A question of importance to many people when they catch a cheating spouse is whether cheating spouses can be “cured” of their infidelity in marriage, or trusted again in future.
There’s no single answer to the question, as it depends in each case on the individuals and the situations involved. Still, if both parties wish to repair the marriage, it is possible for people and their behaviors to change.
The Cheating Spouses Have to Want to Change
A basic tenet of human relationships and behavior is the fact that no one else can force another person to change. In cases of infidelity, the cheating spouses themselves have to want to change their behavior, and to work on rebuilding the trust and the marriage. If this isn’t the case, no amount of suspicious monitoring or controlling on the part of the other spouse can guarantee fidelity, or prevent a future affair.
It also has to be said that cheating spouses themselves often aren’t sure what they want. In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of their infidelity, their first reaction might be to proclaim a renewed dedication to the marriage, combined with vows of “good behavior” from that point forward.
These reactions can be entirely true and spoken from the heart, or they can be the result of confusion and uncertainty. The idea of a cataclysmic end to the marriage can be alarming even to the spouse who was cheating–but it’s also possible that they aren’t entirely ready to give up another person (or a behavior pattern) for the same reasons which led them to cheat in the first place.
Changes in Cheating Spouses May Depend Upon Circumstances
Different circumstances make for different challenges when it comes to evaluating the intentions of cheating spouses. For example, with the discovery after-the-fact of an earlier affair which has been over for some time, it may be easier to believe and trust that the infidelity is actually over, and might not be repeated.
If the affair was current and ongoing when the infidelity was uncovered, it may be a stickier situation to unravel. In these cases, the cheating spouses have to wrap up the affair itself and all the entanglements with the third party before the couple can even begin to address issues of future trust. It’s wise at this point for both parties to be frank about what they want and need if the marriage is to continue. The cheated-on spouse may require a promise (accompanied by matching action) about the ending of the affair, as a starting point.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
In marriages where cheating spouses are discovered by their partners, only one-third of those discoveries lead directly to divorce. Although that is a substantial percentage, it’s also worth note that the majority of marriages don’t “automatically” end with the discovery of infidelity. Repairing a marriage after infidelity will take work and trust on the part of both partners, but cheating spouses don’t necessarily have to be come ex-spouses.