Does infidelity have to break up a marriage?
1st September 2011
I was interested to read the article in several of the papers yesterday about the reasons that people are giving for divorce. The article in the Guardian http://bit.ly/ppRZAO says that fewer people are citing adultery as their primary reason for divorce and more people are citing falling out of love. Many people who come to our groups have left their partners because of the unbearable pain of discovering their partner’s infidelity. Discovery usually comes as a brutal shock and calls into question all those shared experiences that have been taken for granted. Trust flies out of the window as does all sense of self esteem. So, does it always have to be the death knell of a marriage?
It is a long way back from infidelity to recreating a trusting relationship but people do it. Sometimes infidelity is a person’s way of saying that they haven’t been happy and something is missing (not always sex) perhaps emotional needs not being met. If it is a ‘protest statement’ and both people feel that there is something to salvage and are willing to try then with help things can be fixed. It is often not the physical act itself (although the thought of a loved one being with someone else is painful enough) but the lack of communication by the betraying partner that things have gone so badly wrong, that they are looking elsewhere that is often the most difficult thing for people to understand. Many people feel that they had no idea that anything was wrong until the moment of discovery. Often people say that others viewed them as the perfect couple and they are therefore left bewildered and confused.
There are many reasons for infidelity and there can be many reasons to stay together. Sometimes, it is a way out and the unfaithful partner is using it as a reason for leaving. However, sometimes it is a message about something neglected in the marriage and if it is possible to listen to the message and use it together to grow stronger then with a leap of faith, a lot of help, a wish to invest in something that was good it doesn’t have to break up a marriage.
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