Staying with someone who cheated on you is a tough call. Every situation is unique. If someone cheats, that doesn’t necessarily mean he/she will do it again. Maybe it was a wakeup call that the marriage needs help. Maybe divorce isn’t the answer. That said, is the phrase “Once a cheater, always a cheater” accurate? Do you want to live your life wondering if he/she will cheat again?
One thing that can help you decide if staying with someone who cheated on you is the right thing to do is to try marriage counseling. Maybe you tried it before the cheating, but maybe it’s worth going back. Here is one reader’s story, and her strong doubts about marriage counseling after cheating.
Cheater asked me if I would go to 1 or 2 counseling sessions just so that we could each be heard by the other. I was so stunned. I am not interested in reconciling. I know the small odds of a better marriage after a betrayal. Should I go to appease him? I can’t reconcile with a man I’m constantly calling a ‘stupid fuck’ under my breath, so I’m just wondering if going will make him stop saying he loves me and stop saying he doesn’t want to end this.
Her anger and resentment might be justified. In other words, staying with someone who cheated on you might not feel like an option.
That said, here are 5 reasons why she might want to go to marriage counseling with “Cheater.”
1. Counseling has never hurt anyone and in fact, most people say they feel a lot better after attending therapy.
You will have a chance to be heard and so will your husband. It sounds like there are a lot of long term hurts and resentments between the two of you and maybe, airing those in a supervised setting might release some of those strong and painful emotions. A good therapist will allow each of you to share your feelings in a way that is helpful and not too hurtful to the other one. Also, a good therapist will stop you both if things start to escalate so that you can approach all issues from a calmer, emotionally safer point of view.
2. Counseling may give you a chance to understand where your husband is coming from and why he cheated.
Cheating rarely happens in a bubble but rather in a long history of issues between a couple. His cheating is his problem and you should never be to blame. However, seeing things from his point of view might help you decide where you want to take the relationship from here. It will also allow you to share the pain that his cheating has caused you and to express how difficult it is for you to trust and love him moving forward. Maybe, just maybe, if he has a chance to explain himself and you have a chance to express yourself, you may each see things from a different point of view. It doesn’t mean that you will stay together necessarily but it might help you end things more amicably.
3. Therapy could help you be more friendly with each other whether you stay married or not.
Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel so much anger and resentment either way? Anger and resentment only hurt you and that’s a big burden to carry as you move forward in your life. Amicable divorces are so much more pleasant than angry ones. How much better would it feel to be able to be friends or at least pleasant ex-spouses than enemies as you end your relationship. Therapy might also help you both realize that you don’t want to end your marriage and that you are willing and excited to do the work to stay together and to have a happy, loving marriage. I know that that doesn’t sound likely or positive right now but stranger things have happened. If nothing else, therapy can help you understand yourself and what you might want for future love relationships. I’m sure you don’t want to end up with the same relationship issues for the future.
4. Therapy can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
A therapist can help you two become more amenable to negotiating the end of your marriage and dividing assets, childcare, etc. Contentious divorces only make money for lawyers and not the people getting divorced. An amicable divorce will be better for you financially now and in your future. This could change the course of your life and the quality of your life and your living situation, as well as his. Angry divorcees waste a lot of money in the divorce process, money that can be better used for a happy and content future. Even if you have the worst of feelings for your husband, being better at negotiating with him will be better for you in the long run.
5. You don’t mention children, however, if you do have them, going to therapy will be beneficial for them and other family members as well.
Divorce is very hard for children and other relatives. It is far easier when the people divorcing are kinder to each other and feel less animosity toward each other. Children can easily thrive during a divorce if their parents aren’t angry and hurt all the time. Your emotional health is the most important aspect of this. A therapist can help you with that whether you stay with your husband or not. Also, other family members can be effected by a contentious divorce as well. Our parents, siblings, etc. can be caught in the middle of a hateful, angry divorce. The more emotionally strong and calm you feel, the better it will be for you and for those you love.
The bottom line is that you don’t have much to lose by going to a counselor or coach. Getting some emotional help will give you the strength to make a decision that is right for you, save you money, heartache, aggravation, and hardships for your family and his.
Almost all people who visit a therapist or a counselor report that they feel better just by having someone to talk to. If you really don’t want to go to a therapist with your husband, you could always go by yourself and work some of these issues out on your own. Either way, be kind to yourself as you navigate a painful and challenging time.
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
Like this article? Check out, “The Stages of Divorce Can Feel Like a Roller Coaster”