You may feel as if your life imploded when you learned that your spouse cheated—or may still be carrying on an affair. The news rocked your feelings of stability and safety in the marriage. Your biggest concern may be how to survive infidelity, and one question at the moment may be:
Should I go to counseling with my spouse, or should I drive straight over to the divorce lawyer?
Infidelity: A Devastating Action Creates a Difficult Decision
Your marriage has probably had its ups and downs over the years—just like any marriage. But the furthest thing from your mind was that your spouse would cheat on you—after all you’ve been through as a couple. You never thought you’d be in a position of wondering how to survive infidelity.
The thought that your marriage could be over is devastating. It’s like a second blow to your gut, the first being the infidelity you’ve discovered. Other than dealing with death, a marriage in crisis is one of the toughest emotional times you could ever have—especially if you’re trying to decide if the marriage should end.
A marriage counselor can’t answer the question of whether or not you should seek a divorce—that’s something for you and your spouse to decide. And as the injured spouse, you may feel a divorce is what you should do. Your pride is at much at stake as your marriage.
But a divorce isn’t necessarily the answer. Sure, when your marriage is at its lowest point, it may seem logical to divorce. But without you and your spouse first trying to resolve your issues and build the relationship, you may later regret not trying—as difficult as that may be to imagine right now.
However, getting the marriage “back to where it was” won’t resolve anything. That’s where the current crisis sprang from. Now the challenge is working together, assuming your cheating spouse is willing, to build your relationship to something better than you ever had before as you both learn how to survive infidelity.
Whether you decide to try couples counseling or seek a divorce, your decision will change your life. And working with an objective party, such as a marriage counselor, may help you and your spouse work to make the best decision.
Marriage Help: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Your decision comes down to two choices: staying and working on your marriage, or getting out. Here are some questions to consider:
1) Is Your Cheating Spouse Willing and Able to Work on the Marriage?
You can’t make a decision to build your marriage if your husband or wife isn’t willing to work with you, and also make the effort to repair the damage done to you and your relationship. Some considerations:
- Has your spouse 100% ended the affair?
- Is your spouse remorseful for the pain he/she has caused?
- Has your spouse communicated a desire to repair the marriage?
- Is your spouse open to couples counseling?
- Have your spouse’s actions matched his or her words?
2) What Do You Do if Your Spouse Won’t Agree to Counseling?
A lot of people are reluctant to go to a marriage counselor. They may fear being judged, feel humiliated by the idea, or just aren’t ready to put these details out there in the open—even with an objective counselor. This does not mean there is no hope for your marriage.
You have to gauge whether or not your spouse will entertain some alternative to counseling, such as sitting down and going through relationship-building exercises, or working with you on some of the suggested practices found in these blogs, including making a date/appointment to sit with you and talk openly.
3) Are You Willing to Go Through the Effort To Save Your Marriage?
Contrary to what you may be feeling at the moment, your spouse doesn’t wield all of the power in the relationship, even if their actions have sliced you to the bone. You may feel vulnerable, but this doesn’t mean you aren’t a strong person capable of making a decision based on what is right for you.
You have a tough road ahead of you: dealing with the images, the negative thoughts, and the memories, in addition to building up your own self-esteem. Is it worth it to you to also put effort into saving your marriage?
These questions are a starting point to help you look at the whole picture when it comes to deciding what to do with your marriage. You may not be able to answer some—or even all—of these questions right now, and that’s okay. There is no timeline, but understand that considering these questions and answering them will help you move forward, putting the affair behind you.
I’d like to hear about how you are making this decision in your marriage …
Have you considered couples counseling?
Is your spouse willing to work on the marriage?
Are you willing to work on the marriage? If so, what would you like to see from your spouse to encourage you to put forth the effort?
Please share your experience by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,