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21 Women Confess Why They Stayed Married After He Cheated

Love & Sex Wendy Robinson May 11, 2018

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My friend L. has been married for over a decade. Her husband is a sweet guy and they seemed happy. So I was stunned when I heard that they'd separated after she found out he'd cheated. I was even more stunned when she took him back two months later. How could she ever learn to trust or love him again after this kind of betrayal? L. explained that even though she had always sworn she'd never stay with a man who cheated on her, living that reality was more complicated than she expected.

For L., splitting up wasn't simple. They had kids together, a mortgage, and many years of shared history. She still loved him -- even though she kind of wanted to kill him. They did the whole counseling thing together, and he slept on the couch for months. That was two years ago and I have to admit they seem solid and happy now. 

Deciding whether to kick a cheater to the curb or to take him back is an intensely personal choice. In some ways, it can be easier to understand the stories that end in divorce, which is why we decided to talk to some women who made the choice to stay. We know it happens, and we wanted to understand why,

We promised to protect these women's privacy, and they promised to tell the real story of why they stayed married after discovering their husbands' infidelity. The reasons might be surprising, but all of them are brutally honest.

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1Mental Illness

"My husband has bipolar disorder. He cheated when he was in a manic phase. Of course it hurts, but I feel like it isn't totally his fault. He has a disease. He feels terribly guilty about it. I'm committed to making it work." -- L.N. 

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2Too Broke to Go

"I took him back after he cheated because I can't afford to divorce him. He makes four times what I do. It isn't fair but it is what it is until I can figure out how to make it on my own." -- S.F. 

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3He's Sober Now

"He cheated on me after getting drunk at a bar with his idiot friends. The cheating was sort of the tip of the iceberg when it came to his drinking. It is a long story, but basically I took him back because he got sober -- and ditched the friends." -- L.D.

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4Stronger Than This

"We've been together for 15 years, married for 10. We have two kids and a good life. Our life together is stronger than one mistake he made and has owned up to." -- D.W.

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5Still Deciding

"When I found out my husband was cheating, I kicked his ass out. We've been doing counseling and I've let him move back in. But truthfully I'm still deciding if I am going to let him stay. I love him but I'm so angry still." -- P.L. 

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6Not Alone

"I took him back because I was seven months pregnant when I found out he was cheating. I just couldn't imagine raising the baby on my own or being alone when I went into labor." -- M.D.

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7Best Friend

"I took him back because he's my best friend. He did something so stupid -- got a 'happy ending' at a sketchy massage place -- but I'd still rather be with him than anyone else." -- S.M.

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8Bad Husband, Great Dad

"I took him back because he's a sh*tty husband sometimes but he's a really great dad. I'm raising three boys, and I think they need him as a daily fixture in their lives." -- E.R.

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9Did the Work

"I took him back because we did the work. We did the counseling, we talked sh*t out, he quit his job -- because his affair was with a coworker -- and we just decided to fight for our marriage." -- C.M.

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10Faith Says No

"My husband and I are observant Jews. In our community there is a strong belief in not getting divorced. I hate that he cheated but my faith tells me to stay married and to say 'no' to divorce." -- J.W. 

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11I Do

"I mean, it's complicated, but basically I believe in my marriage vows. I'm in this until death do us part. But if he cheats again, I might kill him. Kidding? Maybe." -- J.G. 

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12Better Together

"I took him back because the affair was very short and because he basically worked like a dog to gain my trust again. Sometimes I still think about it and feel sad all over again, but I think we are still better together." -- I.K.

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13

Family First 

"We have five kids. I honestly can't imagine being a single mom. I also want my kids to grow up with their father. He's a good dad and our family comes first, even before our marriage, I guess, if that makes sense." -- N.B. 

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14

Forever Changed

"Finding out he had an affair was like a bomb that exploded our whole lives. We spent a year putting the pieces back together. One of the things that changed was that I started thinking more about what I really wanted and needed. I'd been so out of the habit of taking care of myself. Now I'm swimming again, which I love, and taking more time for myself. I'm forever changed by his actions, but maybe for the better?" -- J.B. 

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15

An Understanding

"My husband was a professional athlete and we're lucky to have a really nice life. But when you have a husband like mine, you kind of have to have an understanding, you know? The trade-off for the money and the lifestyle is that he is a magnet for potential side-chicks. I don't ask any more. I don't want to know because I want to keep my husband and my life." -- S.T. 

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16

Together for Him

"We have a child with profound disabilities. That is SO HARD on a marriage. My husband made a mistake during a hard time. It isn't okay but I kind of understand. But we need to stay together for our son. He needs both of us." -- M.E. 

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17

Trapped

"I'm still married but I feel trapped. We moved far away from our families for grad school and we have a new baby. I'm too overwhelmed to think about what it would take to get divorced right now. But maybe that will change. Or maybe we'll get through this. I don't really know." -- F.S.

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Fresh Start

"For me to stay after I found out about his cheating, I needed a totally fresh start. New city, new house, absolutely no contact with anyone who knew the [woman] he was messing with, nothing. I hit the reset button on everything, basically." -- R.G. 

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Good Man

"It's still really hard to reconcile the fact that my husband is a great dad and a good man and someone who has cheated on me twice in our 15-year marriage. I blame myself, sometimes, for not being a very sexual person. I blame him too, of course. But I just haven't lost hope that our family can stay intact." -- I.L. 

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Cultural Difference

"I met my husband when I was doing a study abroad trip in Italy. He's cute, charming, and Italian. He's a flirt and I think on some level he just thinks men are entitled to a little freedom to mess around on the side. I think it's a cultural thing. I stay because I love him the most. His charms work on me too." -- E.B. 

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