I get this question all the time -I have forgiven him/her over and over again, and for the same stuff, and I just can’t take it anymore. When is it time to call it quits and just file for divorce? Well, the short answer is never. It is never okay to call it quits on your spouse or significant other any more than it is okay to call it quits on a child or on a baby.
It’s never okay to give up on your spouse
When our children mess up, do we only give them one chance to behave and never do anything wrong again or we will give them up for adoption? No, of course not! Do we only give our fur babies one shot at not digging holes in the backyard before getting rid of them? No, of course not! Then why do we, as a society, think it is okay to give up on the person that we have chosen, and for some, that God has chosen to partner us with, and not even bat an eyelash? Is it this immediate gratification age that we are living in perpetuating the feelings that if I don’t like something in my life, all I have to do is get rid of it and get something new?
Or is it because of some programming within ourselves that tells us that this person is damaged and if I stay with them, then I am damaged, too? Or perhaps it is a belief that they will never change and therefore we have to leave to save ourselves or our children?
The truth of the matter is we tend to see in others, especially those closest to us, those traits and qualities we do not like in ourselves. I am, by no means saying that a spouse or partner of a cheater is also a cheater, but the typical case is that the person being cheated on wants to leave the relationship because they see the partner as damaged and think that they cannot ever be the type of person they truly want to be with, so they must leave. They are seeing in their partner what they truly see in themselves, they just choose to cover it up or ignore or deny it and blame their intimate partner.
Understanding the real issue
“I had an affair, and now he/she wants a divorce.” They think the affair is the issue, when it truly is not. I have worked with many couples facing infidelity and all of the lying and deceit that comes with that, and I can unequivocally say that when the underlying issue is addressed, the infidelity stops, the lying stops; the passion returns and after some work, the trust is back too.
Have you ever broken a bone? Medical science shows us that the process of healing a break in that bone actually causes the place of the break to be even stronger! The same is the case with an intimate relationship. Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
One of the very first things we work on when a couple comes to me with trust issues is realizing where the root of the issue came from-what decision did they make at some time in their past, and how can we change the decision to better serve them? When we finish the exercises used to overcome this issue, the couple can begin to return to their true roles in the relationship and focus on meeting each other’s needs in positive and joyful ways instead of in hurtful and destructive ways.
Changing unwanted behaviors together
Much as parents work with children to change unwanted behaviors, we as partners, should work with each other to change unwanted behaviors by building more of the wanted behaviors. If a spouse is cheating, it is almost always because he/she does not feel significant to the other partner. This can be for a multitude of reasons such as: in-laws and family interaction, young children, a career, friends, another outside interest or hobby, or many other reasons. When you truly get real with yourself and realize that the root of the issue lies within you, you are now armed with the knowledge and power to turn things around and to get back to a place even better than before (remember the broken bone).
Blaming another person for your situation, even when it is your intimate partner, is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It is completely disempowering and can only lead to more frustration, discourse, and disconnectedness, because you are giving someone else the power to determine your happiness, and that will never work. You have to own your part in the relationship, in the issues, and in the repair, and when each partner does this, then the true healing begins! If one or both of the partners refuse to take responsibility for their parts in the affair, then they can divorce, but they will never be in a truly happy, committed relationship, because they have not dealt with the real issue…THEMSELVES! They will repeat the same behaviors, attract the same issues, and be in the same situation, just with different partners.