Can Marriage Counselling Help Deal With A Cheating Partner?

Posted: April 26, 2012

I woke up, with a phone call in the middle of the night, “Can you come to my place right away” spoke my friend from the other end. I tried to get myself together, and asked her “What happened is everything ok?  Are you fine?  “Will talk once you are here “she said in a hurried voice and hung up.

I had no idea to what had happened and anticipating that it could take me a bit long to return; I woke my husband and informed him about the situation. As the friend’s house was only 3 blocks away, I told him that it would be ok; I would drive down and declined his help to drive me over.

On the silent road, with thousands of questions running in my mind, I reached her house, to find she was packing her stuff. I was totally startled, her husband was trying to tell her that they can work it out, but she seemed to have made up her mind.
My friend informed me, she was moving out, she cannot stay with her husband anymore! She needed my support, for few days till she gathered that courage to tell her parents.  It was very clear, that she wanted to end the relationship, their marriage; the obvious reason, her husband was having an extra marital affair.

Me being no professional marriage counselor, tried to handle the situation, but I guess it was not  leading to any solution. Understanding that when you come to know that you’re husband has an affair, your whole world, the life you knew is all falling apart. I thought the best thing would be to bring her to my place and that’s what I did.

With utter silence in the car we reached my place. Finally she broke in to tears; “I agree our marriage was going through a rough patch “she said. But “He broke my trust and faith!“ And I was speechless.  I had known them as a couple for years now, and they were so much compatible or should I say “Made for each other types”.

I struggled with this question for so long, sitting aimlessly in front of the T.V. How and why had such a thing happened? I could not imagine how a person could supposedly love someone and then turn around and cheat on them, it just did not make sense to me .Not to forget how much pain, confusion, frustration, and overwhelming sense of betrayal my friend was going through.

I agree sometimes couples do fall out of love and grow to dislike each other, or they are having a troubled marriage  where they remain husband and wife in theory and these types of marriage certainly lead spouses to seek comfort of another adult, who looks like they would be a better partner. Lure of seeking solace in another becomes tempting at that point in life.

It’s common for men or women to state, “ I have no idea how this happened” yet an affair is just not a one night stands, but planned rendezvous. My friend’s husband was not different, he was not really sorry that he cheated, but more sorry that he was caught.

This might be true for some, but I believe that most of us are always sorry for our actions and would do anything to take it back. Unfortunately turning the clock back is just impossible.

The situation here is tricky for my friend and actions unknown, but yet there is some hope, some actions which can bridge the fissure that has been created.

Some things our partners do may nip and hurt us badly. But in the long run, the best thing to do is move forward, we need to be willing to forgive and forget. Agreed, that is not always an easy thing to do.

I believe Forgiveness is the personal choice, a choice to give up resentment and right to punish the person for what they have done, but it definitely does not mean to allow the person to continuously hurt .While Forgetting is a long process, whatever has happened gets stored in the memory bank, and the same will get erased only with time. Eventually if you don’t let the thoughts dwell, the memory will return less often. Gradually move forward to a constructive and a healthy life.

My friend here has two choices, either to Stay or Leave and she is the only one who can decide the answer to that. Will she forget or forgive or simply continue to dredge up the past  will be her choice. It’s a decision which is not easy for anyone neither would be for her .

My suggestion to my friend and all those women (who are in such situation) would be, use the affair as a wake-up call as to what was wrong and could be improved in the marriage. Divorces are not the solution, but forget and forgiving the spouse is the key to help them overcome their guilt and start afresh. I understand one might feel it’s almost impossible to trust and love once again , but with work, an open heart and both spouses being committed to do what is needed , a marriage can not only survive an affair but can be stronger as a result.

I got up with these thoughts, where I was going to tell my friend to forgive, forget and let it go, give her marriage one more chance.

As I looked outside the window between the clouds, there lit a fabulous warm light as the rising sun announced the coming of a new day!  A new beginning!

Photo credit: wolfsoul (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)

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23 Comments


  1. Somehow this post made me rather uncomfortable. Not that I believe one should never forgive, but I think it is a decision only the affected person can really take. I don’t think a friend should be advising them to forgive.

    Also, isn’t there a gender aspect here? Would a man whose wife was cheating, be asked to forgive so easily? For years, women have put up with cheating husbands for many reasons – including being told to “for the good of the kids” and often, for financial reasons – or because they have nowhere to go. Finally now, women have the option to take their own decisions (in many cases) and I don’t think it is right to tell them to forgive – let them figure it out.

    • shazneen

      Completely agree that I am no one to give advice to one or any (may it is my friend).

      What I have depicted is a situation my friend is in and she happens to be women. That for sure does not mean, that women do not cheat and completely adhere to the marriage vows .They do cheat their husbands.

      Today, the society is facing the problem of infidelity and adultery, and I don’t deny that it causes only pain, hurt, and emotional trauma to the partner.

      I have mentioned here that forgiveness is a personal choice, and have also mentioned that what decision she will take would be totally her own. When I say advice, what I mean is, try and save the marriage through counseling or try to deal with it themselves.

      To sit down, talk it out and see if they can repair the damage.

      I am not defending infidelity , but it does not mean that wayward spouse cannot change and turn their life around either. Reality is people err, make mistakes and do things that are not appropriate , but some do learn from such mistakes also and become better marriage partners.

  2. Hip Grandma

    Society has looked upon a cheating husband with a certain amount of indulgence and has expected his wife to forgive him for long enough. In fact till about 50 years back having a mistress/ visiting brothels etc. was considered a status symbol and the wife accepted it as her fate. Education and financial independence has enabled women to protest and they no longer want to put up with a husband’s philandering habit.

    Forgiving a cheating husband is not easy. Even women who tolerate the behavior out of social compulsions may have resigned to her fate but may never have forgiven him.

    If it were possible to forgive him and give him a chance to mend his ways it would be great. However, once bitten twice shy, she may not be able to trust him the way she did.

  3. I do not agree with the author at all. And it makes absolutely no sense to say that divorce is not the solution.Each case is different and adultery is not something that can be quickly forgiven. Once the trust is broken, it is very hard to mend it.

    The gender aspect should also be considered. Will a husband forgive his wife and continue living like nothing happened. I doubt it.

    • shazneen

      Dear BB,

      I don’t say that only men are the more prone or get involved into adultery or affairs. There are lots of women , who do the same thing.

      Which ever the gender, but do you feel divorce is the only solution ? Is divorce not a traumatic process?

      As I said that Adultery is the hot topic, and each of us have our own opinion towards it .

    • Why divorce has to be traumatic? Should nt it be a normal phase of live. Are u cheating on me. Well let us not meet anymore. i hate how much a person has to go through when it is not really his/her mistake. I really hate it. I guess only going through it and trying to work out is the most painful thing in the world. And i dont know what it is worth for. When my friend decides to call off a marriage, i completely support it.

  4. Forgiving and forgetting may not be the solution here. In fact, I am certain it isn’t. If the husband really wants to work it out, he should suggest couples counseling and ask his wife to accompany him. By suggesting that she forgive and forget to give her marriage a chance, you are implying that her hurt feelings don’t matter at all. She needs validation for the hurt and betrayal she is feeling, her husband needs to explain his actions and they both need to work VERY HARD at getting back to the previous trust levels, which might or might not happen.

    By saying “forgive and forget” to a person who has been cheated upon by his or her spouse, we essentially belittle their emotions and their self-worth.

    You are placing the onus of repairing the relationship on your friend. I think it is VERY unfair. The onus should be on her husband, not her.

  5. Hey. Guys !

    I feel here the idea is not that the friend is advising to forgive & forget …

    I think this means give 1 more chance .. Try to start a dialogue & resolve .. It’s v easy to break the relationship .. But v hard to maintain it or even patch up with some 1 who had cheated & willing to change

  6. shazneen

    Completely agree that I am no one to give advice to one or any (may it is my friend).

    What I have depicted is a situation my friend is in and she happens to be women. That for sure does not mean, that women do not cheat and completely adhere to the marriage vows .They do cheat their husbands.

    Today, the society is facing the problem of infidelity and adultery, and I don’t deny that it causes only pain, hurt, and emotional trauma to the partner.

    I have mentioned here that forgiveness is a personal choice, and have also mentioned that what decision she will take would be totally her own. When I say advice, what I mean is, try and save the marriage through counseling or try to deal with it themselves.

    To sit down, talk it out and see if they can repair the damage.

    I am not defending infidelity , but it does not mean that wayward spouse cannot change and turn their life around either. Reality is people err, make mistakes and do things that are not appropriate , but some do learn from such mistakes also and become better marriage partners.

  7. I am able to appreciate the feel of the article. Adultery is indeed painful. And there are different ways in which it manifests and sometimes for different reasons, rather than just for the sake of it.

    In some cases, the husband considers it his birth right to visit brothels and have one night stands and a wife, who is completely dependent on him, may choose to ignore, rather than forgive. Maybe, in her case, that does seem to be the strategic choice.

    But, in families where wives are indeed financially independent, I am sure that there are husbands and wives who cheat. I cant make a comment on whether it is as common among women as it is among men.
    But, I just wanted to say that there are husbands who have “forgiven” as well.

    In fact, I am not sure, if “forgiven” is always the right word, even. In this comments section, I see that adultery is considered to be this evil, calculative act of cruelty that a spouse commits against another. Our law does seem to consider adultery as a crime, so no wonder. But I am not sure, if that’s how it always play out. And that is why there is scope for negotiation and forgiveness.

    Many of you might have seen the movie “Astitva” starring Tabu. Did we not feel sorry for Tabu and her loneliness? Is it even possible that the husband can try to understand what even happened?
    I am not sure, if such things happen to men, but I know of such acts of adultery that women commit at a time of crisis. Not that it is any less cruel towards the husband. But there are some men, who are able to see past those moments too.
    But I do agree that the decision to forgive or not, is upto the husband and the wife and the situation at hand. It is inappropriate to make a judgment for the wife or the husband. I also agree, that the same society that asks the wife to forgive may not even consider that for the husband. Such, gender differences, do exist sadly. Although, I am not sure, if the author meant it, that way. So, in that respect, even if the author did not mean it, I would think it very important to add such a statement in the article.

    Then, there are men and women who question the notion of family itself and get into an open relationship. In those relationships, they don’t think that feeling attracted to other people while being in love with one person, is a big offense. Of course, in those cases, the relationship by itself is built on that understanding. So, there is no betrayal, happening, anyways.

  8. Parag Padrakar -

    hi,

    i agree to what you have to say, that forgiving and giving a chance to once married life is the better solution than separating. Specially when you have kids also , who are the ultimate sufferer.

  9. CP

    I don’t know whether forgiving really helps when you come to know that the man you shared your life and dreams with is sharing his with some one else.

  10. If the author had intended that by “forgive and forget”, she meant that the couple should go for marriage counselling, then, the title of the article itself should be different. Here, the implication is that the wife should (ideally) try to move on..by “forgiving” the wayward spouse..Note that the author also mentions that the husband did not regret cheating but only regretted that he got caught!
    Anyways, it s all upto the couple. Because, no one knows what was happening b/w them.
    @ Preethi.. Agree that adultery should not be considered a “crime” considering one cannot fully know what was happening b/w couples. But, it should still be made illegal; cos, its going against a promised commitment.

  11. Sandeep Bhogra -

    In an institution of marriage, commitment and trust on each other is very important. It is really traumatic when your spouse cheats on you and it takes a great deal of time to build up that trust again and most cases its impossible. The couple may compromise and continue but deep down there is a feeling that you have been cheated.

    But contrary to this, seeing the picture on a larger perspective one has to take a decision. If there are children in the family..they are the ones to suffer the most because by the end of the day, they need both the parents. Let the things be, give it a time..time is the biggest healing factor and put your emotions on a back seat. If one marriage is a mistake other can be a blunder. Let your spouse learn one more lesson..liberate yourself from possessiveness and free your mind, look towards emotional well being. The feeling of sacrifice for the sake of children shall give you pleasure n inner strength. Then only with a cool mind you shall resolve the situation in a better way.

    “When you want butterflies to sit on you, all you have to do is stay still”

    Save the marriage as far as possible.

  12. I have noticed there are some men who are guilty of ‘being caught’ and not guilty of ‘cheating’. When the wife has fogiven and forgotten, they are back to their old ways.

    I agree that one is belittling oneself when one is asked to ‘forgive and forget’ for the sake of saving the marriage.
    Was it really a marriage to begin with???

  13. A woman may forget and forgive her husband with her broad mind for his cheating. But man is not so since he is not so broad-minded as her.

  14. Nice story. Author is using this site to showcase her writing skills. This never happened.

  15. So I would urge the victim (male/female) whoever is affected to “listen to & gauge” their inner voice and deeply think over as to what sounds/appears RIGHT to them and most importantly STICK to it. Whether you walk out/stay in is a personal choice but one should continue to live with NO REGRETS thereafter. Whatsoever be the decision, there should be a sound reasoning, acceptance and thereafter no looking back!

  16. I just read this somewhere ….”The person is more important than his/her actions”. So I strongly believe, it’s you inner voice that would tell you whether it’s really worth it to give this person (male/female) another chance OR you seriously doubt that it will all go in vain. If ever there is a slight scope of “improvement”, I feel one should not be very stringent. Imagine what all mistakes have we made during our childhood, what all we dislike about our parents, how sometimes our close friends would hurt us, how we feel let down by our colleagues…… how do we cope during such situations? What makes us STAY and CONTINUE during such scenarios? Ever wondered? It’s only because of the intimacy that we share with our spouse and the feeling of possessiveness that clouds our mind and doesn’t allow us to “let go/forgive” so easily. Friends, I have had my share of such unpleasant situation in life with my partner and hence this topic is not alien to me. Although I completely agree to the fact that it’s disheartening, painful and awful when it was experienced, but I was able to win over and get everything on track and sustain, this in turn has made me stronger. It was purely my choice to do so and I felt it was worth it, had I not, I wouldn’t have given it a try. This becomes easier when you know your partner is guilty (to err is human) and ready to mend. I know this would trigger sparks and people may question, if my partner would have done the same. Well, I never felt the need to cheat or say try something adventurous and probably the day I do so (if at all), I think I should be worrying about this question whenever it takes place and not now. If the focus is on me, this is what I would behave like…
    So I would urge the victim (male/female) whoever is affected to “listen to & gauge” their inner voice and deeply think over as to what sounds/appears RIGHT to them and most importantly STICK to it. Whether you walk out/stay in is a personal choice but one should continue to live with NO REGRETS thereafter. Whatsoever be the decision, there should be a sound reasoning, acceptance and thereafter no looking back!

  17. Women are cheating all over the place, nowadays!

    My latest book, “I Steal Wives: A serial adulterer reveals the REAL reasons more and more ‘happily married’ women are cheating” is a powerful look at this EXPLOSIVE topic of female infidelity. Research shows its not only on the rise, but rivals or EXCEEDS that of male cheating. And the REAL reasons aren’t the typical blather you hear on talk-TV or read in the SECOND-HAND information of some psychologist’s self-help book.

    This book is the FIRST BOOK EVER WRITTEN on female infidelity from the FIRST-HAND experience of a serial adulterer, who cheated with the wives/girlfriends of over 25 married men (and a few women), and who also happens to be a therapist (never cheated with clients) and has an eye for patterns in behavior, but more importantly, the core beliefs that drive behavior! The deep and powerful insights of this book will startle women and scare the holy hell out of men! And here’s a tip: Cheating always, always, always boils down to the exact same reason at the core: FEAR!

    “I Steal Wives” is a salacious, self-deprecating, at times funny, and penetratingly insightful look into what is now the very cutting-edge of relationships. It’s the relationship version of “How to Secure Your House, as told by a professional burglar!” It will forever change how you do relationships and view life!

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  18. i think the man has stop the affair first before his wife can forgive him

  19. Pingback: Can You Heal After Infidelity in A Relationship? - masalamommas.com

  20. Wonderful article..!! i could relate it one of my fnd’s story who loved/trusted sincerely and he did too…but all of a sudden he has withdrawn saying that it isnt working out between the relation!!!(He fell in love with his ex-love) Which left her broken and felt cheated/humiliated…Whenever she faces him she use to feel ditched and depressed.Finally she wanted to give it a time and moved out of the relation and sustained this breakup by “Forgive him for her own good and forget it with the time…” I am happy that she took the decision,infact i could say she is happier than before as she did free herself from a disloyal,untrustworthy person who doesnt deserve her care/love..she took this decision as he isnt ready to realise his mistake… hence she thought it is good to be away than staying together and getting hurt with his behaviour everyday…

    Its different in each relation as it depends on the level of relationship/trust levels were hurt between the people…I feel if partner realises and wanted to set everything right back should give it a try by giving one last chance for their relation.. but if partner(he/she) isnt sorry to other instead continue to hurt further then trust can no more sustain between the couple and there is no point in staying together(though if they compramise for kids,everyday issues between couple would affect kids mental growth more instead divorcing and explain to them at later stages works in such cases).

    Its just my take/opinion..But its individual’s choice on what to decide at these sensitive situations.

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