Once a cheater, always a cheater” right?
Looking at several studies, it’s been determined that between 20% to 70% of people have cheated on their spouses. There are sources explaining the reasons for these indiscretions, which we’ve discussed before, as well as tips to help survive the affair.
Knowing about the many facets of infidelity can empower you to have the kind of marriage you desire after a spouse has cheated. Some things to keep in mind are the reasons people cheat, who they cheated with, and the nature of the affair (physical, emotional, or a combination there of.)
People cheat for a lot of reasons. Sexual dissatisfaction is often cited, but the primary reason that most studies show for men and women to cheat is actually emotional dissatisfaction. A couple often identifies emotionally-based reasons, such as not being desired enough, a lack of communication, or differing values.
Nevertheless, if you’re one of the ones that has been cheated on, here are some important concerns to reflect on before reconciliation.
1. Do they have a parent or close friend who has cheated?
If yes, you shouldn’t underestimate how this influences your spouse. They could be getting an internalized message that cheating is acceptable or just part of life. Watch to be sure your partner is spending time, especially nights out, with known cheaters. You don’t want to be controlling, but if he or she isn’t responsive to your concerns, then it might be a red flag. If this behavior continues, a cheater will be at risk for ongoing improprieties.
2. Are they good at compartmentalizing?
To compartmentalize is often a defense mechanism that people use to separate internal conflicting thoughts from one another. People have a tendency to compartmentalize parts of their lives so they can better control stressors. For instance, we may act a certain way at our jobs, another way around family, and yet another way with our family.
If your spouse compartmentalizes a lot, this could be a bad sign. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing–successful people use it to get ahead in the world–sociopaths are also known to be exceptionally good at compartmentalizing.
3. Are they expressing enough guilt and genuine remorse for the affair?
In therapy, most cheaters will honestly feel guilty about their affairs and want to make amends. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the cheating behavior stops. Some people don’t feel regretful in the slightest–they may see the affair as justifiable ramifications for the marriage being bad.
If they’re falling into the ‘not remorseful’ category, taking them back is ill-advised. The cheater must see their wrong, or they’ll never be able to reconnect with you emotionally and with honesty. Even with a bad marriage, the accountability was still on both of you, not just you. You should also hear them verbalize, be sincere, and apologize a lot.
4. Are you sure the affair is over?
If they remain involved with the other person on any level, then it’s not completely over, and you’ll never be able to move forward. They can’t be in contact. No Facebook friendship, texts, phone calls, working together–nothing. Your spouse should be able to prove to you beyond a doubt that by being very transparent.
5. Is the damage beyond repair?
In some cases, it’s not advisable to take back a cheater. If you aren’t married and don’t have children together, it may be best to separate afterward. Be warned that some people will continue to cheat whether or not they’re satisfied with the marriage. Such a person is likely not to remain faithful. It’s imperative to find out if the cheating one was time or if it’s a sign of a pattern.
It’s also entirely possible to rebound from an affair and have a happy marriage after.
If you’re able to sift through the concerns listed here and decide to work it out still, we highly suggest that you seek therapy to work through the issues you’re going to have. The goals of therapy should be forgiveness, rebuild trust, and recreate that strong emotional connection.
Each person should be able to discuss their thoughts and feelings clearly with regards to the transgression. If you decide to take them back, be conscious of your decision to move forward and don’t stay stuck in the space between anger and forgiveness. Only then can you and your marriage recover from the infidelity. – C. Sky