the result of some prior issues in a relationship. You might have not been spending enough quality time together, or arguing a lot. You might have struggled to communicate with each other, always waiting to hear from them if they ever went on a night out, or having to cope with them going AWOL for a few days at a time.
They’ve told you they’ll be more affectionate, spend more time with you, and give back to the relationship. They’ve promised you that they won’t go out or work as much, and will always let you know where they are and when they’ll be home. But unless they are consistently making good on these promises right from the start, you know that the problems between you are just too big to overcome.
Even if someone genuinely wants to change for the better, it’s not going to be easy and no one can ever be perfect. But if you see your partner consciously trying their best, you can trust that they are committed to making your marriage work.
If they aren’t showing that they are committed to this relationship in all the ways they’ve promised, then as hard as it is to face, you know that your issues are probably insurmountable. You will always be worried that they will be unfaithful again and the problems you had in your marriage before the affair will still be there and may even lead to your partner doing the same thing again.
If they can’t change now when everything is at stake, then they never will. And do you really want to commit to a life like that?
5. Have you addressed past issues in your relationship?
People rarely cheat without some sort of reason.
You might have thought that your relationship was in a solid, secure place, but your partner thought differently. Now is the opportunity to find out where the weak spots were in your marriage and to see if there is a chance to fix them so that infidelity is never a problem again.
Talk to your partner about how they were feeling before they were unfaithful. What was it they felt they needed to get from someone else that they weren’t getting from your marriage?
Relationships can always be improved and worked on, especially if you’ve been together for some time. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and lose the passion and excitement of a new relationship as time goes on. Understandably, it can be difficult to keep that spark alive.
Talk about how you can recapture that spark together and if there is anything either of you would like to try or do more of. It could be that you need to try to develop more of a sexual connection and have more fun in the bedroom, or commit to spending more quality time with each other.
It’s not just the sexual chemistry that might need working on. Have a conversation about how you communicate with each other and if there are any areas for improvement.
It might be that your partner was looking for a confidence boost or just a way to escape the pressure and responsibilities of home. You might not have been aware of how they were feeling before they cheated on you, so now is the opportunity to get it all out in the open and work on making positive changes.
A person won’t cheat if they are content with everything they already have. If you want to save your marriage, your partner’s problems become your problems. You will have to address your past so you can have a better future.
6. Do you need to take any accountability?
The decision to be unfaithful and break your marriage vows was your partner’s and your partner’s alone. They have to be accountable for that choice. If they are trying to tell you that you ‘made them’ cheat then that’s not only false, but it’s also manipulative and not something you should entertain.
You should never accept blame for causing your spouse to cheat, but there’s something to be said for taking a closer look at what your relationship was like before your partner was unfaithful and identifying if there was anything you’d do differently.
By taking responsibility for any mistakes you’d been making in your relationship prior to your partner being unfaithful, you can both work together to fix those problems going forward.
As one half of this marriage, it’s up to you to keep it strong just as much as it’s up to your spouse.
Were you always affectionate? How did you speak to your partner? Did you build their confidence up or were you emotionally unavailable? Were you putting pressure on them in a way that you didn’t realize?
Their mistake is absolutely not your fault. It was their decision to cross the line and be unfaithful. But scrutinizing the lead up to the affair and identifying areas in your relationship that you could have handled differently will help you address what is in your power to change and help your relationship come out of this stronger.
7. Is the affair over?
Can you trust that your partner has completely ended the extramarital affair?
You won’t be able to move forward in your marriage if you’re still wondering if they are seeing or speaking to someone else. If you’re constantly thinking about whether they are in touch with an ex or still interested in talking to anyone else, it will eat away at your confidence in your partner and yourself.
Is your partner being secretive? Are they being vague about calls or messages they’re getting? Do they hide their phone from you?
When they’ve been unfaithful, it’s always going to be hard to completely trust that your partner has broken off previous relationships, however big or small. When you’ve been lied to once, how can you really know they aren’t lying to you again?
All you can do is have faith in them, but they need to do whatever they can to prove to you that any extramarital relationships are well and truly at an end.
Being totally transparent with you, with where they’re going, who they’re meeting, and not hiding away any of their private emails or messages are just some of the ways they can show you that you can trust them and that they are committed to your marriage and your marriage only.
Don’t let your spouse gaslight you by convincing you that they have a legitimate reason to be in contact with someone when their intentions for being so are suspicious. This type of behavior is manipulative and toxic. You shouldn’t be made to feel crazy for being suspicious of someone if your partner is giving you reason to feel that way.
After being unfaithful, your partner should be doing everything in their power to make you feel comfortable and secure again. They shouldn’t want to put you under any additional worry or stress. If they are still in contact with anyone that they cheated on you with, then they aren’t prepared to change and they aren’t respecting you in the way you deserve.
8. Think about what you want to know before you ask.
In the heat of the moment when you have just found out that your spouse has been cheating on you, your reaction could go one of two ways. Either you’ll think that you want to know every single detail of what went on and demand that they tell you there and then, or you’ll want to bury your head in the sand and just pretend that none of it ever happened.
Before you make any big decision about what you do and don’t want to know about your partner’s infidelity, take some time to process what you’re feeling and try to make sense of all the emotions you’re going through.
If you ask your partner to tell you everything that happened, you might hear something you’re not ready for and don’t want to know. Whatever they say is going to be painful to hear, and sometimes knowing all the details isn’t the best thing for you to be able to heal and move on.
Anything your partner tells you can’t be taken back, and if you want to make your marriage work, you’re going to have to live with the knowledge of all the sordid details you asked to be told about.
On the other hand, if you try to avoid dealing with the situation completely, although it might help you cope in the short term, your own imagination could start plaguing you and building up scenarios that are much worse than what actually occurred.
You need to know enough to feel as though you can make the right decision about whether or not to give your marriage a second chance. But you don’t want to know so much that you can’t move past the details.
Only you know how much knowledge of the situation will help you or haunt you. Try to give yourself a chance to consider the consequences before making any big decisions that could affect the future of your relationship.
9. Ride out all of your emotions.
If you’re coping with infidelity in your marriage, then you’re going to be feeling every different type of emotion. So much will be running through your mind that it’s going to be difficult to make sense of everything you’re thinking and how to get from one day to the next when your world has been turned upside down.
You might be feeling angry, betrayed, intense sadness, a loss of confidence, disbelief, and shock, to name just a few emotions. Whether you need to shout or cry or have some space, the only person you need to be thinking about at this moment is yourself.
There’s no right or wrong way to get through this situation. Don’t put pressure on yourself to manage the problem in a certain way. Whatever you’re feeling right now is okay. Do what feels right for you and don’t rush yourself into pretending everything is fine when it’s not.
The only way to process what’s happened and gradually move past the pain of it all is to let yourself work through your emotions at your own pace.
Even if you’re committed to giving your marriage another go, it might take months or years to adjust to the new dynamic of your relationship, so don’t be hard on yourself if you have days when you feel like you’re going backwards.
Let yourself ride through the emotions as they come. There isn’t a deadline for you to get over everything that’s happened, and everyone’s coping mechanisms are different.
Whatever advice you’re getting from other people, or even pressure from your spouse, don’t disregard how you feel or think that what you’re experiencing isn’t valid or important.
You are the only one that can pull yourself out of dark and difficult times. Rushing to make everything ‘better’ again will only leave the situation half fixed and any unresolved feelings will keep haunting you.
Let your emotions run their course, whatever they are, and you’ll come out stronger with a better appreciation and understanding of yourself in the end.
10. If you make the decision to commit to your marriage, stick with it.
Taking your partner back when they’ve been unfaithful is a personal decision only you can make.
Moving past infidelity in a marriage will be a long and difficult road and you’re going to have times when you question if you can make it work.
It will be hard to let go of the anger and resentment you feel. The person you trusted most in the world has let you down and betrayed you. No amount of apologies or how much they regret what they’ve done can take away the pain they’ve caused you, and they will never realize how much it hurts to be in your shoes.
If you still want your marriage to work, you have to find a way to not let the injustice of the situation overwhelm you. It can be difficult, especially in later arguments, not to bring up your spouse’s infidelity as a weapon against them. But at some point, even if it doesn’t seem fair, you have to put all those feelings behind you and 100% commit to giving this new start a real go.
The knowledge of what your partner did might never leave you, but if you want to get your relationship back on track, you have to start afresh alongside them. Bringing up their mistakes will only keep the toxicity alive in your relationship and remind each other of your worst times. Every step forward you take will go backwards again if you can’t trust each other not to bring it up.
There comes a point where a person can’t say they’re sorry any more than they already have or do any more to show you that they mean it when they say they care for you. It’s at that point that you have to decide whether you can really live this new life with your partner and leave their infidelity in the past.
Not everyone will be able to let go of what their partner has done and there is no shame in that. Some pain just runs too deep and the trust between you is too broken to fix. But don’t add more pain to the situation and make the two of you more miserable by trying to give your relationship a go when you know you can’t move on from your partner’s mistake.
Be honest with yourself, and with them, before you choose what the future of your relationship is going to look like. If you can’t let go of the past and move on, then you have to let go of them.
11. Try speaking to a therapist.
You might be used to keeping your relationship private, especially through the difficult times. And the idea of speaking to a complete stranger about it might not exactly appeal to you.
But trying to navigate your relationship through a period of infidelity will throw everything you knew and trusted into question, and you might be feeling a little lost with where your relationship is headed.
The backlash of your partner’s infidelity might not have only affected your relationship, but have rocked you to the point that it’s affecting your work life, social life, and family life, and leave you struggling to focus and find happiness again.
This is when a therapist can help, even if you’ve never considered talking to one before.
Friends and family will all have their own opinions on the situation, and even if their advice is coming from a good place, it will be hard for them not to offer biased opinions or put pressure on you to feel a certain way.
Equally, as strong as you think you are, having someone you love betray you will shake you to your core. It will demolish your confidence and trust in people and start making you question every aspect of your relationship and your self-worth.
When you’re trying to manage all different kinds of emotions and stress at once, having a neutral, third party whose only agenda is to listen to you and help you make sense of how you feel, might be just what you need to feel normal again.
Therapy doesn’t just have to be for you, you could suggest it to your partner to help them work out why they did what they did and how to make a positive change going forward. You may also want to consider couples counseling – a place where a professional therapist can help you communicate better with each other when you’re feeling so confused and distant.
A therapist is trained in dealing with situations like this, unlike us. Reaching out to someone who can help doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken or unable to fix your relationship yourself; it just shows you’re committed to finding a way toward the best and most positive future for you.
No one wants to have to face infidelity in their marriage. It not only destroys your confidence in your partner, but it brings into question every good memory you’ve shared as you wonder where it was that things started to go wrong.
Don’t let your spouse’s mistake take away your confidence in yourself as a good person and good partner. But most of all, don’t let it rob you of the happy moments you’ve had in this marriage.
Whether your relationship is destined to work remains to be seen, but it doesn’t need to be defined by this one bad mistake. If you want to give your marriage another go, then go for it. But if you’re struggling to find the joy in your relationship again, it might be time to let it go.
Marriage is for life, and that’s the commitment you signed up for. But you deserve a life full of love and happiness, not worrying about whether your spouse is having an affair or wondering if you’re enough.
Breaking up with your partner might not have been something you ever thought you’d consider, but your own happiness has to be your number one priority. This is your chance to take the reins of your future back into your hands.
Take one day at a time and celebrate every positive step, whether that be working toward a new future with your spouse or without them. There’s no easy way to get through this, but every day you get through is an achievement and will only make it easier tomorrow.
This is your chance to think for yourself and prioritize what you want out of life. Don’t be pressured by anyone else into doing anything they think you should. Just concentrate on making your heart whole again and not let this negative experience define who you are.
You may also like:
- 17 Steps To Forgive A Cheating Partner And Get Over Infidelity
- 12 Signs It’s Time To Walk Away From A Marriage After Infidelity
- Need To Know Details Of Their Infidelity? Do This
- Should You Confront The Other Woman? What You Need To Know
- How To Confront A Cheating Spouse: 11 Tips To Help You Through It
- How To Tell If He/She Will Cheat Again: 10 Clues To Look For
- 14 Reasons Why Men And Women Cheat On Those They Love
- 13 Steps To Dealing With Betrayal And Getting Over The Hurt
- 14 Signs Of An Emotional Affair (+ 11 Reasons People Have Them)
- 16 Tips For Saving Your Marriage After Cheating On Your Spouse