Infidelity doesn’t always signify the end of a marriage but it does shatter your view of your relationship. It causes you to question whether your marriage will survive the betrayal and whether you can regain trust in your partner again. The answer to the question of whether you should stay together depends on you and your partner’s willingness to resolve the issues and repair your relationship.
While infidelity can be devastating to a marriage, some specialists believe that it is important to try to resolve the crisis and rebuild trust if possible. According to therapists Rona B. Subotnik, L.M.F.T and Gloria Harris, Ph.D., getting to the root of infidelity is crucial. In their book Surviving Infidelity, they write, “Because extramarital sex still plays a role in the dissolution of many marriages, and because the divorce rate continues to be so high, it is important to know more about it.”
While Subotnik and Harris’s goal is to keep most marriages together – even after trust has been broken by the wounds of infidelity – some individuals who have been betrayed consider the threat to their marriage so severe that they can’t fathom continuing in the marriage.
Assessing the Seriousness of the Threat
Knowing the type of affair your spouse is involved in can help you determine the seriousness of it but does not take away the pain associated with it. Nonetheless, assessing the degree of seriousness and the threat that it poses to your marriage, can help you to make a decision about continuing in the relationship.
For instance, flings, which can be a one-night stand or go on for months are the least serious type of affair and romantic love affairs –think “Casablanca” – pose the greatest threat to a marriage.
However, if you have survived infidelity, you may decide that divorce is the only option. Even if you suspected that your partner was cheating, knowing is intensely disturbing. In many cases, the decision to terminate a marriage should not be made in haste. Regardless, divorce is typically a painful process for all involved.
8 Warning Signs that your marriage is headed for divorce after infidelity:
1. You feel criticized and put down by your partner frequently and this leaves you feeling less than “good enough.” According to renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, the author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail… and How You Can Make Yours Last, (Simon & Schuster, 2012), criticism is one of the main reasons why marriages collapse.
2. You have difficulty being vulnerable and trusting your significant other. And when you do your worst fears are actualized – you’re left regretting that you revealed your feelings and desires. Your level of mistrust in your partner is high and preoccupies your thinking on a daily basis.
3. You don’t enjoy each other’s friends or families so begin socializing away from one another. This may start out as an occasional weeknight out. But if not nipped in the bud, it can spill over into weekends – ideally when couples have an opportunity to spend more time together.
4. You have ghosts from past relationships that surface because they were not dealt with. You may overreact to fairly innocent things your partner says or does because it triggers a memory from a past relationship.
5. Your needs for sexual intimacy are vastly different and/or you rarely have sex. Relationship expert Cathy Meyer writes, “Whether it is him or you that have lost interest, a lack of regular intimacy in a marriage is a bad sign. Sex is the glue that binds, it is the way we adults play and enjoy each other.”
6. You and your partner have fallen into a pursuer-distancer pattern one of the main causes of divorce. Over time, it erodes the love and trust between you because you’ll lack the emotional and sexual intimacy that comes from being in harmony with each other.
7. When you disagree you seldom repair your relationship and get back on track. You fall into the trap of blaming each other and fail to compromise or apologize. As a result, you experience less warmth and closeness. According to Dr. John Gottman, the number one solution to this problem is to get really good at repair skills. He tells Business Insider that you’ve got to get back on track after a fight if you don’t want issues to fester.
8. Emotional, verbal, or physical abuse that causes a partner to feel unsafe. For the most part, experts agree that any type of abuse erodes feelings of security, trust, or sense of belonging in a relationship and these issues can’t be resolved in the context of a marriage. Emotional abuse can occur after infidelity if the partner who cheated doesn’t make a commitment to stop and/or continues to be unfaithful and/or has an emotional affair with someone.
If you choose to work on your marriage, be sure to pay close attention to the role you play if you are drifting apart and focus on what you can do to reconnect with your partner rather than resorting to the “blame game.” Forgiving your partner for their betrayal is important to the healing process if they make a genuine apology and make a commitment to end their behavior. In addition, try to remember what attracted you to him or her, to begin with, and focus on their admirable qualities rather than their flaws.
You can follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter and Facebook. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website, www.movingpastdivorce.com.