Should You Forgive a Cheating Spouse?
Every marriage goes through its own cycle of ups and downs. While most of these small hiccups are usually easy to sort out once the partners get down to it, infidelity gives rise to much graver issues. Trust is the foundation of a marriage, and when an unfaithful partner strikes a blow at the underlying base, the whole structure of marriage is in danger of collapse.
Infidelity in a marriage has not only personal and moral consequences, but also legal implications. Marriage is ultimately a contract between two willing parties – to love, support and trust each other through happy as well as adverse circumstances. When either party violates the contract in the form of adultery, it suffices as a ground for divorce. Every divorce brings with it its own share of trauma, for the couple as well as for the kids. There may, be however, some circumstances in which you could forgive a straying spouse and give your marriage another chance.
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Consider if it is a first time incident
If it is the first time your spouse has cheated on you, maybe you could ignore it this one time. Even the law is relatively more lenient towards first time offenders! However, consider the incident as a warning sign on the health of your marital relationship. Discuss with your spouse, what led him or her to seek love outside marriage.
Hear your spouse out
After your partner has admitted to cheating on you, consider what else your partner has to say. Is he really sorry for the trauma that he has put you through? Is she ready to take genuine steps to mend the bond of trust that has been broken? If your partner seems sincerely sorry for the episode of infidelity and is willing to make amends, maybe you can give the marriage another chance to see how it works out.
Try to see things from your partner’s point of view
The news of your partner’s infidelity may have brought your world crashing down. At the same time, try to see how your cheating spouse has been probably bearing the burden of guilt and shame for quite some time. Confessing an affair to a spouse cannot be the easiest of things to do, especially in a marriage which has previously been happy and loving. Realize that by confessing, the straying partner is making himself extremely vulnerable to your reactions and has given you the ultimate power to either break the marriage or give it a fighting chance.
Weigh the pros and cons
Keep in mind the specific circumstances of the infidelity, before you walk out of the marriage. You may find that your spouse’s positive characteristics are far greater than the negative points which led to a momentary lapse in judgment. Despite the one incident of straying, he may still be a good provider or she may be the best mom in the world. This is not to say that you should gloss over betrayal for the sake of your family, but the very fact that your spouse continues to take his or her family responsibilities seriously, means that your being together is still important to him or her.
Actions speak louder...
The best way to respond to a confession of an affair from your partner, is to let a few days pass before taking a final decision. Your spouse may claim to be genuinely sorry and seem appropriately contrite, but has he or she taken any positive action towards regaining your trust? Has your partner broken all forms of contact with the other person? Is your husband actually doing more, to be a responsible person, or is your wife really spending more time with the family? These questions will help you to decide whether there is truly any sense in forgiving your cheating spouse and give the marriage another chance.
However in some situations it does not make much sense to forgive your straying spouse. Consider walking out of the marriage if you find that...
Your spouse is a habitual offender
In the heart of your hearts, you already know the answer to this one. A person who has made a habit of cheating on you, is extremely unlikely to change despite your ultimatums. Such people have a kind of behavioural compulsion to transgress repeatedly and the sooner you can rid yourself of such a spouse, the better.
Your spouse apologizes profusely but does not really do anything
Cheating on a spouse is the worst way to break the trust which lies at the foundation of every marriage. It is the responsibility of a straying partner, to rebuild the trust that has been broken and thus repair the relationship. If you see that despite saying sorry for the affair, your partner is not ready to bring in any substantial changes in his or her ways, consider putting the marriage behind you. If he or she continues to behave as before, while the emotional gaps in your marriage lie unfilled, it is only a matter of time before another affair happens.
You or your children are in danger
If you find that your partner has been engaging in some dangerous or grossly immoral act, like seducing an underage, person or mixing extra-marital sex with drugs or weapons, it is crucial that you take all steps to protect yourself and your children. It is best to leave such a partner, as he or she is far more deeply troubled than can be helped by a forgiving spouse.
In the final analysis, the decision whether or not you should forgive your cheating spouse, is best taken by you. Asking 12 different people the same question will give you 12 different answers. After all, you are the only one to whom the situation is known in all its detail and significance. However, whether you decide to forgive or forget your straying partner, be sure to forgive yourself first. Remember that none of this is your doing and you are not the victim. Believing this, will empower you to control your own response and deal with the situation with a clear head and a true heart.