Affairs are devastating to all concerned, and demonstrate emotional immaturity. Ask yourself, “Have I done all I can within my marriage to correct the problems and get what I want there?” While I don't think you should stay and suffer, I think a lot of people could do the work and wind up happier than if they leave, rather than take the shortcut of leaving without doing the work.
Often dissatisfaction grows from resentment, and the root causes can be fixed with the help of counseling. With some work, a marriage can be improved -- or at the very least, can be turned into a life that works, with companionship.
People often get into “"the grass is greener” fantasy and later regret leaving after the damage is done. It’s possible that you will find an extraordinary love after divorcing late in life, but most of my clients find the potential partners out there are no better than the ones they left.
I see a fair number of couples who get back together after a divorce, because they had a chance to see what it’s like to be alone, and to calm down and get over petty resentments. By now, they’re a lot poorer because of the costs of the divorce, dividing up property, and so on.
Top 5 reasons to stay:
- Your spouse truly recognizes he or she has a problem, and is willing to get help to fix it, and to be accountable for rebuilding trust.
- You two are going to counseling, and understanding why the affair happened, and how to fix the problems.
- You're getting your own sex life back on track, if it was off track.
- You have a long, shared history, joint finances, and family ties that make it worth keeping the marriage together (if #1 is also true).
- You still love each other, and it's clearly mutual.
Top 5 reasons to go:
Tina Tessina, Ph.D., has been a licensed California psychotherapist for more than 30 years. She has authored more than 11 books, including "Money, Sex and Kids"; “The Commuter Marriage: Keeping your Relationship Close While you’re Far Apart”; "How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free"; "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again"; and, “It Ends with You: Grow Up and Grow Out of Dysfunction.” Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Your spouse is in denial, makes excuses, and blames you.
2. You have had it, and no longer feel connected. Be sure this isn't just temporary anger.
3. You are prepared to be on your own.
4. You either have no children, they're grown, or you're certain a divorce will be better for them than what's going on.
5. Your spouse refuses to give up his other sex partner.