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Discovering your partner has been unfaithful is a shock. Your first instinct may be to run, but if you have a shared history, children and finances, you may wonder – should you stay or go?
Dr. Romance shows you how to decide.
When you get the devastating news that your spouse has had an affair, how do you decide whether to stay or go? Because you feel betrayed, your first impulse is usually anger, and wanting to leave – fight or flight. But, after you calm down, you realize there’s a lot you’ll lose, and you may have children to consider.
Don’t make an instant decision you may regret later, after the damage is done. It’s possible to find an extraordinary love after divorcing late in life, but most of my clients report the potential partners out there are no better than the ones they left.
While I don't think you should stay and suffer if nothing’s working, in my practice I see many couples who do the work and wind up happier than before. The affair may have happened after long-standing problems in the marriage, which can actually be corrected to the satisfaction of both partners. Often dissatisfaction grows from resentment, and the root causes can be fixed with the help of counseling.
If both partners are willing to change what’s not working, a marriage can be improved can be turned into a satisfying life of enjoyable companionship.
I also see a fair number of couples who get back together after a divorce, because they had a chance to see what it’s like to be alone, and to calm down and get over petty resentments. Unfortunately, now they’re a lot poorer because of the costs of the divorce, dividing up property, and so on. Here are some reasons to stay or go:
Top 5 reasons to stay:
*Your spouse truly recognizes he or she has a problem, and is willing to get help to fix it, and to be accountable for rebuilding trust.
*You two are going to counseling, and understanding why the affair happened, and how to fix the problems.
*You're getting your own sex life back on track, if it was off track.
*You still love each other, and it's clearly mutual.
Top 5 reasons to go:
*Your spouse is in denial, makes excuses, and blames you. This means he or she is invested in the cheating behavior, and not ready to change.
*You have had it, no longer feel connected, and are not willing to work on it. Be sure this isn't just temporary anger.
*You are prepared to be on your own.
*You either have no children, they're grown, or you're certain a divorce will be better for them than what's going on.
*Your spouse refuses to give up the other relationship, or infidelity in general.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., "Dr. Romance," is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again and Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina email newsletter, and the Dr. Romance Blog. She has written for and been interviewed in many national publications, and she has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live and many other TV and radio shows.