After Infidelity: Stay or Go?

When you get the devastating news that your spouse has had an affair, how do you decide whether to stay or go? Because you feel betrayed, your first impulse is usually anger, and wanting to leave fight or flight. But, after you calm down, you realize theres a lot youll lose, and you may have children to consider. Dont make an instant decision you may regret later, after the damage is done. Its possible to find an extraordinary love after divorcing late in life, but most of my clients report the potential partners out there are no better than the ones they left.

While I don't think you should stay and suffer if nothings working, in my practice I see many couples who do the work and wind up happier than before. The affair may have happened after long-standing problems in the marriage, which can actually be corrected to the satisfaction of both partners. Often dissatisfaction grows from resentment, and the root causes can be fixed with the help of counseling. If both partners are willing to change whats not working, a marriage can be improved can be turned into a satisfying life of enjoyable companionship.

I also see a fair number of couples who get back together after a divorce, because they had a chance to see what its like to be alone, and to calm down and get over petty resentments. Unfortunately, now theyre a lot poorer because of the costs of the divorce, dividing up property, and so on. Here are some reasons to stay or go:

Top 5 reasons to stay:Your spouse truly recognizes he or she has a problem, and is willing to get help to fix it, and to be accountable for rebuilding trust.You two are going to counseling, and understanding why the affair happened, and how to fix the problems.You're getting your own sex life back on track, if it was off track.You have a long, shared history, joint finances, and family ties that make it worth keeping the marriage together.You still love each other, and it's clearly mutual.Top 5 reasons to go:Your spouse is in denial, makes excuses, and blames you. This means he or she is invested in the cheating behavior, and not ready to change.You have had it, no longer feel connected, and are not willing to work on it. Be sure this isn't just temporary anger.You are prepared to be on your own.You either have no children, they're grown, or you're certain a divorce will be better for them than what's going on.Your spouse refuses to give up the other relationship, or infidelity in general.Remember, no one answer is right for everyone so make your decision based on your feelings and your needs.---About the Author:Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D, aka "Dr. Romance" is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley;) Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You're Far Apart (Adams Media.) She publishes "Happiness Tips from Tina", an e-mail newsletter, and the "Dr. Romance Blog" Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as "Oprah", "Larry King Live" and ABC news. Follow her on www.twitter.com/tinatessina.
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