After An Affair Shouldn’t I Just Divorce?
You’ve heard the lyrics from LeAnn Rime’s song “Life Goes On”:
Shame on you if you fool me once. Shame on me if you fool me twice.
That’s a popular response to an affair. As she sings:
Where I’m at, is my life before me and this feeling that I can’t go back
Live goes on
In other words:
Once a cheater always a cheater (another pop cultural response to the pain of an affair) or, even if you repented and were sorry and never did it again I could never heal, I could never forgive, I could never forget, and even if I could do that, the affair destroyed the relationship, so the only way to deal with it is to dump your sorry butt and not look back.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think you should take advice from LeAnn Rimes on something so important. In her defense, she didn’t write the song and was only twenty when she recorded it. To her shame, she was the “other woman” only a few years later. Not surprising to me. If you are cavalier about your vows on either side of this debate you are ripe for an affair yourself. She’s quoted as saying in Wikipedia: “I take responsibility for everything I’ve done. I hate that people got hurt, but I don’t regret the outcome.” Hmmmm. Let’s see: I destroyed two families, but at least I’m happy? I don’t think “I take responsibility” and “I don’t regret the outcome” should be in the same sentence. Maybe not even in the same life! It certainly hasn’t helped her.
Her song and life reflect three common beliefs: After an affair there’s no such thing as 1) repentance or 2) forgiveness or 3) healing. It’s understandable people would think these things. Affairs are very painful all around.
But they are also very temporary. Nearly all. They are a buzz, a thrill, an adrenalin rush, like a heroin high you eventually will come down from like a crash. You also have to disobey God to do it and go against your own conscience and go against all common decency and feel the disparagement and anger and hurt and disbelief of your spouse and children and other loved ones and friends. In some cases you can get fired and even arrested. Yeah, you can find a few like-minded pervs out there who will pat you on the back and say you did the right thing and your spouse was a jerk or whatever, but you still have to look yourself in their mirror in the morning. And the morning after that and the morning after that for the rest of your life… and you will see ghosts everywhere and doubt everyone’s integrity and not be able to trust anyone because of what you did and you will think everyone is out to get everyone just like you. Did you remember LeAnne Rimes ended up checking in for treatment for anxiety and depression nearly three years after her little fling she didn’t regret? The ghosts are following her. No surprises there.
This stuff is no fun to deal with, granted. But don’t try going it alone. I’m here to tell you there is such a thing as repentance. People really do learn their lessons and don’t want to go back to cheating and will do whatever they can to not go down that horror street again. I’m here to tell you there is such a thing as forgiveness and you won’t obsess on your spouse’s cheating the rest of your life if you do the right things. I’m here to tell you both of you as a couple can heal from this, learn from this, rise above it, conquer it and reclaim your marriage. In fact, for many couples their marriages are better than ever before because they both learned they can’t take each other for granted, we live in a fragile world and we’d better tend to each other.
But knowing how to say no to temptation going forward, knowing how to heal together, knowing how to not obsess on the violation of it all…these are not easy rows to hoe. There’s some pain along the way. There’s some obstacles to climb over. There’s some rubbish to throw away. There’s some wounds to clean out.
That’s where we come in. We know the territory. We’ve been down this road with many, many other couples. You still have to go down life’s journey, but we can give you a road map. The road is fraught with danger and, granted, some therapists have no idea how to help you navigate those roads.
But we do.
Give us a holler.