The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter
Everything you need to live well

How To Deal With Cheating

Q:

My husband is having an affair and it is not his first. I mean, the fact that I stayed with him even after finding him in our matrimonial bed with the housekeeper must say a lot about me.

My wonderful husband has cheated on me with his ex, his assistant, the neighbour’s sister, my personal trainer, my friends and, as I mentioned, the housekeeper. Each time, he says he’s sorry, it was a mistake, it was not going to happen again, but it always does, and I always stay, taking in the empty promises. I’m an educated, working woman. I am not financially tied to him and we are yet to have children. How can I trust him to be a good father when he is barely being a husband?

I’m writing this because I’m scared of what people will think, of what they will say and how they will treat me. I am not happy in my marriage and I don’t know if there is a point of ending this marriage to meet another guy who would do the same to me or be alone for the rest of my life. What should I do?

– Lolade, Lagos.

A:

Dear Lolade,

Affairs usually stem from problems at home. However, although you may play into the marital problems, you are never to blame for the affairs. He made a choice to break the vows he made to you and cannot blame you for his actions. Men habitually separate their infidelity from problems at home, so he may not even be aware of what is leading him to ‘look’ outside your marriage.

After the discovery of an affair, you naturally need time and space to process the betrayal. You’ll need a support system of trusted friends and/or family members to listen and help you get through this as sanely as possible.

Should you decide to stay, it is important that you get professional help as a couple and as individuals. Serial cheating is harder to resolve than one-time affairs, however, change is possible but difficult. It can be looked at and treated like an addiction. More importantly, he will need to understand that he has to regain your trust.

On your end, you will need to seek help to resolve your trust, unresolved relationship and sexual issues. The aftermath of discovering an affair (some describe it as having PTSD symptoms, with long-term repeat affairs and a toll on your mental health, confidence and self-esteem) can have long-term effects. This is why it is important to forgive, not for his peace of mind but yours.

Working towards forgiveness does not mean you forget or are immediately trusting; it is about letting go of the negative feeling hurting you more than it could ever hurt your husband. So, forgive but be wise in your future with your husband should you choose to stay.

On the other hand, should you choose to end the marriage, take your time before going into a new relationship. Lay out your ‘hard lines’ as soon as you can so your partner knows that it cannot go any further if there is no trust or total fidelity. Ultimately, you do not need a relationship to be happy. As you said, you are educated and financially independent with the world at your feet. It is important while healing from betrayals to ensure that you do not forget yourself. Treat yourself and take care of your health, both mental and physical.

Wishing you the very best.


Related