So He Had an Affair. Now What?

Broken HeartFinding out that your spouse has cheated on you has to be one of the most devastating gut punches a person can experience. It doesn't matter if things were rocky already, or if the unsuspecting party had no clue there was trouble in paradise -- it's a betrayal in its most intimate form.

So you got emotionally knocked flat on your back by a confession wrought after you uncovered some suspicious texts or receipts, or maybe even a sheepish unsolicited absolution of guilt. Well now what? What is the right thing to do when infidelity enters a marriage? Will you be a shmuck if you stay? Are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater if you go?

The only right answer is what's right for you. Let's say Mr. Cheater is perturbed at being caught, but doesn't seem very repentant or remorseful about it. Chances are this wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. Either decide to put up with it or leave.

More from The Stir: Strong Marriages Can & Should Survive Sexual Betrayal

But what if your spouse has had a come-to-Jesus moment, and the affair was just what he needed to open his eyes to how wonderful you are, and he wants to spend the rest of his life building up his relationship with you? Then what do you do?

You can choose to stay and work it out, and there's a good chance your marriage will not only survive, but be better than ever. But there's one thing you're going to have to do, and it's probably going to be one of the hardest thing you'll ever do. You're going to have to truly forgive him, and rebuild that trust.

Without trust, a relationship can't have true intimacy, and without intimacy, it's going to fall flat on its face. Not that anyone should just forgive and forget and move on like nothing happened. There's going to be a lot of hard work for both of you. The cheater is going to have to really want to prove to you how faithful and caring he can be to you, but you're going to have to be willing to see it too.

He made a mistake. A very big, heinous mistake, but a mistake none the less. People do that. They need forgiveness to feel loved, and for a marriage to flourish, both partners must feel loved.

If the betrayal and hurt cut so deeply that you can't see yourself ever forgiving the other person, it's OK to walk away, your head held high. You were dealt a pretty huge blow, and there's no right or wrong way to deal with it.

Could you forgive a cheater?


Image via Nicolas Raymond/Flickr

commitment, divorce, lying, marriage


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nonmember avatar Sabine

Personally, I would just get a divorce. I don't have any kids so it's not even a question for me, I could do better and would.

I think even if I had kids it would probably still end in divorce because the relationship would turn into a disaster as I'd be out there screwing every 24-year-old with a flat stomach I could find. And I wouldn't even bother to hide it from him, I'd gloat about it. It would be out of pure spite. I wouldn't let him touch me again, but I would let hot dozens of hot young things have their way with me! I'm sure hubby would flip and that's not the kind of healthy environment kids need either so divorce would be the way to go.

SaphireH SaphireH

I messed up this way, not planned out just one of those i was hanging with my best friend who is a guy and neither of us stopped it nor thought about the consequences. We initially didn't say what we did to anyone because to me at the time it was a whatever because my marriage was pretty much out the door at that point due to a list of issues but didn't want a nasty divorce over my screw up, so we just agreed it was a 1 time deal and to not say anything. A few months later the truth did come out and my husband did get pissed did want a divorce and i wasn't gonna fight him and was ready to do whatever needed to make it easy on our kids to see both of us but after a week he had some thinking time and calm down time and we sat down talked over everything, that he felt it was more his fault than ours which i still don't agree with, my friend and i both apologized for hiding it and he forgave us both and now we are trying to fix our marriage and so far its going great. But everyone one is different and will have an opinion so it's just up to whatever the couple agree on whether it be stay or split up

nonmember avatar nikki

My husband did have an affair. There are a lot of emotions you go through when you find out but I still loved him and still didn't want anyone else as my husband. We do make mistakes. His was a one night stand when our marriage wasn't the best 3 years ago. It took him 3 years to tell me but his wounds and mine were still just as fresh. Denial anger disgust. He is still trying to get over the guilt and shame which I pray he let's go of. It's been a long road and sometimes it still hits you and hurts but we are stronger now and there is more understanding and respect to each other.

nonmember avatar naoma

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Had one who cheated and got his teen girlfriend pregnant. Divorced him. First divorce in family EVER. I was a "disgrace." But, he needed to support his new wife. I think he has 7 kids now.

Ashley Kidd

once a cheater, always a cheater... divorce his sorry butt!

nonmember avatar Kathy

That is never a mistake. It is always a choice.

nonmember avatar S

When you agree to be in a relationship with someone, you are agreeing to be in a relationship with that person. If you can't keep your hands to yourself don't get married.

I agree with Ashley Kidd, if they cheat once they'll cheat again. I've been cheated on- and there's no excuse for it.

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