Saturday, December 27, 2008

Could You Forgive Your Spouse for Cheating?

Could you forgive your spouse for cheating on you? Many people would say no way, it’s not worth it, there’s too much pain and too much trust lost.

Monday’s post about the signs of a cheating husband stirred up quite a bit of controversy - but not in the comments section. I received a flood of emails from women who had experienced cheating husbands…and who had cheated themselves. It was a stark reminder that men are not solely at fault for ruining relationships.

Some of you didn’t like that I suggested snooping in your husband’s personal affairs. You thought that it was an invasion of privacy and a sign of mistrust.

“I completely disagree with you that wives should snoop on their husband’s computer and cell phone usage if they’re suspicious. I find such behavior absolutely despicable, a major invasion of privacy. I think any snooping automatically negates any supposed “misdeeds” FYI, I’m a married woman (have been for a little over 12 years), and I would never, ever do this to my husband, no matter how suspicious or apprehensive I was.” - Sarah

Personally, I think that a good husband shouldn’t have anything to hide from his wife. My wife knows the passwords to my computer and email accounts, and she knows how to check my call history, but I understand the sentiment.

I asked one reader to share her story about the affair that severely damaged their marriage. Her husband cheated on her but she forgave him - or, is at least working on forgiving him. Here are her responses:

1) How did it come out?

“My husband confessed his affair on his own. He had an affair with an old girlfriend who lives out of state. It had been through phone calls and texting and emails. Then he flew out for a visit (on business) and spent the last night of his trip with her. He came home, and told me the next day. Based on what he said to me, the way he described his feelings (and lack there of), I knew there was a bigger problem. I told him to look up signs and symptoms of depression and Bipolar disorder and consider calling a doctor.”

2) How & why did you decide to stay?

“He called a doctor the next morning, had an appt at 3, and was put in outpatient therapy for the rest of the week. He was urged by his doctors to ‘not make any major decisions’ until after being on medication a while and having some therapy. During that time, I did my best to stay calm and unintrusive.. all while completely falling apart inside and out. He ‘wanted space’, so I gave it to him. After some time on meds, and finding out he is Bipolar, things started to improve for him. He stopped talking to the other woman about 5 weeks after his visit and decided to work on repairing our marriage. I waited patiently for his decision, for more information, for answers.. I knew that if he did not do it on his own terms, I could not trust that it was authentic.”

3) How did you get past it & what is your relationship like now?

“Infidelity literally kills a marriage. In order for a couple to stay married and recover from it, both partners have to recognize that everything they had before is gone and dead. They have to start over and rebuild from the ground up rather than trying to ‘get things back to how they used to be’. It has been less than a year since my husband’s affair, and I’m still a complete mess (but I do have other issues too that contribute to that). Getting past an affair takes hard work and dedication - it sounds rather trite and cliche, but it is the truth. If either spouse is not 100% commited and ‘in it’ then they will soon give up in frustration. I still have days where I want to just get up and walk out, but I know that that is not what God wants for me and my family. So, when things get hard, I lean on Him.

A lot about our relationship is still the same.. but a lot is different. He is now more open with me, I’m more reserved with him. He is more trusting and expressive, I’m more closed and hesitant. Hopefully, someday, we will both be more open and trusting with each other.. but I know it will take time.”

So I ask you, reader. Could you forgive your spouse for cheating on you? What if, unlike the above example, your husband cheated without the influence of mental illness? What if he simply messed up? Would you be able to forgive him then?

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