What to do in this worrisome situation
Especially in this age of cell phones and constant social media use, cheating is a leading cause of divorce. If you suspect your partner’s been unfaithful, family law attorney Natalie Gregg suggests you ask yourself a few important questions:
1. Has it happened before?
Chances are it will happen again. The old aphorism “once a cheat always a cheat” unfortunately is a saying for a reason-it rings true. Cheating is a symptom of a much larger problem. The spouse didn’t feel special or appreciated. Sometimes, the cheating was a convenient and attractive distraction from the mundane rigmarole that is parenting, paying the bills and snoring in cotton pajamas next to your mate. While feeling ignored and bored is a sympathetic cause, serial cheating will not solve the problem. If this is the second or third time, you may want to leave. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a strange episode of “Groundhog Day.”
2. How did you find out?
If you discovered the indiscretions by scrolling down the recent calls of your partner’s cellphone, or you read e-mails from a mysterious co-worker that didn’t exactly involve anything work-related, your spouse is caught mid-affair red-handed. Ask yourself…were they ever planning on telling you? You know the sad and unfortunate answer. It is a little harder to forgive and forget when your partner was forced into confession. Or worse yet, can you really move past this marital discord when your husband or wife tries to rationalize or deny the offending evidence of an affair and proceeds with business as usual?
3. Are children involved?
Children should never be the only reason that you stay in a marriage or a relationship. However, when mommy and daddy have 10 years of fidelity and the bonds of a family with children, the answer to dealing with a cheating partner is much more complex. You are not only ending a relationship with your spouse when you leave, you are ending the happy image of mommy and daddy together. Still, if the image is truly just that, a fake Hollywood front for the children to go through their golden early childhood years, then maybe you should leave. Before leaving, seek a family therapist, counselor or pastor to discuss if there is anything worth salvaging. For some, cheating is a non-negotiable and no explanation or psycho-babble interpretation will suffice- their boots were made for walking.
4. Are you staying for the right reasons?
Money is not the right reason. Easier said than done, but if you are in this relationship to be on the payroll of the other partner, you probably should consult an attorney as soon as you are done reading this. I know that in an era when financial portfolios are mere shadows of their former selves and inflation has made grocery shopping nauseating, it is hard to imagine life on your own. Be brave, cut the tie and start brainstorming what your marketable skills are.
Everyone has a line which, once crossed, makes it all but impossible to return to a healthy relationship, and the law recognizes that fact. Divorce means deciding it’s time for a major change in your life, but sometimes that’s just what you have to do.