If your spouse had an affair would you leave him?

Many people would answer a resounding “yes.” After all, how could anyone even consider staying in a relationship after such a huge breach of trust? Wouldn’t a person who chose to work on the marriage be considered weak?

Ask anyone who has been through this and you will learn the answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. It’s truly impossible to imagine what it would be like to find out your husband or wife had an affair, unless you experienced it yourself.

The initial feelings of shock, pain, and devastation that come with betrayal do not erase the fact that the very person who has hurt you is someone you love and have built a life with. You may have kids, a house, close friends, in-laws and extended family you are close to. The thought of losing the life you have known is terrifying. Questions abound about your partner and the details of the affair, whether emotional or physical. You question if you really knew the person you have been closest to. And you question yourself, wondering what you did wrong.

Deciding whether to stay or go is one of the toughest decisions a person will ever make. The impact is emotional, physical, psychological, financial and spiritual. If children are involved the situation becomes even more complicated as their well-being is considered. The thought of divorce may loom as fear of the future sets in. None of the options are very appealing. Staying with someone who betrayed your trust or becoming single, being a single parent, not seeing your children every day, dating, starting over.

So what should you do? Bob and I strongly believe that before you consider separation or divorce you should give the relationship a chance. We don’t look at it as choosing to “stay” in the marriage. We look at it as “staying in uncertainty” to do couples counseling that help determine if the marriage can be saved.

If your partner is remorseful, if he is willing to “do anything” to repair the relationship, if he is willing to “own” the betrayal and go to couples counseling to gain insight into what happened, and if he’ll commit to improving communication and creating a new and more intimate relationship, then it is worth giving it a try.

And yes, couples can heal from affairs! We have worked with many of them. We can tell you the emotional work that happens in our office is not for the faint of heart. The easy decision is to leave and run away from the strong emotions created by betrayal. It takes tremendous strength to “not leave,” see if the marriage can be repaired, and a new and deeper intimacy discovered.

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To Your Relationship,

Lori and Bob Hollander