How Do I Stay With a Cheating Spouse?

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(Image: Ethan Lofton)

“Hi Celes, how do I stay with a dishonest and cheating spouse?” — Arti

Hi Arti, if your spouse has cheated / is cheating on you, I don’t think the question is how to stay with him/her — it’s about what to do with the relationship.

Now I’m not married and I’ve not been married before (I’ll only marry when I find the right person for me, and even then I don’t see marriage to be of extremely high importance in life — at least not the level that society tends to assign to it. I think it’s more important to be with the right person than to marry for the sake of marrying), so perhaps I’m not the best person to comment in this area.

(Update 2014: This post was published in 2011 and I’ve since gotten married, and my views stay the same.)

But it figures that if someone is cheating, the person has already breached the trust in the relationship. The original confines of the relationship, whatever they were, no longer hold true. This includes staying on in the relationship for the other party.

The question comes to — Is he/she repentant for his/her actions? Is he/she going to change his/her ways?

If so, then it’s up to you on whether you are willing to remain with him/her, in spite of the infidelity. Since trust has been breached, it’s a delicate situation to be in. Your partner has to understand that (a) things are not going to be the same as before, at least not for now (b) he/she needs to take the necessary steps to rebuild your trust in him/her and the relationship, before anything else can happen.

If he/she is not repentant for his/her actions, and/or he/she is still committing the infidelity, then it’s clear where he/she stands. He/she obviously does not respect you as an individual, nor the relationship itself. It’s then a matter of what you can do to exit the relationship, vis-a-vis remaining in it, because otherwise you’re just doing yourself a disfavor. You don’t need such treatment from someone else. You deserve better.

How about kids, if you have them? Many people stay on in relationships, for the sake of their children — even though they are no longer in love with each other, or even though the other partner has committed infidelity.

I don’t think there’s a one set answer for such a situation, because it’s honestly up to both individuals and what they deem as the best arrangement.

For me personally, I don’t think one should remain in a relationship where there is no love (or even trust), in the name of giving their kids a proper upbringing. Because I think it’s more detrimental than positive for both parents and children in the long run.

Where two people remain in a relationship despite not loving each other anymore, it stifles both parties and makes them miserable. As much as either of them try to suppress their unhappiness, such negative energy will ripple out towards everything they do — be it their careers, their health, their friendships, their family — as well as their relationships with their children.

When the children grow up in such a stifling household, it’ll inadvertently affect them too. For these children, not only are they surrounded by negativity, they don’t have the best role models to refer to. Someone who lives by oppressing his/her desires isn’t connected with his/her source, and as such isn’t living the best life he/she can live.

I know people who grew up in families where their parents remained in the relationship despite not wanting to be together anymore, and it resulted in a lot of unhappiness and conflicts growing up. Many of these incidences became embedded as subconscious issues, which affect them even today, be it in terms of issues of trust with others or skepticism of relationships as a whole.

Whether or not kids or other people are involved, it’s about working out an optimal solution that benefits everyone — both the parents and the children — at the end of the day.

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