Does your partner deserve a second chance after being unfaithful? If you’re on the fence about forgiveness, here are 8 things to ask yourself first. By Lianne Choo
According to an article entitled Masters of Love that was published in The Atlantic, “Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages.” So what about the other 70%?
Although the piece does not go on to say exactly why majority of marriages do not work out, it’s safe to say that infidelity has a role to play in the statistic. As often as spouses tolerate infidelity, there are just as many who would rather pack up and leave. This is especially true if slip ups happen more than once. [Read: Top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]
While breaking up with a cheating partner can culminate in all sorts of ways, from dramatic to subdued to viral video-worthy, those who choose to forgive a cheating partner tend not to get the same amount of media coverage. That’s what we’ll be discussing today.
What should you do before you forgive a cheating partner?
When you’re faced with the choice between forgiving someone who hurt you and leaving someone you love, it’s not surprising to find yourself in a form of moral dilemma. But when you’re more inclined towards patching things up and working to make your partnership work, here are things you need to consider.
#1 Take time off. The first thing you need to do is to breathe and center yourself. You will not be able to get any of that done if every glance at your spouse makes you want to fly into an unholy rage. Pack an overnight bag and stay with someone you can trust. Be it with a friend or family member, make your way to a calm and safe haven. Check into a hotel if you have to, just do not stay put and fight it out.
If you cannot control yourself, then go right ahead and fly off the handle, but ensure that you leave right after. You need to reflect on everything that has happened and to decide on what you want to do next. Yelling and fighting is not going to change anything, and as much as you may be itching to hash it all out there and then, save it for some other time. [Read: Reasons it’s okay to take a relationship break]
#2 Reflect on your relationship. Once you are away from your spouse, spend as much time as you need to reflect on your relationship. Clear your mind and focus on what happened. You also need to think about how you feel about your spouse. Will you be able to forgive? Do you want to forget? Are you both willing to undergo couple’s therapy? Weigh the pros and cons of staying and going.
Once you’ve more or less planned what’s going to happen next, you will find that you’ll feel a little more secure about the future. Being cheated on can feel like the floor has shattered beneath you. Reflecting on your relationship allows you to gain a foothold and get back up. [Read: 3 big steps to building trust in a relationship]
#3 Never place blame. Of course, it’s easy to blame the cheater, but at the end of the day, was your relationship so rocky to the point that it was inevitable that someone was bound to stray and your partner just happened to do it first? Questions that entail wondering whether you contributed to this scenario and whether you could have done something to prevent it will crop up.
Whatever happens, never ever blame yourself. Even if your relationship was a tumultuous one, it is no excuse for cheating. It was your partner’s fault for not coming to you first and trying to work it out. Your spouse was the one who could not resist temptation and chose to do it. You did not push them into the arms of another.
#4 Talk it out. Once you have had time to calm down, sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation. If you can help it, do it on neutral ground. A public yet quiet place like a park or a coffee shop would be ideal. This will prevent both of you from making a scene. Discussing what happened is the best way to move on. Before the meeting, gather all the information you have, and keep in mind all the questions you want to ask.
You also have to remember to read between the lines. You should know your spouse better than anyone else, so you’ll be able to tell when he or she is lying. If you sense something is off, press harder and you will get the information you need in no time.
You also have to discuss their reasons for cheating. This allows you to pinpoint where your relationship took a turn for the worse, and it can lead you towards finding a solution for your problems.
#5 Don’t get obsessed. It is natural to want to know everything such as where this person is from, what they look like to what your partner liked about this person, and so on, but remember that the less you know, the better it is for you. Keep this person on the outside and try not to personalize or connect with them. Also, never ever compare yourself with this person. There is no reason why you should feel bad about the way you look, dress and feel. The last thing you want to do is to cheapen yourself inside and out.
#6 Think of those who are affected. Obviously if you have kids, they should be the ones you think about first. Worrying about how it is going to affect them should you break up with your spouse is normal. Worrying about how it is going to affect them should you stay with your spouse and be unhappy is also normal. When deciding whether to stay or go, your children are the main priority.
Just because mummy and daddy are together does not mean that the kids will be happier. You have no idea how many people stay in angry and loveless marriages and use their kids as an excuse to stay together. Why let your kids endure a loveless, tension-filled household when they can have two loving homes?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how both of you are going to get over this hurdle and what sort of setup you will have for your kids. As hard as this is, staying or leaving should only be determined once you figure the pros and cons out together.
#7 Ask yourself if you can live with it. Something else to really think about is whether you have the capacity to forgive your partner for cheating. If you decide that you can live with it, then you have to realize that rebuilding the trust is not going to happen overnight. Some people still struggle with it years later. If you know that forgiving and forgetting is not in the cards, then leave now and do not prolong it.
As easy as it is for people to say that forgiveness is a choice, it is a really difficult choice that you have to make. Deciding to trust and love the person who so rudely disrespected your love and trust is not an easy feat. You also have to decide if you can handle it if it happens again. Do not be surprised if it does. Although some partners who strayed never do it again, many do and you may just be one of the unlucky ones who has to live with it. [Read: How to rebuild broken trust in a relationship]
#8 Prepare for change. The final thing that you have to do when deciding whether to stay or go is to prepare for change. No matter what you decide, things will be different. Whether you are going to move out and have to adjust to the change of living somewhere new, or if you stay and have to prepare for a strenuous time rebuilding the trust, expect change to happen. The silver lining is that you know it is going to happen so you can prepare yourself for it.
If you do decide that you want to keep on working on your relationship despite infidelity, take the time to consider how that one act of unfaithfulness can affect everything else in your life. Consider the situation carefully before you take a stand and decide to stay together.
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Born in Singapore and raised in Malaysia to multi-racial parents, Lianne is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the wor...