Will you be better off forgiving those who have cheated on you?
According to Divorce Magazine, in America, about 45 to 50 percent of married women and 50 to 60 percent of married men have cheated on their spouses. 70% of couples, however, actually stay together after an affair is discovered.
What does this forgiveness entail? Will the marriage ever return to normal?
Forgiveness is an option after accepting the truth
Married couples realize that life isn’t just a fairytale after the wedding. Some relationships become stronger after marriage while others falter as time passes. Differences in living habits, values and a decrease in attraction towards each other may put a strain on the marriage. Sometimes this could lead to infidelity.
People deal with an affair differently. Some may give up on the marriage, while others may choose to forgive. Whatever the choice you make after weighing the pros and cons will have to be accepted by everyone involved. If it hurts more to give up than forgive, forgiveness may be the best option.
Forgiveness is not a compromise
Because of circumstance, some can’t just simply give up on the marriage. Some are afraid of how it may affect their children and others may fear they won’t be able to find someone better. And so, they feel it’s better to compromise.
These compromises can provide clues into the type of relationship between spouses. For example, if one side has more “control” over the other, such as being more financially secure, and they’re the ones that cheat, then the other half may choose to accept it for what it is for fear of losing the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.
On the other hand, choosing to forgive means coming to terms with the pros and cons of forgiveness itself and accepting one’s own choice to forgive the other. The ability to come to terms with that and ultimately choose to preserve the marriage is a strength in and of itself.
The one who cheated still plays a crucial role in saving the marriage
Repairing the damage done to the relationship still requires effort from both sides. Renowned psychological researcher John Mordecai Gottman, who did extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability, stated that there are three things that the married couple have to work on:
- Atonement. The partner who betrayed has to be open about the details of their affair and assure, not just through words but also through action, that an affair would never happen again.
- Rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust requires dialoguing about problems – both ongoing perpetual problems and past issues that might have caused some injury to the relationship. Communication skills provided by a therapist can help the navigation of these discussions go more smoothly.
- Tuning back. Once the couple has turned back into each other, it will be helpful to create some meaningful rituals to stay connected. Couples can be creative about ways to do that which are special and unique to them.
Lastly, John Gottman raised three questions aimed to determine whether or not to end a relationship:
- Do you still have confidence that you and your partner would live together happily?
- Do you think that your anger and resentment have subsided enough for you to begin a new chapter in your lives?
- Can you forgive your partner?
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