If you have ever watched an episode of Cheaters you have seen what can happen when a spouse’s unfaithfulness has been uncovered. At some point in our lives we will come across infidelity, whether it is in our own relationship or someone else’s. When you find out that you have been cheated on the hurt can be so overwhelming that it seems like the breath has been sucked from your body. Your heart drops and all you can think is “why?” The burn of anger builds in your bones as you wait for your senses to tell you what to do next.
For many who are in relationships a cheating spouse is the ultimate deal breaker, but does it always have to be the end? Not necessarily. When it comes to cheating, it is best to deal with it on a case by case basis. Mistakes do happen. No one is perfect. By no means am I making excuses for cheaters, and just to be clear, if you are in a relationship with a serial cheater I would not advise you to stick around trying to make it work. But if you happen to find yourself trying to make a decision about whether to stay in a relationship after you have been cheated on, there are many things to take into consideration. Think about what kind of relationship you had before the infidelity occurred. Was it full of strife and tension? If so, trying to make it work may not be worth the trouble. Have you been together for months or has it been years? Another thing to think about is how remorseful your spouse is. Are they full of excuses or have they realized the magnitude of such a betrayal? Are they genuinely sorry about what happened or are they just sorry they got caught?
If you were the one who cheated, you have to understand that the trust has been lost and it will take time and lots of effort on your part to build that trust again. If you were cheated on and decide to stay in the relationship, you have to be willing to forgive and give the other person opportunities to rebuild the trust. Many people think forgiveness means that you are condoning the cheating behavior or saying it was okay, which is not the case. Forgiving does not mean completely forgetting what happened. It means getting to a place where the infidelity no longer defines your relationship. The best way that I have heard forgiveness described was from Oprah when she said “forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” We can’t change the past. We can’t turn back the hands of time to prevent a spouse from cheating. The only thing we have control over is what we do about the situation going forward.
So can a relationship survive infidelity? Yes, a relationship can survive infidelity if both involved are willing to do the work to make it happen. Only if both of you believe the love you share is worth holding on to and if both of you are committed to the difficult task of putting the broken pieces of your relationship back together can a relationship survive after infidelity.
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