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After an affair, did you forgive? Or leave?

By February 20, 2009 - 9:22am
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I have a longtime friend dealing with something really tough -- the aftermath of an affair. She is struggling with whether the trust between a couple can truly ever be repaired after something like this. Have you dealt with this? How did you get through it?

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Wow--there are some truly amazing stories. I can not speak from experience, but the only thing missing is: what was the marriage like before the affair? In other words, is it worth saving? Was the affair the last straw, or an awful decision one night? Was it a one-night affair, or an ongoing love affair? How long have they been married (do they have a long history of love and trust that they can fall back on? Did they once have a strong foundation?). Don't get me wrong: cheating is cheating, but human behavior is not black-and-white, and once the shock is diminished, I believe those are some other questions the couple must ask themselves, both individually and as a partnership.

I do believe it is important to know if the couple has children, but that in no way can be the deciding factor. If the one who was betrayed is not able to forgive (and I'm not sure I could), then an unhappy household without trust and love is not an ideal environment to raise children (if they have a choice between two happy households or one unhappy household, then the choice may be simpler).

February 22, 2009 - 8:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

I can speak on this from experience. I was previously married and my husband cheated. I chose to accept the affair and move on with our lives. He was the one that couldn't accept that he hurt me and had to end the marriage. His father was a cheater with his Mother for years and he never wanted to be a cheater like his father. Well, low and behold, one intoxicating night, he made a life changing mistake. I tried to forgive him, but he couldn't forgive himself. He committed suicide a few years later and told me how much he loved me in his last letter. How much he couldn't forgive himself.

My life moves on and I have another long term relationship that ends on very bad terms (not infidelity). The sparks rekindle after approximately a year and I think everything is fantastic, things are moving in the right direction. After one month, I find out he has been lying to me and has been seeing someone besides me. What a heart breaking story, right?

I choose to not forgive this one. Monogamy is not the norm for the animal kingdom, but as humans we are sophisticated and made it that way for many purposes of family, insurance and so forth. After endearing both my misfortunes, I think there is room for forgiveness in one sense and there is no room in another sense.

I know in my opinion, I will no longer deal with unfaithful partners. There are so many nice men out there, why should we be hurt by the people that we trust the most, our partner for life.

February 22, 2009 - 2:07pm
EmpowHER Guest

Wow-this is a great discussion. I'm afraid there is no clear cut or easy answer on this one. I think this is such a gut, individual call. My parents have been married for 50 years, and I know my dad was unfaithful once with my mother during their marriage but they kept it together and they had 2 children. I wish there was an easy answer for your friend but my advice would be to consider if she has children, if she has children then it has to be an important factor into her decision of what to do.



February 21, 2009 - 5:17pm

I can't speak on this from the experience of being married to someone who cheated on me. However, I have experienced this through my parents when my dad had an affair. At the time, he and my mom had been married for over 40 years. They did divorce, and from my perspective, I feel like I can never trust my dad again because of what he did to my mom. I can't imagine having to deal with this with a spouse -- I feel certain it would end our relationship.

February 20, 2009 - 12:29pm
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