Infidelity in your marriage: Must it lead to divorce?That little voice inside you has been at you. Something is not right with your relationship. You suspect the worst. The signs are there. And then, sadly and finally, you come to the realization that your partner is having an affair. What's next? Just know that many have walked this path before you and it's worth learning about the subject itself to realize there are answers and options.
A surprisingly wide definition of infidelity
We commonly think of infidelity as physical: cheating by having sex outside of marriage. But, it's also defined as breaking the trust of being sexually exclusive with each other. It is about lying, betrayal and disloyalty to your partner. You can actually be considered to be unfaithful in a committed relationship in a number of ways:
- Physically - involving sex with someone outside your marriage
- Financially - lying to your partner about money or spending issues
- Emotionally - where you're sharing time, love and attention with someone (it can be physically or even online) outside your relationship
- In the workplace - where you cheat on your partner by having an affair with someone at your workplace
There's even a classification of exact types of infidelity like Opportunistic, Obligatory, Romantic, Conflicted Romantic or Commemorative Infidelity but, Wikipedia definitions aside, the pain is universal no matter how you define the act. And, so that you really see you're not alone, statistics show that cheating happens in anywhere from 20 % to 60% of all marriages.
Facing the facts of infidelity: What are your options?
Divorce is not the only option if you find your spouse has been cheating on you. Many couples have found they can overcome the "big bang" of infidelity rocking their relationship and have emerged with their relationship not only in tact -- but renewed with more urgency placed on honesty and commitment to each other. They've done this in a number of ways including giving space to the spouse who's been cheated on to come to grips with it, for the cheating spouse to stop cheating and stay committed to repairing the relationship, through a spiritual solution in turning to God and through marriage counseling with a licensed therapist. So, it's no doubt a formidable task to mend a cheating heart and heal a marriage, but it is not insurmountable.
Overcoming it for your sake and your kids' sake
Letting the infidelity tear apart your marriage can take a toll on you emotionally and also physically. The Mayo Clinic posts the importance of trying to reconcile your marriage after infidelity, if not for the sake of keeping your marriage together and lessen pain on you and children you may have, but for health reasons as well. When children are involved, the effects can be lasting so careful consideration must be put into the decision on whether to end your marriage. It's each couples' decision based on the nature of their kids on whether they tell their kids about the affair but some things to consider:
- If the kids are young, you may want to skip telling them the reason and just say that parents are human and make mistakes and you're trying to work on it together
- If your kids are teens, you may opt to be honest with them but in all cases, don't make them feel that they were in any way responsible for any problems in your marriage. Also always let them know -- no matter what they're age -- that they're loved. Resist leaning on the teen as a confidant or counselor -- letting them know this is not their issue but yours both to solve together.
If divorce is the only option
You may come to the realization that divorce is the only way out of the situation. If so, it's critical you find a qualified divorce attorney who can help you get through the process expeditiously. Most U.S. states recognize adultery as a viable ground for divorce. The legal issues surrounding adultery vary by state -- and so do "fault"/"no fault" laws -- where you may be required to show proof that one spouse cheated before being granted a divorce. There is also a considerable financial consideration if you're considering a divorce and a set process to undergo so all the more reason to find a qualified divorce attorney to guide you through the process.
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