If one partner is interested in going outside the relationship, well, you've kind of already lost something.
Its just how it is. If they have done something, you can try to repair the relationship, but its so much easier to move on. Indeed, it would depend on the relationship that the two of you have. Many times, its just not going to work. Why? Because people now a days are looking for the easy out, the least amount of effort and so, you will fail. Because as everyone knows, to get better, you have to want to. And once someone has had an affair and felt how pleasurable it can be, its hard to buckle down and maintain that old relationship, even if you think, you want to.
You see, you have to deal with the baggage and dynamics of the old relationship and those are are very hard to change (cause and effect, how you treat one another, etc.).
So, how have I handled this situation over my own lifetime?
I have a semi unique situation. The first woman that had an affair on me, was the first woman ever to do that to me, she was in fact the first women ever to break up with me. I later realized how bad that was. Experience a break up as young as possible, high school is best. I was thirty at the time and we'd been together for about six years. I simply had no mechanism for handling it, and a year and a half after the break up, I had partied myself into near death. I had trouble climbing stairs, a cup of coffee felt like I was going to have a heart attack, it was bad.
Once I realized I did want to live and continue on, I stopped my behavior, rebuilt myself, and exercised daily; but sadly, I had decided to be with a new woman, who was just as self destructive to me (and her) as I had been to myself. She in part, had helped me have a thirst for life again, to make me smile again. But she pushed me into getting married (she proposed, then I did what I thought was "right" (proposing to her), plus I felt she made me smile again and so I "owed" her (stupid stupid stupid)). In hindsight, perhaps, I should have merely thanked her, and walked off. But I did what I thought was the morally correct thing to do.
Interesting how you can do what is "right" and later realize that the best thing for all, would have been to be the cad. I had toled her about my previous relationship and had asked her, if she ever wanted to leave, just do it, don't put me through such a "common" thing as having an affair. As it turned out, she was quite "common" in her behavior.
When I was finally ready to walk, about to ask for a divorce, she said she was pregnant, which I thought, wasn't going to happen. She did this, by not telling me that she stopped taking the pill for two months. And this right after we had discussed and agreed, to not have kids until we got out of debt and even had at least $100 in the bank.
Again, I tried to do what was right, and stay because I didn't want my child to go through the life I had to live through in childhood. In the end, there was nothing I could do to avoid that. Eventually, she said she thought I was boring because I was trying then to grow up and build a family, to get our finances under control, etc., so she had an affair with a guy she thought was, "exciting". Eventually, she dumped him, because he wanted to get married. Pretty ironic, don't you think? It goes back to the "good guys finish last" thought. Had I been more of a not good guy, my life would have been a lot better at many crossroads.
Several of my long term relationships were with women who were bi. For obvious reasons perhaps, I didn't have a problem with them having a relationship with a woman, as long as it was all above board, ethical, friendly and positive. We had rules. That part of the relationship, seemed to work fine.
But in the end, two of them ran off to have an affair with a guy. At least the first one, ended up marrying the guy, which took some of the sting out of it, as I did want the best for her. They had two kids, then he died in bed. She remarried and had another child and is pretty well set for life financially.
My most desired relationship (not one of those already mentioned), involved a break up that in some ways, had nothing much to do with me, really. She ended it for reasons I won't get into but had nothing to do with her relationships with women or really, myself, in many ways. Of course, sometimes when there are reasons that have nothing to do with you, they have everything to do with you.
These women were all very confused emotionally, and needed a lot more growing up. My fault, I suppose for not choosing partners that were more mature, more intellectually stable. For following my heart (or something else) rather than my head, or at least listening to my head and giving it some credence.
This last woman, I thought, had a lot of class, and so we ended things without others being involved. Yes, I do know that's true, trust me, I checked. I still have a lot of affection for her, in many ways. And she is still confused emotionally and has a new child. I assume that child too will have problems but there is nothing I can do about that. She is her parent's problem now. And I feel badly about that.
From Steven D. Solomon, Ph.D. and Lorie J. Teagno, Ph.D.:
"Reports have said that 60-75% of couples who have experienced a betrayal stay together. However, this does not mean that these couples can heal their relationships and regain trust and commitment to each other. In such cases, many couples stay together after one or more infidelities not because they're happy together but because they're afraid of the alternative. They're afraid of being single, the impact of divorce on their kids, the financial implications, etc.
"But after the 25 years that each of us has worked in helping couples, we can say that those who commit to the hard work of dealing with the devastation of infidelity, and to being a partner who owns his or her weaknesses and mistakes, have an excellent chance of not only staying together but of coming out of the process with a strong, happy, and more fulfilling Long Term Love Relationship. A strong majority of couples in which both partners make such a commitment end up staying together because they're happy together."
Okay. Well, consider, their group of people are those who have come to them for help. How many haven't come to them for help? Kind of skews their stats, don't you think?
"Here are some infidelity statistics based on a survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago:
- 25 percent of men have had extramarital affairs
- 17 percent of women committed adultery
- Only 35 percent of unions survive an extramarital affair.
- 65 percent of marriages break up because of adultery
"The study also revealed that the people whose sexual histories included more risky situations or had cheated on a partner before were more likely to lie to get what they wanted.
"Propelled by self-interest, people tend to lie outright when asked by potential partners about their sexual past."
All I have asked of any partner is that if you want to end a relationship with me, do it. Don't act like a child and begin another relationship before ending your initial one. If you do that, you have my undying respect. And, if you are smart enough, you can understand that you have respect for yourself. If you don't do it, you need help, you are immature, your self esteem is incredibly low and you are living a way of life that is going to lead to bad things. For you, not for me.
In the end, if you find your spouse is having an affair, you have a lot to think about. Evaluate the relationship. If you have no children, its much easier to decide to walk. If you have kids, you have to take them more into consideration than yourself. In the end, you may find that the best thing is, to break up. Kids are experts at reading subtext, so don't think you can talk derisively to your partner and not have the kids pick up on it and yes, it will damage them.
Consider carefully when you split up. But don't stay, if its only going to make all involved suffer. And if you don't have kids, you have the luxury of taking a hike. Do not rationalize that you are going to stay or make it work for your partner, do something for yourself at this time; they did. And maybe, they aren't your partner any longer. You also have to ask yourself, will we be going through this again? And chances are, if you stay together, the answer is, yes.
There are no easy answers. But there is, trying hard to go through the situation with your eyes open. Therapy helps (for you, even consider, getting two therapists, one for the relationship and one for you). Typically by the time you seek therapy for your relationship, it's too late. So get it sooner than later. Everyone should see a therapist once in a while, just like a check up for your car. Tweak things ahead of time, not after things are broken.
If you find you are in this situation, remember one thing. Build your self esteem. Or if you have plenty, fine tune it. Do things for yourself. Prepare for being single. Don't grab onto the relationship like a drowning swimmer. Sometimes, that alone can save a relationship, if you still want to.