Being hit by infidelity is a fitting expression.
The eruption of emotions an act of unfaithfulness brings about can certainly feel like you’ve just been hit by one of Oakland’s BART trains. The emotional and physical pain, the anguish and grief, the raw anger and resentment, all leave their scars.
You invested so much in this marriage – complete faith and trust. But now, your spouse’s selfish actions have shattered all that. A profound sense of devastation and betrayal is the only thing you can feel. It overwhelms you – drowns you.
Feeling humiliated and inadequate, you even question your worth. You begin to dissect yourself to find the fault. Are you’re deficient in some way?
Lamentably, marital unfaithfulness seems to be universal and almost as common as marriage. What can you do to deal with the situation? Can you save your marriage? Or should you divorce?
First off, stop! (*red light flashes*) Don’t make a hasty decision just to relieve your immediate pain.
Second, take a good look at your options.
Can You Save Your Marriage?
Infidelity is painful and damaging, but so is divorce. It may actually be less traumatic to save your marriage than sever it. It’s never too late to try, at least.
However, you should be aware that it takes a lot of painful self-scrutiny and frank communication to rebuild trust. So, don’t fool yourself into thinking that simply forgiving your spouse will solve it all.
How, then, can you gauge if there is a solid basis for believing that you can save your marriage? Answering the following questions may help:
Do I still love my spouse? Do I want to stay in the marriage? Does my spouse want to stay? Did my spouse put an end to the illicit relationship?
Has my spouse resolved not to repeat this wrong? Has their attitude changed? Or do they still have the tendency to engage in the actions that led up to the infidelity?
Does my spouse truly regret the hurt they’ve caused? Or are they just upset that their affair was exposed?
Has my spouse said that they’re sorry? Are they showing sincere remorse? Or do they tend to blame me for their actions?
Is my spouse fully committed to rebuilding our marriage? What are they doing about it?
So, what happens if the answers to these questions are negative?
Should You Get a Divorce?
The fact is, divorce doesn’t always end the anxieties the breakdown of your marriage causes. Unfortunately, you often just end up exchanging one set of problems for another. For that very reason, you will have to approach the question of divorce realistically.
Aside from how a divorce may affect you personally, consider some of the other challenges that may arise after ending your marriage:
Financial blows – A reduced income, the possibility of having to move, and supporting your children can make life very difficult.
Parenting issues – Having to be both mom and dad can be highly stressful. Plus, your ex-spouse might not be very reasonable when it comes to visitation rights, financial support, or agreeing on discipline.
Devastating emotional effects on your children – They may feel confused and worry that they will be abandoned. This can result in behavioral problems or even depression.
After a thorough examination of all facts, and a clear assessment of the damage done to your marriage, you have a choice to make. Whether you will choose to save your marriage or get a divorce is your personal decision.
Heading into therapy to have help assessing whether your goals are in alignment with your spouses helps. Being able to have support and encouragement to heal not only your own wounds but the wounded partnership is relieving. Therapy helps to determine over time wether your marriage can weather the trust building process and make it through to the other side.