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Deciding to Stay or Go After Infidelity

by C. Giles

Infidelity is a deal-breaker for many people. According to a 2007 MSNBC.com survey, 19 percent of people who were betrayed by a partner ended the relationship immediately, while a further 22 percent split up at a later stage because they couldn't recover from the affair. However, this also means that almost 60 percent of relationships survive the aftermath of infidelity. Whether to stay or go after infidelity is a personal choice -- and not an easy one to make.

Don't Act on Impulse

Your gut reaction to your partner's betrayal may be to pack his bags, kick him out and change the locks. However, this is an occasion for a clear head and rational thought. Before you decide how to proceed, consider the consequences of your actions on any children of the relationship and your financial situation, advises licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle. If you need some time away from your partner, stay with a trusted friend or close family member for a couple of nights. Take time to process your emotions. Professional guidance (a certified counselor or marriage therapist) at this stage may help you to consider your options and reach a decision.

Repairing the Relationship

If a relationship has any chance of surviving after an affair, the issues that lead to the affair must be addressed. Your partner was wrong to cheat, whatever the circumstances were. Identify the reason for the betrayal (boredom, insecurity, emotional disconnection, lack of physical intimacy) and be honest with one another about how your respective behaviors may have contributed to the deterioration of the relationship, advises the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. It's not about allocating blame or airing old grievances, but about working together to find a solution and begin the process of reconnection.

Can You Trust Again?

Your relationship won't work if you don't rebuild the trust that was shattered by the infidelity. This is one of the most difficult tasks a couple may undertake, says Needle. As the injured party, you need to make it clear to your partner what you need from her to be able to trust again. She, in turn, has to take the appropriate steps to earn back your trust, says psychologist "Dr. Phil" McGraw, from checking in with you several times a day to being exactly where she should be at all times of the day and night. You both need to be prepared to invest the time and effort required to rebuild trust. This often takes as long as two years, says the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

Calling it Quits

Instinct may tell you when it is time to move on from your relationship. If your partner has worked hard to earn your forgiveness and rebuild trust, but you simply can't get over the fact that he cheated, it may be better for both of you to go your separate ways, says Dr. Phil. Perhaps counseling has brought certain issues to light that you are simply unable to resolve. If you feel that you will be happier and healthier on your own than in the relationship, end it gracefully and move forward with your life.

About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."

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