When you discover that your partner cheats on you with someone else, you go into a state of indescribable shock. And, in the midst of such an emotional outburst, divorce is one of the options you think about. I share with you the following true story:
After 9 years of marriage, Carol discovered her husband Johan’s virtual infidelity. He was exchanging erotic messages and images with other women.
They lived 2 years between infidelity (2 times), forgiveness and attending family counseling. Until, finally, she asked him for a divorce. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out what happened with this relationship and the decision to divorce.
If your partner cheats on you once, would you forgive him/her?
“When your partner cheats on you, you feel completely betrayed and mocked.” “Trust fades and insecurity takes over you and the relationship.” “A lot of feelings come over you.”.
These are expressions of people who were cheated on by their partner. Some of them could not stand the anguish and doubt and decided to separate for good.
However, other spouses were able to forgive and save their relationship (between 60-75%). In my journey as a therapist and spiritual counselor, I have witnessed many marital restorations.
Now, with Johan and Carol, we see that there was more than one infidelity. Besides, that each had their chance for forgiveness with no apparent success, so why not consider divorce?
Which are the alternatives to divorce?
The pain of discovering that your partner is cheating on you can lead you to make rash decisions. However, stopping to reflect on what is best for both of you allows you to discover other alternatives.
Seeking professional counseling is one of them. Carol relates:
“Nothing can justify infidelity. But, in every couple counseling, Johan and I became aware of the weaknesses in our relationship. I couldn’t decide to end it without first giving us a chance to fix what was going on. For a moment, infidelity was no longer the focus of discussion.”
What’s behind the infidelity
According to the experience of this couple, behind the infidelity you are faced with several alternatives. These can be:
- Standing in the victim position or opening up to the opportunity to acknowledge what you are both doing wrong.
- Remaining in wounded pride or having the humility and willingness to make the necessary changes.
- Succumbing to the pain or fighting back and exhausting all available resources.
- Rediscover love.
- Listen to your inner voice. If you still love that person, your heart will guide you toward forgiveness and finding the opportunity to be closer. Love is never tired of waiting (1 Corinthians 13).
- Keep your eyes on what God has arranged for you and your happiness. To make the path of forgiveness, God must be the source of love and direction.
Carol also commented that, despite the willingness of both of them to change, it was very difficult to live through it. Especially when Johan was unfaithful again in the same way. And it was at that moment when she decided to ask her husband for a divorce, and he had to leave the house.
Is divorce ever an option?
At this point we have made it clear that, if your partner cheats on you with someone else, divorce is not the only option. Seeking professional help and embarking on a path of forgiveness and reconciliation are alternatives. However, divorce may be an option when previous actions do not end well.
Undoubtedly, when instead of finding strength and restoration the pain and damage continues, the healthiest thing to do is to separate. Especially when there are children involved who suffer the consequences.
Nor should we forget that each couple is unique in their experience. So, we see that Carol and Johan would not be part of the above statistic. What confused Carol the most was that Johan said he loved her and, actually, they had both made very favorable changes. So, what had happened?
What determines the possibility of divorce?
The level of marital commitment determines the possibility of divorce. When your partner cheats on you, he/she breaks a commitment of loyalty and exclusive union with you.
That is why, after the infidelity, it is essential to rethink what is the commitment between you and your partner and to express whether you are willing to fulfill it. To do this, you should review:
- What have been their expectations of the relationship?
- What satisfies them and what does not?
- How do you think about loyalty and fidelity?
- What makes them feel respected, secure, and trusting of each other?
- What does God say about marriage?
If either spouse is unwilling to fulfill his or her commitment of loyalty, there is no point in staying together.
Understanding the marriage covenant is fundamental
In a subsequent counseling encounter, after the physical separation, Johan admitted that initially his action was because he felt insecure about his masculine capacity. But he also added:
“Deep down, I believe that these messages with other women are a passing thing and that I will never get to the sexual act with anyone. I only love and desire her.”
Here we see the root of his infidelity:
- He believed that infidelity was limited to sexual encounters with other people.
- He had not understood that his union with Carol established both physical and emotional exclusivity.
Since then, both renewed their covenant of marital fidelity, understanding that being one flesh is not limited to sexual intimacy (Proverbs 31:11, Ephesians 5:28,33).
There are new opportunities
If you have discovered that your partner cheats on you, you may feel anger, frustration and betrayal. And, this combination of feelings is not the best guide for making decisions.
Johan and Carol were able to save their marriage by choosing first:
- Trust in God.
- Speak honestly.
- Listen and understand.
- Renew your covenant of marital fidelity.
- Make the necessary changes.
Infidelity should not be the means to strengthen the relationship, but if it happens it can be an opportunity to grow.
I can accompany you in your experience. Contact me at 407 618 0212.