When it comes to statistics regarding relationship infidelity, the numbers aren't entirely clear. Estimates from therapists suggests that anywhere between 30 percent and 80 percent of relationships experience cheating, according to Peggy Drexler, a research psychologist, in her PsychologyToday article, "After the Affair: The Uncertain Road to Healing." What is clear, however, is that when cheating does happen, sometimes it marks the end of a relationship, while at other times, couples are able to repair broken bonds. If your spouse breaks your trust, several strategies can help you determine whether you can salvage your relationship -- and whether you should bother.
Take Time Away
If you have recently uncovered the affair, spend some time away from your partner, suggests the MayoClinic.com article, "Infidelity: Mending Your Marriage after an Affair." You might experience intense emotions and the desire to make dangerously impulsive decisions, such as harming yourself, your partner or your partner's extra lover. In addition, you should delay the decision whether to end your marriage until after you have all the details of the affair. Until you are ready to confront your spouse, seek support from friends or counselors, suggests MayoClinic.com.
Discuss Details and Reasons
Talk to your spouse openly about the affair. Address the many potentially painful details, such as the nature of the affair, the length of the affair and the reasons behind it. Most of the common reasons behind an affair don't involve the actions or appearance of the offender's spouse, suggests mental health counselor Dr. Erica Goodstone in the PsychCentral.com article, "Can Your Relationship Survive Cheating?" For example, sometimes cheating occurs when a person needs a temporary escape from problems or dull routines.
Question the Future
Once you know the details, assess the possibility of forgiveness, suggests Drexler on PsychologyToday. First, ask yourself if you can imagine ever letting go of the incident. Next, assess your partner's commitment to repairing the damage. Ask yourself if your partner seems genuinely sorry, and also consider the odds of a repeat offense. To heal your relationship, you must both work together, suggests Drexler. One person cannot be more dedicated to the goal than the other. If you doubt your partner’s commitment to the task -- or even your own -- consider ending the marriage.
Seek the help of a professional marriage counselor. Discussions and activities during counseling sessions can help you both take a more enlightening look at yourselves, each other and at the relationship as a whole. Don't expect instant healing from counseling, however, suggests Goodstone on PsychCentral. The sessions might even lead you both to realize the marriage is not solid enough to go on. Know that many couples are able to recover from the turmoil of an affair, and in some cases, the counseling greatly improves relationship satisfaction.