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Dear Betsy: Should I forgive my cheating husband?

This problem was sent in by B. Murphy from Wexford, Ireland.

My husband recently told me that he cheated on me. We’ve been married for 3 years and we don’t have any kids. I don’t want to start dating all over again but I don’t know if I can forgive him. What should I do?

This is such a common but tricky situation to be in. When the person you love most in the world betrays you in the worst possible way, it’s so hard to know what to do.

I asked my Instagram followers to comment on this one so I’m going to share their feedback and then give my opinion at the end.

Yes.

“I have, but it’s complicated. In my instance, it revealed a pattern. And while I truly am able to see the underlying issues causing the pattern, there have been things that will never fully be healed/ restored in the relationship. It’s like scars. He gets overwhelmed and shuts down. Once things (normal adult streamers magnified by the pressure cooker he becomes) begin to blow, he seeks out female friendship. Someone who isn’t part of all the magnified problems. It begins as a friendship and then becomes a full on committed relationship. It took years to learn this is what happens. Now we know (and he is able to see it) I can hope it won’t continue. When we know better, we do better. But that’s in him. Layers of a life with someone and loving their brokenness unconditionally means it takes work. Relationships take work. As long as he is willing to keep himself in check – it’s worth it.”

No.

“I could never. Once a cheater, always a cheater. If they did it once, what’s stopping them from doing it again. Once they do it once, they don’t really care about you. It’s a conscious decision to cheat on someone. I don’t see how you can ‘accidentally’ cheat. I know anyone CAN cheat, it’s whether they do or don’t. I CAN rob a bank, I CAN steal a car, but that doesn’t mean I will. I like to live in the mindset of ‘what if’. Something made them feel the need to do that and act on it, so what if they say they won’t do it again but end up getting the urge? I couldn’t trust a bank robber even if they said they won’t steal again for the same reason. The trust is broken and can’t be restored.”

Maybe.

“What’s stopping anybody? Some people make mistakes and realise it. So in my opinion anyone can cheat. The same as someone who has cheated it doesn’t mean they will always cheat again. Some change, some don’t, like a bank robber, they also can change. Just my thoughts.” Yes. “Yes, it’s not easy. It takes work. On both sides. And understanding. But most of all, love.”

Yes.

“You said those vows, for better or worse. You gotta accept the good with the bad. Make it last forever. People are too quick to split up these days.”

No.

“I did. Over and over again – until I’d had enough. I stayed for so many reasons. Familiarity. I knew him. He was my father’s children. Not wanting to start over. It wasn’t until I realised what I didn’t deserve that I mustered the courage to walk away. Now I think if they want to cheat, they should just leave. I’m worth more than that.”

Interesting opinions there. Please comment below with what you think.

What are your non-negotiables? If being faithful is a non-negotiable for you, then the decision has already been made. But if it’s not, then you have a few things to consider. Do you have something worth saving? If the answer is yes, are you both willing to work at it to make the marriage work? You’ll need to have a long conversation about this with your husband. Can you truly let it go and not hold it against him forever? You’ll have to make peace with it regardless of his words or actions in the future. Are you confident that it was a one-off and he won’t betray you again? If you can trust him again, then your relationship can work.

But if you don’t think the relationship is worth saving, if you can’t let it go and you can’t trust him, then your relationship isn’t going to work. You don’t have children so you aren’t bound to each other for life. If you do leave him, you can eventually find someone else when you’re ready, be treated with respect and be happy again. Take your time, weigh up the pros and cons and decide what is best for you.

Best of luck,

Betsy xoxo

7 thoughts on “Dear Betsy: Should I forgive my cheating husband?

  1. I’ve been in your shoes, just without the marriage part. Me and… let’s call him ‘Fred’ were together for 3 and a half years. After just over 2 he cheated. He was calling us both his ‘girlfriend’ to our faces, proclaiming love, you name it. When he got found out he was ‘the victim’. Oh, she manipulated me. She threatened to tell you if I stopped seeing her. I didn’t love her I let it go too far (I’ve since spoken to the girl when I finally felt strong enough who confirmed that he said all the same crap to her).
    I forgave him. But I could never forget that he had chosen someone else over me. I could never erase thoughts of him with her. Eventually I began to blame myself. What is she that I’m not? I checked her social media EVERY DAY. Sometimes more than once. I began to try and be more like her. I began to eat less, wear makeup more, run more. All things that I thought might have been the issue. I ended up mentally unwell and in need of therapy. Just over a year after I forgave him, he started acting the same again and blaming me because I was ‘too insecure’. I walked and I’ve never been happier. I’m still recovering from the scars over 3 years later and have to check myself when I can feel that my insecurities may affect my new, very happy relationship. I was never the problem, he was. Yet I was the one who ended up really unwell over it and trust me, it’s just not worth it.
    My advice to you is walk. You don’t have children and you WILL get over this. You will more than likely meet someone who will respect you and with your scars. Don’t let familiarity rule you. It gets easier really quickly. Just think: he didn’t respect you whilst he was out doing his thing. Give yourself the respect you deserve and allow yourself to be happy. Get the f*ck out of there and live life 🙂

    1. He treated you terribly. Some people would say there is a big difference between a one night stand and a full blown relationship. It sounds like you had low self-esteem if you blamed yourself. He played on your insecurities to make you stay with him. What was the reason that you stayed with him in the first place? Get the f@ck out of there is great advice!

  2. If it’s his first time, I think it’s worth saving the relationship. If not no no no that’s emotional trauma and where’s the trust in the relationship after that betrayal…

    1. Have you been in a similar situation?

  3. I just don’t know what to say, because I have been cheated on and I have cheated as well. But forgiveness is not something you do for others. It is something you do for yourself. Forgive, walk away, till you see reasons to be together again

    1. Why did you cheat and why did your partner cheat?

  4. Cheating is terrible and awful. However if things can be worked out, I don’t support divorce. I will say walk away when you’re facing domestic violence, or what I would call repetitive character, meaning it keeps happening. Please don’t fall for those statements of he cheats once, he will cheat again. Yes some men cheat once and then it becomes a habit while there are some that fell into circumstances they were not mature to handle or bold enough to tell their wives and hence are trapped in the cheating corner. Most importantly Pray about it to God. God can always restore the joy and love in relationships.

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