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Why Women Stay With Men Who Cheat

Why Women Stay With Men Who Cheat

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.

Image Source: Ed Yourdon via Flickr/Creative Commons

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.

Join The Conversation
NancyOrtivez NancyOrtivez 3 years
I was never married but I was with my boyfriend for 2 years and we had some problems like all couples. We had just had a baby 2 months before I found out he cheated on me. I found out cause he gave me his phone to go through to get rid of stuff that was in it. I seen the message from the other female so he was not able to deny it. Since our place was in my name only I kicked him out that same night which was 3 days after Christmas last year. He rarely sees our baby. I also talked to the other female and she tells me she's not going anywhere.
marita98175 marita98175 4 years
will for me cheaters always by a choice of his or her own life....i guess if you really love your partner or your family there is no reason to cheat... trust ones you broken the circle its hard to connect again....
TanyaDowney61144 TanyaDowney61144 4 years
As a happily married woman of 20 years, I've learned a thing or two about infidelity. First, the person who chooses to cheat cannot be the only person blamed for problems with a relationship. Second, it is infinitely more difficult to rebuild trust (or communication or whatever needs to be worked on) in a relationship than it is to simply give up and walk away. While I'm certainly not proud of the decisions I made nearly 13 years ago, I did cheat on my husband. He gave me the option to walk away, but I knew in my heart that wasn't what I wanted. Did he forgive me? Absolutely. And I have worked tremendously hard to rebuild our relationship (which is now better than I could have ever imagined). We both had to honestly discuss our shortcomings and be realistic in our expectations with one another. All in all, cheating was easily one of the most ignorant and selfish decisions I've ever made. But if I hadn't cheated, we never would have grown as a couple. I would never even consider cheating on my husband at this point---I've invested some serious emotional and psychological equity into this relationship. Looking back on that terrible time in our relationship, I realize that we were immature and very selfish. Once we found a way to understand each other's needs, the relationship improved drastically.
DeeKirkman DeeKirkman 4 years
Actually Tori, I really struggle with my SO telling another woman she's "beautiful" and calling her "sweety" (I caught their affair via their facebook messages). I'm sorry, but I don't go around calling other men "darling" and sharing my innermost thoughts with anyone other than my SO, my best friend. I can't even imagine going from bed to bed with various men. Sex is something I enjoy, but it's also something special I enjoy with someone special. It's not just screwing for the physical need. Not for me anyway. I think some people can do the whole "open relationship" thing. But for the most part, we want security and trust. Having my SO sleep with the kind of skank he did, who sees sex as a sport and happily advertises it on her facebook page disgusts me. The kind of woman that has someone babysit her kids while shes meets my SO at a motel to have sex and then he comes home and sleeps with me is gross. I do not want to share anything intimate with a man who can touch that sort of low life. I'm disgusted that he lowered himself to that standard. I had every test for STDs I could get after I found out. Open relationships dont work for some of us, and it's not my insecurity talking. I simply expect the same respect from my partner that I show to him.
ToriCrossman ToriCrossman 4 years
There's no such thing as "cheating" except in our brains. It's unreasonable and against biological drives to try and expect a significant other never to stray. It puts undue strain on the relationship. Really, what is the big deal? Are you afraid that if your SO "cheats" they won't love you anymore? Are you afraid they'll leave you? Are you afraid that they'll lose interest in you? That's your own insecurity talking, and it has nothing at all to do with your SO's real feelings and only puts pressure on him. Haven't you ever wondered why it is that those who are most concerned with cheating are usually the ones who have the most strained and unhappy marriages? Honestly, people. Get over yourselves.
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