I think its time to set the record straight. Popular opinion seems to depict cheaters as lowly sleazes, sneaking around, victimizing their spouses, and only worthy of one thing; hitting the sidewalk hard while clutching divorce papers handed to them on the way out. Ironically, the harshest judges are those who have never experienced infidelity. Those who speak from experience are quieter, more accepting of alternate characterizations and marital outcomes.
Why is this?
Well, with “more than 50% of couples staying together after an affair” (Fox News Report), it follows that people who have experienced infidelity understand there is no one type of cheater, and not all cheaters need to be kicked to the curb.
The important thing is to know the difference.
Let’s start with the stereotype. There are those partners who are “sex addicts” or “serial cheaters.” These are people who disagree that, by definition, marriage is monogamous (there’s a blog for another day). And, although I am not in your marriage, my experience has shown that these partners will not change. For you, staying together means a lifetime of distrust and disappointment. Get out now. You deserve better!
But, there are those cases, and I’ve seen many, where the cheating is a single transgression totally out of character. One horrible lapse in judgment. It’s these cases where all is not necessarily lost over a single affair.
Yes, he or she may be cheating, and you know it, because no one knows your spouse better than you. You’ve asked your partner if he/she is cheating, but you don’t believe them. If you did, you wouldn’t need proof. Right?
So you hire a private investigator, somewhere between your first suspicions and being absolutely sure. This is usually when:
1) The infidelity has taken place.
2) There are suspicions and a need to “know.”
3) The lack of trust, or other marital problems make it impossible to trust the response from simply asking
This last one is important.
Remember, it takes two to make it and two to break it…..and two to make it again. I know it’s hard to accept that when you suspect marital infidelity any responsibility could fall your way. After all, you are the victim. But, let’s face it; affairs don’t usually happen in marriages where both partners are fulfilled in and out of the bedroom. You probably even know the issues. They are not new. Life moves fast, and ignoring problems in our marriage is just sometimes easier than dealing with them.
The silver lining?
Believe it or not, infidelity can be a wake up call for both parties. A chance to rebuild and re-establish the relationship you had when you first walked down the aisle.
So, while the sweet taste of revenge may be tempting as I gather the facts, I urge you to think clearly. What I find out is not the end. You still have choices. Try to be pro-active rather than reactive. What you do with the evidence we uncover can have a lasting effect on the future of your marriage.
If you want to throw the him or her out, and build a case for divorce, then go ahead, unleash me in full force. I’ll get lasting pictorial and video proof that leave no room for dispute.
But, if you think person you fell in love with is still worth fighting for, hold on to the pictures and the video. You know the truth, but using this evidence in a confrontation to force an admission can backfire. Instead of a humble apology, you could draw reactions of deeper anger at the thought you had your partner followed, and what may have been a single incident can become something that is difficult, or even impossible to put behind you.
Instead, realize hiring a private investigator is not the end game, but part of an important process of finding the truth and exposing the affair. Only once all is out in the open, can the healing, and the real work, begin.