In our Western culture, monogamy is so widely assumed that it’s rarely even discussed before marriage. But that broad assumption that neither you nor your partner will cheat doesn’t take away the risk of it occurring. As a matter of fact, according to The Normal Bar, one of the most extensive studies on romantic relationships ever completed, 14% of women and 26% of men admitted to having an affair.
For obvious reasons, most don’t want their partners to know about their infidelity, so they don’t readily admit to their indiscretions. Some will tell their partners the truth about their cheating and other times, their partners find out on their own. Once the affair becomes known, the partner who has been betrayed has a decision to make: do they stay or do they go?
Apparently, men are far more willing to forgive an affair than women. Sixty-three percent of men would stay in the relationship, compared to only 52% of women. It’s possible that men may be more willing to forgive since they’re also more likely to have an affair themselves. But an attempt to forgive an affair will require a great deal from both partners:
Was there an Emotional Connection?
When women love, we often love with our whole selves. You don’t just get our bodies; you may very likely also get our hearts and minds leading to an emotional attachment. Therefore, it’s important for a man to know whether or not an emotional bond was formed with the affair partner. Clearly, those relationships will be more difficult to put behind both of you.
In order to determine if you can stay in the marriage after your wife cheats, it may be important to understand how deep the emotional connection was between your wife and her partner.
How Firm is the Foundation?
Discovering infidelity, particularly when it takes you completely by surprise, can make you question everything:
- It can make you question the foundational parts of the marriage related to trust, commitment, communication and shared values.
- It makes you question your attraction to your partner and her attraction to you.
- It will certainly make you question the quality of your sex life and connection.
When you came into the relationship, you both claimed to want one partner for your life. Is that still what you both want?
Infidelity can provide the opportunity for some much-needed conversation about the foundational elements of the marriage to make sure you still have a foundation on which to build. Without that, you’re attempting to re-build on unstable ground.
Are You Up to the Task?
Recovering after an affair requires a great deal from both parties. If the wife cheated, she now has to rebuild trust, and the husband has a great deal of forgiveness work to do.
Both will need to address each of their respective roles in what was broken in the marriage to begin with for one of them to seek love and affection, comfort and connection outside of the union.
Bouncing back after an affair will force both spouses to identify where they had placed their relationship on auto-pilot and stopped giving it the attention it needed to remain healthy.
And then, you’ve got to be willing to do things differently (otherwise you will simply find yourselves right back at this same painful place again in the future).
It takes a great deal of effort by both people in the relationship to recover from an affair. To make the decision about whether to stay or go, you have to know for certain that both of you are willing to put in that level of effort to rebuild the marriage and help it evolve into something different than what it was then when it was vulnerable to an affair or what it is currently.
It is possible for a marriage to recover after a partner has cheated. To understand what’s ahead of you as a couple, it’s important to know not just about the physical betrayal, but also the depth of the emotional betrayal. You both have to get clear on whether you still agree about the foundational pieces of the marriage. And you will want to get clear about your combined willingness to put in the effort that will be required to overcome this challenge and create something new together.
A version of this article was posted on SharonPopeTruth.com and is republished with the author’s permission.
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