It is a question that has probably crossed the mind of every victim of marital infidelity at some point: should I try to reconcile with my unfaithful spouse? After all, anyone can make a mistake, and the longer you have been married, the harder and more expensive it is to walk away from a relationship.
On the other hand, the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” also comes to mind. How can you ever have trust again in a spouse who has cheated on you with another person?
First, Remove the Emotions
In order to make a decision about whether to reconcile, it is important to separate emotion from logic. Infidelity is a highly emotional issue, surrounded by feelings of betrayal, anger, jealousy and even depression. It is important to separate your emotions from your logical considerations and understand each for what they are.
It may help you to define your “deal breakers” prior to considering whether you can reconcile with your spouse. This means defining what exactly infidelity means to you. If your partner engaged in a romantic online relationship but not an actual physical relationship, would you consider that cheating? If it was a one-night stand but there was no subsequent relationship, is that enough to end your marriage? Be specific about what you define as infidelity so that you have a basis from which to clearly negotiate your terms for a possible reconciliation.
It is also important to think about your health and safety. If your partner has engaged in extramarital relations with a person who could have a sexually transmitted disease or who might be dangerous to one or both of you if rejected, you must deal with this reality before any type of reconciliation can proceed.
Next, Counsel Yourself
Many people rush to marriage counseling after an affair in an attempt to salvage the relationship. However, it may be worth to see a counselor one on one as well. The logic behind this is simple: infidelity does not happen in a vacuum. Many events and unresolved issues has led up to the infidelity. It is important that you deal with your emotions before attempting to deal with your spouse’s.
It may also help to discuss your options with a family law attorney. An attorney can explain to you the pros and cons of a divorce or reconciliation and, most importantly, your options to protect yourself against possible future problems.