If you’ve been wondering…. when should divorce be a serious consideration after infidelity or should divorce after the affair, then reading this article will prove helpful. Here I share with you my top five signs aside with some straight talk about divorce after infidelity.
Keep mind – I am an advocate for rebuilding over divorcing and so I don’t share these 5 signs lightly. Please take them in the spirit they are being presented as red flags and not as predictors of failure or success. And as always, you can use the menu below to go a particular section or read along at your own pace.
In this article you will find
Do you remember where you were the first time you heard the term “conscious uncoupling?” It was probably sometime back in 2014 when actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin (frontman for Coldplay) announced the breakup of their marriage using those terms – And ever since then, it’s become “a thing”
Let the stone-throwing begin…
However, back in 2014 when Paltrow first used this term, it unleashed such a barge of ridicule and negativity from the public – it reportedly broke the internet. Paltrow was labeled as being “pretentious” for daring to decide for herself what she wanted her divorce to mean –instead of just following the accepted description.
Divorce lessons from Gwyneth Paltrow
According to the online dictionary, unconscious uncoupling “is the act of ending a marriage or relationship in a way that viewed as a very positive step for both partners”.
Today, when people want to consciously uncouple, many will be following what I call the Gwyneth Paltrow approach to uncoupling
Having the last laugh?
Now, many years later it seems that Paltrow and Chris Martin may be enjoying the last laugh, as by their own accounts by taking this mindful approach to divorce not only has helped them sustain a cordial post-marriage relationship… but it’s also helped them to create a healthy co-parenting dynamic, which in turn has helped their children to thrive rather than decline after the divorce.
Could this type of post-divorce outcome be possible for other couples?
I believe it is. And I am going to tell you why. But first, let’s have some straight talk about divorce after infidelity.
Straight talk about Divorce after infidelity
How do you feel about divorce? The reason I ask is because how a person feels about divorce can have a lot to do with cultural conditioning. In many cultures, the word “divorce” is like the word “cancer” — it comes with a lot of hidden stigmas.
For example, …
In many Latin American cultures, divorce is strongly associated with loss of value, a sense of inadequacy, or diminishment of some kind. Therefore, in many Latin American cultures, divorce isn’t only a bad thing — it’s a disgrace.
In certain parts of Asia (China, for example), divorce is attached to dishonor. Therefore, many Asian wives and husbands would put up with unspeakable acts of betrayal rather than seek a divorce because, in their culture, divorce equals dishonor.
In our own highly competitive Western culture, divorce is often linked to losing. Because of this, many Americans would rather stick it out than be seen as someone who failed.
But is any of this true?
Does divorce really signal failure? Is it really a symbol of personal disgrace? Does it really mean dishonor? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced that divorce means any of those things. I think the question that bears asking isn’t so much what divorce means to you, but more importantly, what does marriage mean to you?
Here’s why: The meaning you give to marriage has a lot to do with the meaning you attach to divorce.
The purpose you give to marriage informs the meaning you give to divorce
For example, …
But What if there was another way to look at marriage?
What if you were to view marriage the way author Gary Zukav views marriage: a spiritual partnership between two people who promise themselves to use all of their experience to grow spiritually”?
Then, I believe your perspective on divorce would change.
Because when marriage becomes about “growth”- then divorce becomes a graduation from a relationship, where all the lessons possible for two people have been completed.
And as far as I can tell,
It’s by taking this higher perspective of marriage that allows couples like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to liberate their divorce experience from the stigmas of failure and straitjackets of shame – long held in place by society.
None of these outcomes are possible if you aren’t willing to “rethink” the meaning you give to marriage in the first place … and if you aren’t willing to decide for yourself what you want your divorce experience to look and feel like… rather than letting society dictate to you.
And as you consider that – also consider this:
It takes as much energy to rebuild a marriage as it will to peacefully divorce, move into a cordial post-marital relationship, and create a healthy co-parenting dynamic where your children thrive rather than decline…
And, so before you throw in the towel – here are three things I want you to consider.
4 things to consider before you write-off your marriage after infidelity
1. Divorce isn’t a faster route to pain relief.
It takes just as much energy to rebuild as it does to divorce. Chances are you will spend just as much time, work, effort, and money attempting to divorce in the best way as you would attempting to rebuild; so please don’t jump into divorce thinking it’s going to be a faster route to pain relief (because it isn’t).
2. Divorce won’t help you avoid the lessons.
You might trade relationship partners, but you don’t trade relationship problems. That’s because certain problems are universal to all relationships. So if, for example, you had issues with communication, honesty, intimacy, boredom, and conflict in this relationship– but you didn’t learn how to address these issues, chances are they are going to show up in the next relationship as well – because the lessons won’t go away until you learn them.
3. Divorce doesn’t replace forgiveness.
Whether you stay or go, you are going to have to forgive. Because if you don’t forgive and you move on, you will be taking the baggage from this relationship with you into next… and that the last thing you want to do, because a second marriage is challenging enough without having to deal with the baggage from this first one.
4. Divorce doesn’t reestablish self-worth.
When infidelity rocks a marriage, the betrayed partner’s self-esteem is one of its biggest casualties. And while it is very tempting to assume divorcing the unfaithful partner will be a salve for wounded pride and reestablish our self-esteem, I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality check:
Being divorced does not establish self-esteem – no more than being married does. The most they can do provide the “illusion” of self-esteem – but neither can actually provide it.
So now that you know more about what divorce cannot do for you – it’s time to talk about when divorce becomes a serious consideration after the discovery of an affair.
If you’ve been reading this website for any length of time, then it should be clear to you that I am more of an advocate for rebuilding your marriage after an affair than I am for divorce. However, I do acknowledge that not all marriages can be or should be saved. There are times when divorce should be a serious consideration.
Coming up next are my five signs that I believe indicates that divorce is a serious consideration after an affair.
These are presented as red flags – not as recommendations for divorce. So please approach them in the spirit they are intended. With that said; here are my five signs that divorce should be a serious consideration after an affair.
5 signs divorce should be a serious Consideration after an affair
The Affair is the Final Straw. In other words, it’s just another example in a long line of hurtful, immature, or irresponsible behavior. Your marriage was unhealthy before the affair, and the affair confirms what both of you already knew: This marriage just isn’t right for either partner.
Emotional Transference. When there’s been emotional transference, it means the affair has gone beyond infatuation and all the way into wholehearted love. Even if it’s painful to admit… if you know deep down in your heart that your feelings have transferred to the affair partner, please admit it. You deserve to be with the person you truly want to be with (and with a person who truly wants to be with you), and so does your spouse.
Abuse of Any Kind. Whether it’s emotional, verbal, physical, or substance abuse – no type, shade, or style of abuse is acceptable. If you’re facing this situation, please get help right away. I urge you to make plans to remove yourself to safety. Love doesn’t grow without safety and your happiness isn’t worth sacrificing for the sake of being in a relationship.
Affairs as Rewards. People who link having an affair to their reward centers or as compensation for a job well done, for being a good provider or being a dutiful partner, tend to have difficulty sustaining fidelity in long-term monogamy. And, so may be better suited for non-traditional types of marriages.
Because, while on the one hand…
None of those are the same as hardening your heart.
So, what do I mean by hardening your heart?
Hardening your heart is the deliberate process of shutting down emotions and closing off access to higher states like reason, compassion, and empathy in order to protect ourselves.
For example, …
• Hardening your heart – is like growing calluses to numb emotional sensations
• Hardening your heart –is like building a wall to protect you and having that wall imprison you at the same time.
• Hardening your heart –is like increasing the bad cholesterol in your diet in order to produce the type of plague that cuts off the flow of love in and out of your heart.
I wonder if you noticed.
How hardening the heart, gives the illusion of preventing pain; while causing pain at the same time? This is an important observation because that which prevents pain and that which causes pain cannot be the same.
Harding your heart as a reaction to the hurt brought on by infidelity is not the way to heal that hurt. And it will not prevent future hurt – it only perpetuates the hurt.
And maybe this is why…?
Maybe this is why even there are so many Bible stories warning us against doing this? The Pharaoh of Egypt was said to have hardened his heart against letting the people of Israel go, and the Pharisees were known to specialize in this type of reaction… and yet, in the long run, neither prospered in the long run.
And it’s the same in the aftermath of infidelity.
Just like in the days of old – the hardening of hearts – tends to lead to more destruction, and not correction.
Because, if a person deliberately disconnects themselves from empathy (hardening the heart) it means they are no longer “see” the other person’s humanity; they can only see the person’s behavior, and this type of dissociating leads to a level of cynicism and callousness that is difficult – if not impossible for others to override.
And if you think about it – it makes sense
Since you are the only true authority in your life – this means no one can make you harden your heart and no one (except maybe the divine?) can make you soften your heart.
And without a source of positive energy to nurture it; the love connection between two people slowly dies. Hence the reason this is such a big Red flag for divorce after infidelity.
So, there you have it.
My 5 signs of when divorce should be a serious consideration after an affair. And if you should find that you have one or more of these signs present in your situation, here are my top 3 next steps suggestions.
Here are my 3 step suggestions
Do try marriage counseling before you throw in the towel.
If you feel your heart is hardened – do try spiritual counseling before you make any major decisions (talk to your pastor, rabbi or priest).
If you are sure about divorce and you want to do it well; buy and read the book: Conscious Uncoupling by Katherine Woodward Thomas.
With that said,
I have faith that you found something helpful here today that helps to shed some light on your own situation.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!