“Hi Dr Nikki. I’m a 40-year-old man, married for 13 years. We have a kid and I found my wife is cheating on me again. I discovered her four years ago having an affair. I forgave her and we worked together to rebuild our relationship but now I’ve realized that she is doing the same thing. I don’t really want to keep going with this. Is it better to finish? I don’t love her the same.”
When it comes to rebuilding a relationship after infidelity, it’s a very complex matter and I feel that as a society, we quickly demonize somebody for doing it when we want to help the other person move on. We say things like “that person disrespected you”, “they have broken your trust”. And whilst that might be true, the biggest thing with infidelity is asking why. That might start to give us insight into what happened. Was there something going on at home and that person was longing for intimacy? Was it one of those occasions of “Oops, I’ve stuffed up, I had a few to drink, there was a physical attraction, I went with it”? Is someone trying to get out of a commitment? There are all sorts of reasons as to why someone cheats and that’s the biggest thing to explore first.
If you’re trying to look at if you can forgive this person or not?”, it’s finding out the why. Now, whilst it seems that you’ve been able to rebuild your relationship after one bout of infidelity, asking the why is really important in this situation. Why did this happen again? Did you address this the first time around? Are there problems to do with her sense of self-worth? Is she looking for that validation? And sometimes people who are in long-term relationships desire that validation from somebody that they know it’s not a guarantee, not their primary partner at home.
It’s really important to look at the why here because overcoming another bout of infidelity is going to be very difficult if you don’t know why it happened in the first place. But, it sounds to me that maybe you are done. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but if you’re saying that you don’t love her the same anymore, you need to start exploring and analyzing whether that love can be rebuilt, whether there are things here that are worth fighting for or whether you’re best off to be co-parents and to split.
Now, unfortunately I can’t make that decision for you nor should I. This is really a journey that you have to go on, but you need to make sure that it is your decision, that it’s not the people around you saying, “She cheated on you again, you got to leave.” It needs to be you having a look at what happened and why it happened. Do you want to continue to work on this relationship? Is there a glimpse of love that’s there? Can you forgive her again? Or is this just too big for you?
I would really encourage you to spend some time exploring this issue. I know it’s not going to be easy and it will be a very difficult journey and a very difficult decision to make, but this is part of life and love. I would encourage you to make sure that you are respecting yourself and looking after yourself as well. There’s a lot that can go on through this process and you might feel like you’re torn in all sorts of different ways. Make sure that you’re looking after yourself and giving back to yourself while trying to balance all these facts in your head.
I wish you all the best and I wish I could give you an easy solution. But we all need to go through our own journeys and the best decision you can make is the one you make yourself.