Though not always the case, infidelity can definitely destroy a marriage. Some people are incredibly understanding and willing to move past their spouse's indiscretion for the greater good of their relationship or children, but others aren't quite as able to forgive and forget. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for wanting to end the marriage after someone cheats, but for many people, they feel as though cheating brings on feelings of pain and betrayal, but more urgently, it undermines the trust. Unfortunately, a lot of couples have a hard time coming back from that.
If your spouse cheated and you're grappling with what to do, know that there's no rush to make a decision. After all, this is perhaps one of the most significant decisions you'll make in your life, so take time to think about what would be best for you. Keep reading for our top five reasons why legally separating from or divorcing the person who broke the trust in your marriage may be the best move for you.
The Trust Is Gone
It may feel like in just an instant, the revelation of an affair turns your spouse—your most trusted confidant and partner—into a stranger. Who is this person who deceived and betrayed you? How can you believe anything they say now? How can you be sure they won't have another affair? Trust is often the first and biggest casualty of infidelity, but it's also the cornerstone of any successful relationship.
Keep in mind, you may feel irreparably hurt right now, but you will be okay—no matter what you decide to do.
To ensure you don't develop any deep-seated trust issues in any future relationships, you may want to consider discussing your situation with a therapist. Though he may not be able to "fix" everything after a few sessions, they will help you work through your emotions so that this affair doesn't won't cause any more emotional damage than it has to.
Underlying Issues Are Exposed
After your spouse comes clean about their affair, it may seem like all of the issues have suddenly become more pronounced. In fact, a chicken-and-egg dilemma may even come about: Was the cheating the cause of our marital problems, or was it a manifestation of existing problems? In either situation, the infidelity brings any and all issues to the surface—and they have to be addressed before the marriage can heal, regardless of whether or not you're considering divorce.
For some couples, the problems are too deep-rooted or numerous to overcome. But for others, performing an honest evaluation of the marriage allows the partners to regroup and move forward with a clean slate.
Denial Has Become Your New Best Friend
To the faithful spouse, the affair may come as a total shock or surprise—so much so that you have a hard time accepting that it happened. Others may put blinders on and stay in with the now unhappy marriage because it's a more comfortable, secure option than confronting your cheating S.O. and possibly getting a divorce.
We're definitely not saying that anyone who decides to stay married to a spouse who cheated is in denial. In some cases, we think that a relationship may become stronger after one or both parties cheat (after extensive, honest conversations or therapy). However, if your shock and hurt keep you from acknowledging your feelings about what happened and you'd rather not say anything than risk rocking the marital boat, take some time and consider what keeping quiet may do to your self-esteem.
The Dynamic Has Completely Changed
If one of you has totally disengaged from the marriage, the other's attempts at reconciliation may become totally futile. The healing process is next to impossible unless both of you are equally willing to put in the necessary legwork to rehabilitate the marriage—whether that means attending couples' therapy or taking ownership of their missteps.
You Feel Rejected
It is totally normal to feel an aching sense of rejection if your partner has drifted into someone else's arms. You may think that they are either not attracted to you anymore or that someone else can give them something that you cannot. However, your spouse's cheating is not a reflection of you, nor is it a reason to question your own sense of self.
Unfortunately, there's probably nothing your friends or family could say to ease your emotional pain, but talking to people you love and trust will definitely provide you with a sense of comfort. One thing you definitely should not do as a result of feeling rejected is going out and have your own affair. That will only make you feel worse, even if it feels better in the moment.