Often times couples find themselves in situations where everyone has all the answers to their problems, but they don’t hand out any manuals. Without the manual it’s really hard to ever quite understand how to follow someone’s advice. Imagine if you’re problem was finding a place to live, and your friend told you, “Here’s what you should do…build a house.” That advice makes perfect sense, but it means nothing if they don’t tell you how to build a house. Moreover, what does that advice mean if your friend is homeless? That’s how I see problems in relationships.
“Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it.” – S. Carter.
Take for example, pregnancy. Everyone can tell you what they would do if they found out they were pregnant, but nobody but you has to live with that baby. What about domestic violence? Every woman is quick to say you should leave him, but what are you supposed to do when your heart tells you to stay and forgive? And lastly, when your significant other cheats on you, what should you do? Everyone says leave, but when your heart tells you to stay and forgive what do you do?
A lot of couples are able to work through cheating through therapy. There are life changes that must be made, but I’ve seen it work when both parties in a relationship were dedicated to making the relationship work. In my opinion, it’s because not all cheating is the same. Cheating is cheating, I do not doubt that, but what I’m saying is that there’s always a reason for why anything happens. Identifying the reason why someone chooses to be unfaithful can sometimes let you know whether it’s possible to reconcile and continue in the relationship.
Cheating is different at all stages of your life and relationship. When you think about cheating in high school, it wasn’t that big of a deal because relationships only last a couple of weeks, an advisory if you were lucky. Most people blame cheating in college on “hey, it’s college.” When you leave college things are a little different. The way you deal with cheating changes. Most unmarried couples will most likely call it quits if they haven’t been together for a year before their partner is double dipping. It becomes increasingly more complicated for married couples once children and finances are involved, the decision to split over infidelity isn’t so simple.
After twenty years of marriage and three kids a woman may step outside of her marriage to find excitement in life because the passion is gone. Dissolving that marriage can lead to a long legal process of settling two estates and not to mention a custody battle that can drag on for years. Or the couple may choose counseling to identify why the woman cheated and ways to prevent it from happening again. Can a man be man enough to put away his pride to save his family?
Are all mistakes created equal? Are some sins unforgivable? Some of us take our vows at the altar of a church, are you as forgiving as your God? When does cheating go from being a mistake to being a pattern? Does anyone really believe that someone can be addicted to sex? What about an eye for an eye? Does it balance the scale if you are allowed one night of infidelity too?
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I always recommend that couples write down all the things that their relationship means to them. What it gives them and what they give in their relationship is important. Write down what makes a relationship and write down what breaks a relationship. When you get to a topic like cheating, you have to ask yourself, “Is it worth giving it all up over cheating?” If a relationship is a body, and sex is like a leg, should I kill myself because I broke my leg? I’m just putting it out there, but to some couples cheating may be the heart. Some people view cheating as a violation of trust and others view it as sex. Each couple has to make that decision for themselves.
The only thing I would advise couples against is making decisions too quickly. Relationships take years to grow and develop, a one night stand lasts just a few short minutes. Deciding to call it quits because someone cheated may feel like the right thing to do at the time. But in the long run, you’re going to have to resolve those feelings of pain and hurt of being cheated on anyway. Choose carefully if you want to do that alone, know that when you’re done you’ll have to deal with the pain of losing a partner too. I see people make the wrong decision all the time because of pride and ego, they end up unhappy and bitter. They end up alone.