So Your Spouse Is Having an Affair
It's funny how life will throw things at you. In our case it has been pretty much everything in the book: Cancer, Mental Illness, Alcoholism, Porn, and Affair... I am sure I am missing something but for purposes I think it is enough! This article will be dedicated to the affair and options you have once you know about it.
There are a number of emotions you will feel but really only two options open to you at that time, it is completely up to you which option you chose; however, the thought process behind both must be thought out logically preferably with the help of a certified counselor in order to have the best possible outcome for your family. I will tell you my choices and why I made them.
Option 1: You can divorce or leave the no good cheating scum bag.
Option 2: You can try to save your marriage.
Option 3: You can try and save your marriage and fail.
Option 1: Leave the No Good Cheating Scumbag
For anyone who has not been through it or does not have children this is the first (often visceral) response you will receive. It makes sense doesn't it? They broke the marriage vows, they broke your trust, they obviously don't care about your thoughts or feelings, and clearly they want out of the relationship. This is the emotional side of you speaking and believe me when I say I get it.
In our case we have a 10 year old daughter and essentially no assets to speak of. He has made it clear he would give me absolutely everything and wants nothing but to be able to have time with our daughter. The divorce would be quick and we could both get on with our lives... But not really.
If we did that, our daughter would be left with shared time between mom and dad. She would have trust issues for the rest of her life because Dad didn't honor his commitment to mom and Mom didn't fight for it with him. She would have to decide who to spend holidays with, where she wanted to spend the night and take time away from her friends to spend time with the people who should be there for her no matter what.
I would never date or marry again. Yes, I know, never say never, but how could I ever trust another person again much less a man? This is the man I have spent 17 years with, and he is wanting out because I got sick and changed.
He may date again at which time our daughter would need more counseling because she has already verbalized that she feels like he is trying to replace me which is not what a dad or husband should do.
Financially we would both be ruined for the rest of our lives. With little to no assets we would both be starting over again at the age of 40.
Option 2: Figure It Out, Make It Work
This option seems harder at first. The emotions are telling you everything is over and it is dead. The world is telling us that it is better for the kids to have two parents separate than to see them fight. The bible says we are clear to leave our spouse if they cheat. The law says we can divorce and there can be a contract to determine how we will divide assets and time with the kids. It seems easy right? But what if there is a part of you that simply can't accept this as the best option? It is time to dig in your heels and fight for your family.
The first thing to accept is that you had a hand in this as well. Yes, you heard me right. They may have cheated and you may not see at first how you could have possibly contributed, but let me assure you you did. In my case I gave my husband too much time and space leaving him feeling alone and abandoned. In fairness, I thought I was helping. I honestly thought he needed the time for school, not to schedule hook ups with women online, NSA (I found out later that means no strings attached).
Realizing your part in the problem will allow you to start to rectify it.
A major factor here is that your spouse must also be willing to at least try to figure things out. They need to get counseling on their own, as well as be able to have serious conversations about what happened. These conversations will be painful and hard for both of you, which is why I highly recommend having a counselor of your own.
Notice I say counselors, NOT friends. A recommendation I would make is that you NEVER discuss what is going on with family or friends until you are sure what you are going to do. If you do and are able to work things out, your friends will forever be mad at your partner. If you don't work them out you can then discuss freely and let them know that you were working on things which is why you did not talk to them first.
Understand that your marriage did not break in a day and it will not heal in a day. Often the one who cheated is not going to want to participate but if they are willing to, it is up to you to hold back your emotions and let them figure it out. If you don't you will be back to option 1 faster than you can blink. The fact that they are willing to do any portion of this should be considered a positive. Be prepared for months, not days, months of them saying they simply don't see a positive outcome or that they emotionally don't care about the hurt they caused. Remember, if they did, they would not have done it in the first place, but if they are getting help there is still hope.
Option 3: When Making It Work Doesn't Work
We were told going into this that it would take at least a year for us to know where we would end up. Being who we are we thought we could go faster, but there are some things in life that simply take the time they take. Be prepared to put in the time. Give it your full effort, even when you don't want to. Go to the counseling, go on dates, try to find a spark again, but know that it may not work. You cannot change your spouse.
Be ready to split but make sure you are not doing it based on emotion at that point. It is a split that you cannot avoid. Make sure you have fully thought about the ramifications not only for you but the whole family. Here is a reality: Children are NEVER okay when their parents split. It is NEVER a good option. It will ALWAYS have horrible and detrimental affects on the child.
Still, if you cannot do it, then it is your responsibility to do it as adults not children lashing out. Find a way to make sure you never bash the other in front of the children, don't fight in front of them, suck it up and figure out what is best for them. Plan ahead and have as many bills paid in advance as possible. Don't be caught off guard.
If possible prep the children for what is going to happen. Let them know that you still love your spouse and you love them.
Abuse Changes Everything
Let me make a quick point here that at no time is abuse accepted or tolerable. Physical or emotional abuse must be addressed immediately with hard line consequences for both.
Physical abuse is immediate grounds for getting out of the situation. At that point it is a matter of safety nothing else. If you fear physical abuse make sure to plan accordingly and have an exit strategy in place.
Emotional abuse is not okay either, but it is something that will probably happen through the course or at least it will definitely feel like it. When these things happen, calmly explain that while you are willing to work it out, you will not be talked to this way and clearly let your spouse know what they said, how you felt and why it is unacceptable. It is more than okay to create hard line rules about how you will and will not speak to each other through this process.