Dear Suzie, In the light of everything I have discovered about my wife’s affair, I’m having a difficult time deciding if it’s even worth saving my marriage. Sometimes I feel that it would be better for me to just cut my losses. At other times, I feel there’s plenty to stay for. Suzie, with all the lies and dishonesty, I just don’t know what’s true anymore. Can you help me?
I must agree with you, making this decision requires some careful thought. Only you can decide whether your marriage is worth fighting for, or whether it would be better for you to walk away. But let me tell you right off the bat: whichever way you go, the path won’t be easy. In fact, as I often tell couples: It takes about the same amount of energy to divorce as it does to rebuild. Neither option is an easy option.
Decide to rebuild… and it won’t be easy.
Decide to walk away… and it won’t be easy.
Here’s the kicker: There’s no guarantee that either option will work.
Here’s what I mean…
I’ve worked with people who split in the heat of the moment when they discovered their partner’s infidelity — only to find themselves back on the dating scene, facing the same (or worse) problems than they had with their previous partner. And on the other hand, you can work your butt off to save a marriage torn apart by infidelity, only to have something else come along and tear it apart again.
Save this marriage, or start over with someone new – neither comes with guarantees. Because while you can trade partners, you don’t (and can’t) trade problems. The next woman down the line will wind up facing the same temptations as the one you are married to now.
Am I saying that every woman is doomed to being unfaithful?
No, that’s not what I’m saying.
What I am pointing to is that no partner or relationship comes with guarantees. There’s no insurance policy you can buy against betrayal… and that’s why jumping from one ship to another doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a smoother cruise.
Am I suggesting you should stay in your marriage regardless of your wife’s betrayal?
NO. Again, that’s not what I’m saying. I believe there are times when “staying together at any price” is too high of a price to pay. The point I’m making here is that you don’t want to decide based on which option you believe will be easier. (Because neither option is easy.)
Here’s a better idea.
Before you throw in the towel, why not sit down together and take an honest appraisal of the life you’ve built together? Take your time. Don’t let your emotions decide. Don’t let your pride decide. Don’t let fear decide. Don’t let discomfort or the urge to run away decide.
I’ve often found that a list of the pros and the cons can be very useful when facing a difficult decision. It might sound naïve, and yet sometimes, just seeing things written down in black and white on a sheet of paper can bring more clarity than trying to sort it out in your head. (Chances are, it just might help.) Now, Let’s take it one step further.
Coming up next, I consider the 10 most compelling reasons to save a marriage after infidelity. What makes them so compelling? They are compelling because not only are they rooted in love, but they are some of the best indicators that your reconciliation will be successful.
Notice how many of these are on your own list. The more matches you find, the more likely saving your marriage will be rewarding (rather than regretful).
The 10 most compelling reasons to
save your marriage after infidelity
Because you believe True Love Will Not Let You Down
LOVE is the greatest motivator for healing a broken relationship. If underneath all the pain, hurt, anger, rage, fear, and defensiveness, you get a sense there’s something worth fighting for… and if you know in your heart that it’s worth it, and you both want a life together… then Love will not let you down. Remember: We can’t lose the power of Love — we can only cover up our awareness of it.
Because true Forgiveness Ends All Arguments
The Love inside you can (and will) inspire true forgiveness if you allow it. However, the ego will urge you to cling to the hurt, resentment, and grievances. On the days when you feel inspired to forgive the one who’s betrayed you, that’s the Love in you talking. Whenever you feel trapped by resentment, bitterness, and anger, that’s the ego talking. Remember: People don’t fall out of Love; they only fall out of forgiveness.
Because One Bad Decision Doesn't Erase 99 Good Decisions
Sometimes, it helps to strip things down to the basics. Looking at what the mathematics say about a relationship (rather than what the emotions say) can be a good way of seeing your relationship truly logistically. Consider this example: Let’s say a couple has been married for 15 years. That’s more than 131,000 hours they’ve invested in building a life together. And let’s say a partner’s indiscretion lasts about 2 months. That works out to be about 1,400 hours spent in deception and dishonesty.
Overall, what does the math tell us?
When we compare the partner’s 131,000 hours of fidelity with the 1,400 hours of dishonesty, what do we find? Well, it turns out that 99% of the marriage remains untouched by infidelity. It’s that 99% that’s worth staying for.
Because You Believe Your Partner Is Worthy Of A Second Chance
I believe everyone deserves a second chance. Do you? If you said no, then chances are, that’s the fear in you talking.
Look over your own life and notice that along the way, your parents, teachers, friends, lovers, and even Mother Nature herself must have given you plenty of second chances.
How do I know? Because we all make mistakes. There are no exceptions. And if we all make mistakes (including you), it means that somewhere along the line, someone gave you a second chance.
Two things (both are related):
1. Desire to punish and (2) Fear of being taken advantage of or hurt again.
In both cases, it’s really just the fear talking. Think about it.
Where does the desire to punish come from?
Well, punishment is our way of evening the score. The reason to punish (including by divorce, verbal abuse, or contemptuous treatment) is ultimately because we’re afraid someone will get away with hurting us.
But does punishment really bring justice?
Not really. In fact, the desire to punish a partner is usually just a way to exact some measure of revenge. And revenge and justice are not the same thing. But what about that fear of being hurt or taken advantage of again? Well, that’s the risk you must take (whether you stay with her or move on).
However, there’s good news…
It’s a risk you can live with. How do I know you can live with that risk? Because you already do.
Here’s the deal.
When it comes to loving any human being, you must risk. That’s because we are walking imperfections with a huge built-in propensity for mistake-making. Marriage is a commitment, but it’s not a guarantee. There are no guarantees. Remember: Second chances are given out of compassion, not out of pride.
Because you Believe You Can Learn From This
In the minds of victims, everything happens TO them. In the hearts of survivors, everything happens FOR them.
Which mindset do you identify with?
If you allow yourself to feel victimized by this, then you’ll be engulfed in feelings of powerlessness and guilt. It’s like taking a hit on the chin, and instead of getting back up and dusting yourself off, you were to simply sit there.
Is feeling victimized after infidelity justified? Yes. Is it helpful? No.
Consider the following questions:
Because You Believe Your Partner Can Grow From This
Partners who cross the line from fidelity to infidelity can be compared to children who have been warned repeatedly not to play with matches but disobey and end up burning down the barn.
It can be a rude awakening.
Like rebellious children, it’s only when they see the devastation, hurt, and pain their actions have caused, that the enormity of what they’ve done really sinks in. But the similarities don’t end there. If you were to ask these children, “Don’t you know it’s wrong to play with matches?” chances are, they would tell you yes.
The same goes for wayward partners. Most know ahead of time what they’re doing is wrong.
And if you were to ask the child who played with matches, “So if you knew it was wrong, then why did you do it?” chances are good the answer would be something along the lines of, “I was just having fun. I never thought anything bad would happen.”
Well, guess what?
That’s pretty much the response you’ll get from most partners who have strayed from their marriage vows.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Sometimes what we think will happen and what actually happens winds up being two completely different things. This is why temptation is usually a slippery slope for the naïve and the arrogant. Remember: Wisdom comes from experience, and a lot of that experience comes from making mistakes. If you believe your partner can learn from their mistakes, it’s wise to give them the opportunity to do so.
The Lessons Don't Go Away Until You Learn Them
It’s been said that marriage is God’s adult classroom, and our experiences are like books, in that they are for learning. Some marital lessons are universal; others are more specific to the individual. One thing is for sure: You can trade marriage partners, but you can’t trade the universal marital lessons.
What are the universal marriage lessons?
In my opinion, the two biggest lessons of marriage are: 1) how to Love; and 2) how to forgive.
Here’s the thing: every marriage eventually hits a rough patch. Each partner will get an opportunity to face love and forgiveness issues. Sadly, though, some assume they can avoid learning these two life lessons by abandoning the marriage or relationship, only to find later… they’re facing the same things in another relationship.
There is no running away from the issues.
Learning to forgive and learning to Love are part of the universal curriculum. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can avoid the lessons by ending the marriage. Remember: the lessons don’t go away until you learn them.
Because There Are More Reasons To Stay Than Reasons To Walk Away
Let’s go back to your list of pros and cons for a moment. If you did the exercise and you’ve discovered that despite the cons, the hurt, the pain, and the heartache, you were still able to find more reasons for staying than for walking away, then congratulations!
This doesn’t surprise me.
Because in a good marriage, infidelity is like a dark cloud covering up the sun, but in no way does it put out the sun. Sometimes, we all need to be able to see the benefits in black and white.
If the good outweighs the bad…
Then it’s time to apply some empowerment psychology. What this means is that instead of focusing on what’s wrong, begin to focus more and more on what’s right, what’s good, and what’s strong. Remember: Focusing on the good is what increases that good.
because you’re the type that got Married For Good
Many people say they are married for better or for worse, but not for good. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t consider the idea of quitting to be an option, then rebuilding is your next logical step. However, it’s also important to note that if you save and then rebuild your marriage following the same blueprint as before, you’re going to get the same results again. I know that’s not what you want. Then you might want to read my article on Rebuilding your marriage with passionate monogamy.
And that rings us to the #1 reason to rebuild your marriage.
Save your marriage if you believe this could turn into the Best Worst Thing To Have Ever Happened To Your Marriage
People ask me all the time how on Earth something as devastating and treacherous as infidelity could end up becoming the best worst thing that ever happened to them.
Here’s my answer to that.
A brush with infidelity becomes the best-worst thing IF:
IF it shows you how to survive, despite all the reasons to feel victimized.
IF it helps you learn the big lessons of life — like forgiveness, trust, and unconditional Love.
IF it awakens you from sleep walking through your life.
IF it helps you form a marriage that is stronger than betrayal.
IF it helps you learn the big lessons of life — like forgiveness, trust, and unconditional Love.
IF you both grow more honest and authentic with each other.
And perhaps the best reason of all…
IF it gives you the emotional courage needed to trust despite the fear.
IF it helps to take your marriage another higher level, where you end up with the kind of loving, sexy, committed and authentic marriage that confounds your enemies, but totally inspires your friends and family.
Best news? Many other couples have gone to experience that exact thing after a brush with infidelity (myself included).
Am I saying that what happened to you was a good thing?
Nope. That’s not what I’m saying. (Perish the thought!)
Here’s what I’m getting at: I believe if you are willing to save your marriage for the right reasons and if you have the right skills and take the right approach – then there’s a way to transform infidelity from a curse into a blessing.
And if you’d like to accept my help in making that transformation in your own marriage– then consider taking my marriage rehab masterclass collection, because in that program is where I get into the nuts and bolts, tools and more advanced techniques for exactly how you go about accomplishing that – you can read more about my rebuild your marriage couples masterclass collection.
Imagine yourself at some point in the future – somewhere between six months or six years from today, and you and your wife are holding hands on some warm exotic beach somewhere and are both able to honestly look back at this point in your marriage and say, “Although we went through the fire, we survived, and learning how to survive together, was the best worst thing that ever happened to us.”
Does thinking of such a moment is possible inspire hope in you? If so, then saving your marriage might be just be the way to go for you.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!