After intimate betrayal is discovered, cheaters often wonder if they should try to save their existing relationship or just move on. Sometimes this decision is taken out of their hands, as the betrayed partner decides to break things off. But usually, there is a limbo state where neither partner is sure how he or she feels about staying together or ending it. In such cases, we advise that you and your partner commit to staying together for at least six months before attempting to make a decision one way or the other.
Ultimately, there is no set formula for whether you should stay together or not. You and your partner will need to decide both individual and together if there are enough positive elements of your relationship to make the difficult work of healing worthwhile. In his book, Out of the Doghouse, Dr. Rob Weiss presents 14 things to consider as you make this decision.
- Do you enjoy spending time together? If you and your partner have come to genuinely dislike (or no longer appreciate) one another, that’s an obvious red flag. One of the primary reasons for being in a long-term romantic partnership is that it’s fun and If you find that you dread spending time together, then you may lack the solid foundation that is necessary for rebuilding the relationship. If, however, you still enjoy each other’s company (or feel that you will do so as the relationship starts to heal), that’s a good sign.
- Do you trust each other? Trust is a key element in a healthy relationship. If two people trust each other, if they know they have each other’s backs no matter what, that’s a solid relationship foundation. Of course, relationship trust has likely been decimated by the infidelity, and it will take a long time and a lot of concerted effort to rebuild that trust. So the question here, really, is whether you and your partner believe that trust can be re-established. If so, that’s worth a lot.
- Do you play well together? If you and your partner have at least a few common interests—hobbies and activities that you can enjoy together—that’s a strong indicator of a relationship worth saving, especially if those interests are an important area of life for one or both of you. This does not mean that you must love all your partner’s interests or that your partner must love all of If your significant other’s for knitting puts you to sleep, so be it, as long as the two of you have at least a few interests that you both enjoy.
- Do you share core values and beliefs? You and your spouse are not going to agree on every little thing, nor should But to make the relationship work over the long haul, you need at least a little common ground regarding things like religion, politics, finances, education, and raising kids. If you have this in your relationship, then you have a solid foundation upon which to rebuild.
- Do you have kids? Children are not the only reason to stay in a relationship, but they’re a darn good After all, no matter how much you struggle with your spouse, you’re going to love your children, and you will always keep their welfare in mind. So you need to consider the ways in which they will be affected if you and your spouse separate.
- Do you and your spouse usually find a way to resolve disagreements? In any intimate relationship, conflict is It is also useful because it helps us to define our boundaries. In healthy relationships, arguments and disagreements are actually growth opportunities: chances to learn patience, empathy, and new ways of thinking and relating. In cases where you and your spouse are unable to agree, if you can at least amicably disagree most of the time, then you probably have something worth saving.
- Are you free to be your own person? Good relationships are built on commonality, but too much closeness and agreement can feel smothering and enmeshed (to both of you). If you feel you can’t have your own interests, friends, and activities, then you may be in an excessively entangled, fear-based relationship, and that’s far from ideal. The best relationships involve separate people with separate identities, with each person free to think and act as he or she sees fit (within certain mutually agreed-upon limits).
- Do you respect each other? If you and your partner each bring something special and meaningful to the relationship, then it is much easier to respect each other’s opinions, interests, beliefs, and contributions. If, however, the relationship is drastically unequal, with one person running the show at all times, you will probably continue to struggle. In a healthy relationship, each person values and respects the other exactly as he or she truly
- Do you still enjoy sex together? You’re probably well past the puppy-love stage when you first started dating and having sex, no longer feeling the same type of electric shock with each other that you once did. So the question here is not about crazy wild hotness every time you look at your spouse, it’s about whether you feel a continuing spark of sexual attraction and if you still enjoy the physical intimacy that you have (or that you were having until the infidelity was discovered).
- Do you support each other emotionally? If you think that your partner is not there for you when the going gets tough or that your partner expresses constant disagreement, dismissal, negativity, criticism, control, or indifference toward your thoughts, beliefs, goals, desires, or activities, that’s not a great indicator of long-term relationship well-being. If, however, your partner works to help you succeed and leaves you feeling as if you consistently have someone in your corner cheering for you, then your relationship is much more likely to
- Does your relationship roll with the punches? It is important for both you and your significant other to understand that a relationship is not stagnant. If growth occurs or is sought, and both parties accept and even cheer that, there is a great foundation on which to rebuild. Conversely, the more resistance to change there is, the tougher it will be to heal your relationship, because a major part of the healing process involves making changes.
- Are your relationship expectations realistic? No person or relationship is perfect. If either you or your partner consistently expects the other to look and act in a certain way, then disappointment is In a healthy relationship, both partners must accept and respect each other, warts and all.
- Is there a history of cheating? Does the cheater have a history of infidelity? If so, no matter how you feel about your significant other, the cheater needs to take a long hard look at his or her thoughts and behaviors regarding long-term commitment. If the common denominator in a series of failed relationships is infidelity, happiness will not be found by simply moving on to someone
- Are you both invested in saving the relationship? It takes two to tango. If you want to keep your relationship alive but your partner seems determined to end it, there is little you can do about that. If your desire to save your relationship is one-sided, then there really is no relationship to In such cases, the best that you can do is accept this fact, grieve, and learn from your mistakes.
Once again, there are no set rules for determining when a relationship is or is not worth saving. Ultimately, you must decide this matter for yourself. If, however, you find that you’ve answered yes to more than a few of the above questions, then you’ve probably got something that is worth the effort. For information about healing after infidelity, we suggest reading Dr. Rob Weiss’s book, Out of the Doghouse. We also suggest the free podcasts, webinars, discussion groups, and blogs available through our affiliated website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com.