Cheating. It’s a word that brings with it powerful emotions and knee-jerk reactions, especially when the couple concerned has a family togther. Many Circle of Moms members not only say they wouldn’t stay with someone who cheated on them, but also feel justified in judging others who do.
When it really comes down to it, what we decide to do when a partner cheats is a very personal decision and not everybody thinks leaving is the right choice. Some choose to try to move forward and rebuild their relationships — and here are their stories of why and how.
Forgiveness, Not Acceptance
If you thought forgiving someone means you have to be okay with what they did and to let go of it, you’re wrong, at least according to celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw. He offers that forgiveness isn’t approval and it isn’t for the sake of the person you’re forgiving, it’s for you. He says it’s a way to “give yourself permission to move on with your own life.”
“Forgiving is the easy part,” says Circle of Moms member Kelly S. It’s rebuilding trust that she says is more difficult. Trust relies on the ability to put aside the past and look toward the future for the sake of rebuilding a relationship.
Slowly Rebuilding Trust
Rebuilding trust is a step many moms are willing to take because cheating doesn’t cancel out love. And though love doesn’t cancel out pain either, member Meg H. points out that sometimes “the person you are in so much pain over is worth holding onto" to try to have the life and family you wanted together.
Member Kelly R. sees it that way, too. She also chose to stay after her husband cheated. “I married a fallible human being,” she says, cautioning that even good people can make mistakes that are "monumental."
Don’t Believe “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater”
Another member, Kellie S., says sometimes cheating really is just that: a mistake. In her marriage she was the one who cheated even though she says she married her husband “believing I could never ever do that to him.”
She feels very lucky that her husband loved her enough to want to work it out and says the old “once a cheater, always a cheater” adage isn’t necessarily true. Kellie says she made a terrible mistake, one that she has learned from and one that has allowed her marriage to become healthier as they have gone to counseling to work out issues, including communication.
The Definition of Cheating Makes a Difference
In this ever-changing world, the definition of cheating is also changing. It’s not just sex outside of a relationship anymore that constitutes cheating, it’s intimate emotional relationships, too.
Circle of Moms member Jackie’s husband had what’s referred to as an “emotional affair.” Her husband didn’t have sex with the other woman, but shared an intimately close emotional relationship with her. Many women say that’s a worse betrayal and harder to get past.
Still, Jackie and her husband have moved forward, something she says is easier to do if you accept that life is not always like you expect it to be. It’s also easier when both partners cheat, as was the case in her marriage. She admits that the fact that “no one feels worse than the other,” might be the reason they’ve been able to move past it.
The Will to Stay Together
Heather S. and her husband have been together over twenty years. Though she says she “never thought for a moment [she] would be in this situation,” she also says she never thought about leaving her husband because as long as they loved each other there “was no other choice in [her] heart.”
If there’s a common thread in all of these stories of sticking by in the aftermath of cheating, it’s that none of these moms expected to be in this position and that all of them made a choice to put in the work to make it work.
Choice is a word that comes up again and again when it comes to moving forward after an affair. The choice to forgive. The choice to rebuild trust. The choice to stay together, for the sake of the children, or for your own.
They are all personal choices, and as Lois B. says, “until you have stood in that person's place” don't second guess their choice, even if you think you would have taken a different path.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.