By Kristen Houghton
Why Women Stay With Cheating Husbands
We see her on the news, in the flash of cameras, a well-dressed attractive, women standing beside her husband as he addresses the media. With sad, haunted eyes, she hears her husband state that he has been unfaithful to her. Even as we watch in curiosity, our hearts go out to them as we secretly thank God that it not us standing at the podium having our dirty laundry aired for all to see.
Infidelity is extremely difficult to deal with when only you and your spouse know about it. Having the complete world know that your spouse cheated is catastrophic to your self-esteem. It is humiliating and degrading. Divorce seems the only real option to this disgrace. He cheated, you’re leaving, that’s it.
Months later we’re shocked that these same women who were so publicly humiliated have decided to remain with the spouse who cheated.
And yet, many women choose to stay with their husbands, try to rebuild their marriages and make them stronger. It isn’t just women whose lives are in the spotlight; women from all walks of life remain in a marriage after a cheating husband has confessed his infidelities. There are many reasons for this decision.
Some stay for religious reasons. They view marriage as sacred, a union sanctified by God. Others stay for the sake of their children. Still others make this decision because of the length of years they have spent with their spouse. Then there are those who have a love deep enough to forgive and go forward together. Whatever the reasons, infidelity is not always an automatic step towards divorce.
Can these women really overcome the pain and humiliation of infidelity? Will their marriages survive to become a workable partnership once more? Is there married life after the infidelity? The answer to these questions is a surprising yes. It will take time and understanding.
Marriage in and of itself is a complicated union. Two people make promises to each other and begin to live a life together. Add love and trust to the mix and you have a strong bond between a woman and a man. Most of these unions are successful in that vows are honored and a common ground for living together is planned and accepted.
Infidelity damages the indelible bond of trust on which all relationships, most especially marriage, is based. If a person chooses to stay with the spouse who cheated there are certain issues to be addressed by both partners.
The cheating spouse must be truly contrite and make a solid commitment to never again be unfaithful. There can be no compromise about this.
Trust can never be completely reinstated and the husband who has broken that trust must understand this fact. Knowledge of his daily whereabouts is no longer simply a matter of courtesy; it is a necessity for his wife’s emotional health.
Couples counseling is a must. There are many therapists who deal specifically with issues of infidelity and are especially helpful in charting a constructive course for the marriage.
The “cheated on” spouse needs to rebuild her self-esteem by taking care of herself emotionally and physically. An exercise plan to release feelings of anger and despair, a healthy diet, will contribute to a feeling of well-being.
Individual counseling is also needed. Whether you choose to go to a spiritual advisor or a therapist for counseling, it is a necessary part of the healing process for you. You need to understand that his cheating was in no way your fault nor that “the other woman” was in any way “better” than you.
You do not have to forgive. Acceptance of human frailties is what is needed.
Marriages can be repaired after infidelity. Time and effort on the part of both spouses need to become part of daily life. Kindness, patience, and reassurance on the part of the husband who cheated are expected.
Surprisingly the very same infidelity that has the potential to destroy a marriage, can also make a couple realize how close they have come to losing all that is important in their life together. It can work to rebuild a marriage that may become stronger for having survived this breach of trust.
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