It was such a big hit in the heart. I was so embarrassed, because I just had this big wedding and now I wanted to leave.
It’s a long process, but you can work through it
When cheating occurs in a relationship, you’re left with two options: You can stay or you can go. Both are painful for all parties, but the latter comes with particular challenges as you figure out a way to put the affair behind you. For many couples, it’s the ultimate deal breaker.
How can you both forgive and forget? But “the focus on forgiveness after infidelity is increasingly more common in couples therapy,” says Ritu Trivdei-Purohit, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist. “[It] is understood as a process to improve their understanding of themselves, their partner, and their relationship in order to overcome the negative aspects of the betrayal.” Here, five women explain what it’s like to work through an affair—a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
“I found out my husband cheated when I picked up his cell phone to search for a photo we had taken together and found instead a very revealing photo of another woman. He immediately confessed that he had been having an affair with her for a year. I was completely devastated, but the first thing I wanted to do was see a professional who could help us fix this.
We went to couple’s therapy together once a week. He stopped seeing the other woman and we slowly rebuilt our trust. I guess I decided to stay with him because when I caught him, he just stopped. He stopped the lies, told the truth, and then worked with me to make things better.” —Shelly S., 37
“I was the one who had strayed from the marriage, when I hooked up with a guy from work. It was just a few times, but I felt so bad about it that I told my husband everything. I confessed everything in the hopes that we could start over. He was so upset and immediately moved out, thinking we would separate. We spent three months apart and in that time I tried to work on myself, examining why I cheated and what confidence issues I was suffering with. With these new conclusions, I begged for him to come back and eventually he did.” —Judy G., 33
“I cheated, then he cheated, and once we were both guilty, we decided to put that behind us. We’ve been married for 15 years, and affairs happen. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of a relationship, but it often means something is broken. We decided to get therapy and move on together. It’s been six years since either one of us have cheated and our relationship is stronger than ever.” —Victoria P., 38
“I’ve been with my partner for over 10 years. We live together, we share everything, and I’m very happy with our relationship. But one night I made a mistake when I was traveling for work and met another woman. We spent the night together and never spoke again. After a few months of keeping the secret, I sat her down and told her what I did and how I was so sorry.
I told her I’d spent the rest of our years together making sure it never happened ever again. She was very mad but looked me in the eye and said love trumps everything else. She meant it and we’ve slowly been reforming our relationship for the last year.” —Rachel D., 40
“Everyone says that when you’re cheated on you should pack up your stuff and go, but it’s not that easy. My husband of only six months cheated on me right after our wedding, like the week after. I found out when I noticed some girl wouldn’t stop commenting on his Instagram. Eventually she came forward and told me the guy I just married has been dating her for months.
It was such a big hit in the heart. I was so embarrassed, because I just had this big wedding and now I wanted to leave. Honestly, I still do, but I’m scared of being alone and starting over. My husband knows that I know and he’s trying to convince me he’s stopped and will never cheat again, but I seriously don’t believe him and hope one day I wake up with the courage to go.” —Dani S., 26
The article 5 Women Share What Happened To Their Relationships After an Affair originally ran on WomensHealthMag.com.