He Cheated -- Now What?

6 years ago

They were together over 20 years when he confessed his infidelity. The other woman was carrying his child and she was putting pressure on him to leave his wife.

It's been 15 months since Debi found out about the affair. Over the weekend, Debi blogged about the choice she made after discovering the hurtful truth about the affair.

That's the choice all women face when they consider infidelity: kick him to the curb and let the other woman keep him or stay and work for what you have together. Debi chose to stay and fight for her marriage. At first, she writes, she felt betrayed and angry.

That initial feeling passes quickly and life flashes before your eyes... Your wedding. Your babies. Was it a lie? Is it worth saving? And, it's an easy answer. It is worth the fight, and it is a fight like nothing you have ever experienced.

However, you aren't the only one making the choice and that's the kicker. He has to want it too, has to, or there is no way to move forward. And that might be the hardest part for any woman to understand or accept because as much as the infidelity wasn’t your choice, it also seems that reconciling the marriage is not your choice either unless he wants it.

[. . . ] And it is about give and take. It has to be. As much as your initial reaction is to torture him with expectations he can never meet, the reality is, if you love him, you will be honest in your attempt to reconcile. Anything else isn't fair to either of you.

Photo by Alice Popkorn.

It has been 15 months since she discovered her husband's infidelity. She's still fighting, and he's fighting by her side. It hasn't been easy, but they're making progress. "If you do it right, you might even find that the marriage you thought you had was never as good as the marriage you've created," Debi writes. "We're getting there..."

Hers is an incredible journey. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to dispense. In her book Staying True, about her husband’s famous Appalachian Trail affair, Jenny Sanford reflects on forgiveness:

[Former South Carolina] Governor Blackwood is beloved for pardoning all the inmates on his mansion staff one Christmas long ago. So the story goes, he hung small envelopes with certificates of pardon bearing the name of each of the inmates on the Christmas tree in the large drawing room. How I wish the act of forgiveness in everyday life was as easy as hanging an ornament on a tree.

Of course, it was easy for Governor Blackwood to pardon those inmates whatever they had done had happened to someone else, a family or an individual who even years later might still be struggling to forgive the person who caused that crime. When someone errs against us or causes harm, it is in our basic nature to fight back or to right a wrong. Watch any two children at play together long enough and you are bound to see one snatch a toy or stick from the other. The response is immediate. The wronged child grabs the toy back or screams and bops the other child over the head. Rarely is forgiveness instinctive. Forgiveness must be learned, and even practiced, until it is easier to be truly and fully given.

She closes the chapter with a quote from Desmond Tutu: "Forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew."

Has infidelity touched your life? What choice did you make?

AV Flox is the section editor of Love & Sex on BlogHer. You can connect with her on Twitter @avflox, Google Plus +AV Flox, or e-mail her directly at av.flox AT BlogHer.com

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