“Again and again he cheated on her. Every time she forgives thinking he would do it not again.” Jaspal Virdi
When there’s been infidelity inside of a marriage, a lot of people might assume that most marriages that experience this end.
That’s actually not true.
The majority that experience infidelity inside of a marriage, whether it’s known or unknown, actually remain together.
While not a scientific study, here’s what I see in my coaching practice:
- The women who are cheated ON are open to finding a path through the infidelity in order to remain together.
- Men who cheat typically do not want to end their marriage; they actually use affairs to avoid addressing the difficulties in the marriage or making the decision to end it.
- But when women cheat, they are more likely to leave. They now know what they’re missing inside their marriage and no longer want to live without that.
An Important Distinction
If women have been cheated on repeatedly over the course of years or decades, they’re not as forgiving and are more likely to end the marriage. At some point, the infidelity becomes a permanent part of their marriage, rather than a one-time mistake to be forgiven.
My client has been married to her husband for more than 30 years. They built a life together, raised a family together, and have seen one another through more than a few life challenges.
But she’s finally gotten to the point where she’s no longer willing to overlook his infidelities while suffering in the process.
Every time his phone rang late at night or on a weekend and he claimed it was work….
Or she saw her husband’s phone traced to a hotel or a certain person’s apartment…
Or she saw another text message where he expressed feelings for someone else…
For a long, long time, she would get mad and confront him.
He would run away until the storm had passed.
For a long, long time she cried herself to sleep every night and bitched to every friend who would listen.
But, because it had gone on for so long, it’s no longer an incident that needs to be healed between them…
It’s a way of being inside their marriage.
She just had to get to the point where she made a decision that either:
- This is working for me in some way and I’m willing to stay…
- Or it’s not working for me and I’m no longer willing to keep doing this…
Either of those answers allows her to make a choice and honor herself in the process.
The answer that never has a path to peace (and the one that, sadly, many people choose) is:
“This doesn’t honor me…
It’s not what I want….
It’s not how I treat him…
I deserve better…
And maybe someday he’ll change.”
A mistake is a mistake. An isolated incident that can be forgiven.
A way of being is how we each consistently react to life and who we are.
Once you know the difference, you can make a decision that honors you.
In short, if there’s been infidelity in your marriage, I know there can be a lot of shame there. But the only path through is to really understand what answer honors you. Where you are today. And it’s not always the answer you would predict.