Should I Leave My Husband For Cheating?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

From a reader: Last year, my husband cheated. We have been together for 8 years. It was a one time thing with someone he met in a bar and he has moved mountains to make it up to me. I think I still want a divorce, though. I just don’t know. Should I leave my husband for cheating?

Every time I try to ask for a divorce, he finds a reason why I can’t (the children or finances). He actually got my name tattooed on himself and guilts me into staying.

There is good in the relationship but I’m pretty much over it. The cheating destroyed me emotionally. Should I forgive or move on?



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This is a really tough call with countless factors to consider. Many men and women learn to forgive and the couple ends up happy (sometimes happier) as they face their future. Others can’t forgive a cheating spouse and end up divorced. And some stay together, harbor resentment and really never get past it.


One thing that is a bit annoying is that your husband is guilting you into staying. You shouldn’t feel guilty.He cheated, not you. That said, the fact that “he has moved mountains to make it up” to you, as well as getting your named tattooed on himself makes me want you to give him another chance. The biggest thing, in my opinion that keeps people together is commitment. If he wants to be committed to you, that’s huge.


Should I Leave My Husband For Cheating? Here is the case for forgiving and the case for divorce:


The case for forgiving:


There is nothing in your letter that leads me to believe the two of you have unfixable problems. Assuming there is no physical or mental abuse, no addiction problems, and no other signs or cases of cheating, I think you have a good chance of working it out. The best thing is that your husband is showing overwhelming signs of remorse, and really wants to work it out. I love that he is going over the top. I think with therapy, and good, honest communication moving forward, the two of you can recover from this setback.


Michele Heffron, Divorce Coach, Life Strategist


Is it possible  you are saying “I’m pretty much over it” because your defenses are high and you are deeply, deeply hurt and afraid he will do it again? If that’s the case, that is very understandable. Through therapy and talking to each other (and time, of course) I think you can learn to trust again. I’ve seen it in couples. It is possible. The case for forgiving also includes your children. While staying for the kids is not always the best thing, keep the family together is always worth fighting for.


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The case for divorce:


Once a cheater, always a cheater? Is your husband going to cheat again if you go through a touch patch in your marriage again? Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. It is a fear that I know, personally, I would have for the rest of my life. That doesn’t mean you should get divorced, it just means you should consider that you might be on edge about it forever. But, everyone is different. The other thing is, your husband has to be willing to go to therapy. This will do wonders for your marriage. If he is adamantly against it and thinks you can fix things on your own, without professional help, that’s a problem.


In closing, the answer to your question, “Should I leave my husband for cheating?” is that the decision is yours. Believe me, it isn’t easy. I always tell people to trust your gut. Try to think of your future. Then, think about your past: he happy times (before the cheating). Do you want to try to recapture that? Also, divorce isn’t easy. It is devastating and involves an emotional roller coaster, a long process stress of a long road to healing. But, you can’t stay with someone in a bad situation because you are afraid of divorce because divorced people end up happy, too. It just takes a lot of time and hard work.

So, “Should I leave my husband for cheating?” Tough call, but eventually you will make the right choice. Be honest with yourself and have the courage to feel confident with whatever choice you make, even if it’s the more difficult one.

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    10 Responses to “Should I Leave My Husband For Cheating?”

    1. Elena Sawad

      My husband cheated on me emotionally and sexually for three years. His mistress got pregnant at some point and had an abortion. He didn’t confess, he got caught. Now he is asking me for forgiveness and give him a chance. I filed for divorce because three years is a long time. We have only been married for four years. He cheated on me while I was pregnant and ended up taking care of the baby by myself because his “business trips” were endless. Anyways. I say good riddance!

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        Disgusting. I’m so sorry. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you to focus on your child and what YOU really want and feel you deserve. I wish you all the best. xo

    2. Paul M.

      Forgiving a cheating partner is a tough decision. If he shows you that he changed for your relationship to work out then I think he is worth forgiving.

    3. Nathaniel R.

      I believe that if once a person cheats, there is a great chance that they would do it again.

    4. JoAnn McKay

      My husband cheated on me for two years before I found out. He said he wanted to stay. I let him thinking he was done with her. As it turns out he never really left her disputes staying home and travelling with me and maintaining the appearance. I spent years being anxious and thinking he was still with her, not loving me, not wanting me. Four months ago I finally said that U wasn’t happy and that we need to separate. He’s now living in a new house with her….living his life and totally ignoring me. He’s in a different city and we never speak. We were married for thirty years, two kids and 3 grandkids. As it turns out, he was simply waiting for me to leave. He would have had his two lives for ever. What a waste of my time. So yes, if he cheats….leave. Leave now.

    5. Byron

      Keep in mind that affairs are often just symptomatic of other things in a marriage being out-of-balance. Whether it’s the household finances, domestic responsibilities, intimacy, etc., imbalances can throw any marriage off its center. Nonetheless, it’s a personal DECISION by that spouse to engage in an affair.

      This is possibly the hardest decision a spouse can be reduced to. It’s even worse when there are children involved. How do you balance their emotional welfare and spare them the heartache and chaos that divorce and visitation schedules bring – versus take someone back in who you may potentially always need to keep your eye on? Along with that, are there other issues in the marriage that contributed to the affair, and are they recoverable?

      Speaking for myself, I think it finally boiled down to recognizing and accepting the kind of person that I am. Some people are capable of forgiving-and-forgetting. I’m not. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life questioning everything she did and everywhere she went. I don’t think she’d have done well then, either. In the end, it was better simply to end it. As far as the kids went, it’s been hard no doubt, but I think they’re better off than they would have been living their childhoods and teenage years wondering why Dad thinks he has to watch Mom so closely, and why Mom has to check in with Dad any time she does anything. Instead, I’m not married to her anymore, she’s their mother and I trust that she’s going to be looking after their best interests when I’m not around, and I don’t worry myself about what she’s doing otherwise. We may have a better relationship as co-parents than we had as husband-and-wife? I’m working on the forgiving part. I don’t think I’ll ever forget?

      So, I’d suggest anyone who’s facing this consider what life is going to have to look like after an affair? If YOU (because the decision really rests on YOUR shoulders) truly are the rare forgive-and-forget kind of person, and if there aren’t significant differences in the marriage otherwise, it may just be workable, and then possibly worth reconciling. If you’re like most of us though, letting the cheater back in is going to bring some serious emotional baggage and some conditions with it that may not be livable or fair for either of you, or for your children.

    6. Aron Antonicci

      Great one Jackie Pilossoph!

      Actually, We should give a chance and make him/her realize how much you love him/her and how your illicit actions effects our relationship.

    7. Stephen

      Go to and learn what staying means. Leave a cheater and gain a life. Especially if he is making his wife feel guilty for wanting a divorce. He is just buying time until he cheats again. Sorry Byron, there are no good reasons to cheat. Don’t like the marriage? Get a divorce. Go for counseling first. Can’t keep your pants on and your d#ck in your pants then don’t get married. At the end of the day it isn’t the physical act of cheating that is the problem. It is the lying, cheating and deception and the lack of trust that comes after discovery. If she thinks she needs to divorce then she needs to follow her gut. Otherwise she will waste a lot of time until he cheats again. Seems like he will – guilting her is not taking responsibility for his own actions.

    8. Joy

      Every situation is different. It doesn’t sound like he started a relationship with someone if it was just a one night thing. Sounds like he regrets it and wants forgiveness you should try to give it to him. Breaking up a family for a one night stand is not worth it. Believe me it lasts a lifetime. Maybe a fresh start with the same person is possible, now he knows what he’s risking if he cheats again not everybody does.


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