The decisions that you have to make after your husband cheats or has an affair are often grueling. And perhaps none is as quite as difficult as deciding if you’re going to stay or go. Taking inventory of how you really feel and what you really want often is not quite as easy or as obvious as some might think. And unfortunately, many of us not only worry about our own thoughts and feelings, we’re also worried about what other people think of us and our decision.
I recently heard from a wife who was leaning toward staying with her husband after he cheated and had an affair. This decision did not come easily and she did not take it lightly. But, the deciding factor for her was her desire to not just walk away from her marriage without first trying everything in her power to save it. Of course, every one had their own opinion on her decision. Some of her friends and family were very vocal and open with their disapproval. The wife said, in part: “my mother says that my husband is not going to have any respect for me and is going to think I’m stupid for staying with him after he cheated or had an affair. She says that he’s going to think I’m a door mat so that he can continue on with his bad behavior and I’ll stay no matter what. I certainly don’t want this. Do men think their wives are stupid when they stay after infidelity?”
I suppose the answer to this question probably depends upon the husband, the marital history, and the circumstances surrounding the affair. So, while I don’t know those factors and can’t form a definitive opinion, I can tell you what many husbands tell me regarding this issue.
In My Experience, Most Men Are So Relieved Their Wives Are Staying And Standing By Them After An Affair That They Don’t Make Moral Judgments: Of course, you can’t say that every man is going to react in the same way or have the same feelings. But men who comment or contact me on my infidelity blog seem to be overwhelmingly relieved when their wife decides to stay with them. To be fair, the blog’s topic is saving marriages after an affair so it’s probably not going to attract the men who aren’t interested or invested in their marriages.
But, I can’t remember any husband indicating that his wife was stupid or lacking in self esteem for staying with him. In fact, many don’t really question or delve too deeply into your reasons for staying. They’re simply grateful that you made the decision that you did and many are looking for ways to make sure the marriage survives and that they don’t cheat again.
And frankly, many men know that it is not in their best interest to be too judgmental or critical of you and your decisions when it’s their decisions that got you here in the first place. A man who wants to save his marriage and make things up to his wife is hopefully not going to be dumb enough to think (or tell) that same wife that she’s stupid for standing by him. Instead, he’s just going to be grateful that she is and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that this is a decision that she doesn’t regret.
I occasionally have men who marvel at their wife’s ability to be so forgiving. I’ve had some tell me that they themselves might not have reacted in the same way if the roles were reversed. But they will often tell you that this is because they are not as forgiving or as emotionally strong. They often don’t see this decision as one born out of stupidity but rather one born out of emotional maturity and a forgiving nature. As a result, they often want to rise to the occasion so that you don’t regret this decision.
The Decision Of Whether To Stay Or Go After Infidelity Is Yours Alone. Try Not To Worry About Anyone’s Opinion: I know that this is easier said than done, but honestly, there are only two people involved here and only two people who should matter – you and your husband. Anyone else’s opinion really should be irrelevant and a non factor. Only the two of you have all of the information and have to ultimately live with any decisions that you will make.
And although your husband is intimately involved in this situation, the decisions that affect your own life and well being are ultimately yours alone. If you are worried about what your husband might think of you if you decide to stay with him despite the cheating or the affair, then there’s nothing wrong with sitting him down and making very clear that although you are making the decision to stay, this doesn’t mean that you are stupid, lacking in self confidence, or giving him a free pass. It means that you want to stay provided that he can prove to you that staying is in your best interest because he intends to rehabilitate the marriage and himself.
A decision to stay certainly doesn’t mean that the slate is going to be wiped clean or that things are just going to go back to normal. No, at least in my opinion, the decision to stay is only the beginning. It means that you’re giving your husband the chance to prove to you that the marriage can be salvaged and the trust can be restored. However, the decision to stay can be changed or retracted at any time. This is being cautiously optimistic about wanting to save your marriage. It is not being stupid. You have to have the confidence that you are perfectly capable of making a sound and informed decision. And should you receive information that indicates the decision was not the right call, then you will change it or make another one. And no one else’s opinion should factor into that equation but your own.
Related Content That Might Help: At the end of the day, I made the very measured and conscious decision to stay with my husband after an affair and I don’t think I was stupid to do so. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. If it helps, you can read more of that story on my surviving the affair blog referenced below.