Few things can shake a marriage quite as thoroughly as an affair. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 88% of spouses stated that infidelity was the main factor that led to their decision to divorce. But does infidelity always have to lead to divorce? How do you know if divorce is the best option for your situation, or if you should attempt to salvage your marriage after an affair? While there is no set answer to these difficult questions, we hope that this article may offer you some guidance in deciding whether or not divorce is the best option for you.
The Quality of Your Marriage
At this time, it’s important to try to assess the quality of your marriage prior to your discovery of the affair. If you have a long-term committed relationship and you’re still deeply in love with your spouse, then the foundation of your marriage may be strong enough to withstand the damage brought on by the affair. You may very well be able to repair your relationship and stay in your marriage.
Remember, the opposite of love is not actually hate, but indifference. If your partner’s affair leaves you feeling angry, wounded, and betrayed, odds are that you’re having a deeply emotional response because you still have deep feelings for your partner. If, on the other hand, their affair elicits little emotional response for you, then you may have already begun falling out of love with your partner, and the relationship will be much more difficult to save.
Your Partner’s History
It’s also important that you examine your partner’s relationship history to determine if there is a pattern of infidelity present. If they have a habit of breaking your trust in this way, then it’s likely that they are a habitual cheater and, despite their insistence that they can change, the cheating is likely to occur again.
However, if your partner was always a loyal spouse and this affair is the first of its kind, there could be underlying circumstances that led to the affair; if you can identify these underlying issues, you may find that they are reparable so that you can rebuild your marriage.
Your Partner’s Reaction
As mentioned above, there can be underlying issues in a marriage that lead to one partner having an affair. However, your partner should not attempt to use those circumstances to excuse their own behavior. If your partner becomes defensive or attempts to blame you for their infidelity (e.g., “You’re never around anymore,” “We haven’t been physically intimate in months,” etc.), this is a signal that they may not be truly remorseful for their actions. In these cases, when there’s a lack of remorse, it’s much more likely that infidelity will occur again
If, however, your partner is remorseful, willing to cut off contact with the person they had an affair with, and is willing to take other proactive steps to repairing your relationship, then you may be able to consider repairing your marriage. With counseling, commitment, and a willingness to work on your marriage together, divorce won’t necessarily have to be in your future.
Your Ability to Trust Again
Finally, ask yourself if you will be able to trust your partner again. While it may be difficult to imagine yourself forgiving your spouse of their affair and fully trusting them again, this is essential if you hope to remain married to your partner. If you continue to harbor feelings of resentment or will be constantly feeling like you have to check in on their whereabouts every moment of every day, then odds are that your marriage will not last long beyond the affair. Feelings and actions such as these always lead to a deterioration in the relationship, and it’s likely to end in divorce.
Of course, nobody expects you to completely forget that the affair ever happened. There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting. But if you believe that you can acknowledge your partner’s mistakes and return to loving and trusting them, then it may be possible to seek counseling for your marriage instead of immediately pursuing a divorce.
While infidelity is a major cause of divorce, the two don’t always have to go hand in hand. If your spouse has had an affair, carefully consider whether or not divorce is what you really want. If you do decide it is the best option for you to move on with your life, contact Harr Law today. We’ll be your advocate throughout the divorce proceedings to ensure your rights are protect and that you can begin a new, happy life as a single person.