The pain of betrayal can be unbearable when you find out your spouse has been cheating on you. You may feel like you’re dying inside and wonder what to do next. Sometimes, it’s evident that divorce is your next step. However, in some situations, you may have a hard time deciding whether or not divorce is the best decision for you. Let’s look at when to walk away after infidelity.
What is Infidelity? Why Does It Hurt So Much?
Before we dive into when to walk away after infidelity, it’s essential to understand what infidelity is and why it hurts so much.
Infidelity is being unfaithful to a spouse or partner. This can include physical or emotional cheating or both.
An emotional affair may involve:
- Developing a deep bond with someone other than your spouse
- Sharing intimate details about your relationship
- Engaging in online affairs
Physical cheating involves sexual contact or intercourse with someone other than your spouse.
Both types of cheating can be devastating to a relationship. As the betrayed partner, your partner’s infidelity can cause you to feel unimportant and worthless. The pain of being cheated on can feel all-consuming and may even lead to depression.
Why is This Happening? Common Reasons for Infidelity
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Infidelity can happen in happy as well as troubled relationships.”
Some of the reasons for an unfaithful partner to commit infidelity include:
- Lack of affection or fondness
- Loss of caring for each other
- Imbalance of give and take
- No communication about emotional and relationship needs
- Physical health issues, such as chronic pain or disability
- Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
- Addiction to sex, love, romance, gambling, drugs, or alcohol
- Fear of intimacy
- Avoiding the conflicts necessary to work things out
- Transition to parenthood or empty nesting
- When partners live separately for long periods
- Personal dissatisfaction
- Low self-esteem (1)
There are many reasons people struggle with infidelity. If you’ve experienced infidelity, try to understand that your partner’s behavior is not a reflection of you.
A spouse’s infidelity depends on many factors. To handle infidelity and help your marriage to survive, you’ll likely both need to understand what you can do to make your relationship work going forward.
When Should You Walk Away After Infidelity?
- Can a marriage survive infidelity?
- When should you walk away after infidelity?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. Every situation is different, and you’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your relationship. However, you can follow some general guidelines when deciding when to walk away after infidelity.
If your unfaithful partner made one mistake or had an affair and is genuinely sorry for cheating and willing to work on the relationship, it may be worth saving. This will require a lot of effort from both of you, but it’s possible to rebuild trust after an affair.
Marriage counseling can help you work through the pain of an unfaithful spouse and move into a healing process. A marriage counselor can also help your spouse understand why they chose to cheat and how to stay faithful to you in the future.
Working with a relationship expert can help you both talk things through and handle what you perceive as negative emotions. Marriage counselors may also give you related reading to help you better understand each other and how to help infidelity end for good!
Sorry, Not Sorry
If your partner isn’t sorry or doesn’t seem to care about the pain they’ve caused, it may be time for a wake-up call. For a relationship to survive, a cheating partner must understand how they hurt you and be willing to accept responsibility for infidelity, your hurt feelings, and rebuilding trust.
When a cheating partner refuses to take responsibility for committing an infidelity and work to restore intimacy, these are glaring red warning signs!
A partner who does not express remorse is not in a relationship with you anymore.
If your partner cheats more than once or continues cheating with their affair partner, their behavior shows you that breaking trust is no big deal for them. They’ve also shown you that an extramarital affair is more important to them than your committed relationship.
As a serial cheater, your partner’s cheating behavior demonstrates their lack of feelings for you. And the saying “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” applies to this partner!
When Is It a Broken Marriage?
Consider whether or not you can trust a cheating husband or wife again. If you don’t think you can ever trust your partner again, it’s probably best to end the relationship.
The Dangers of Living With a Cheating Spouse
Consider your own well-being when deciding whether or not to stay in a relationship after infidelity. If the pain is too much for you to bear or if you feel unable to survive infidelity, it may be best to divorce.
Only you can decide what’s best for you and your relationship. If you’re struggling to make a decision, talk to a licensed therapist or counselor who can help you weigh your options and consider what is best for you and any children.
Ending a marriage is a big decision, but you shouldn’t stay in a relationship if it’s not healthy for you. If your partner refuses to take responsibility for their cheating, it may be best to walk away. This will allow you to start the healing process and move on with your life.
How to Rebuild Your Marriage
If you’ve decided to stay in the relationship, there are some steps you can take to begin the healing process.
Talk about what happened: You and your partner need to talk about what happened and why it happened. This will help you understand what led to the affair and how to make it less likely in the future.
Make a plan: Once you’ve talked about what happened, you’ll need to make a plan to move forward with your partner. This may include marriage counseling, therapy, or simply spending more time together with your partner.
Forgive: Forgiving your partner is essential for moving on. However, it’s important to remember that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It means accepting what happened and choosing to move forward.
Rebuild trust: This will be the most challenging part of the process, but it’s essential for a healthy relationship. You’ll need to learn to trust your partner again, which will take time and effort.
These steps aren’t easy, but they’re necessary if you want to rebuild your relationship after infidelity. With time, patience, and effort, you can overcome the pain of betrayal and create a strong and committed relationship.
Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes: What If I Can’t Make It Work?
- Does a relationship survive if your partner is not on board when working through marital problems?
- Can a marriage work if only one person puts in the effort?
- If your partner is not trustworthy, is it possible to trust them again?
The fact is, you can’t heal a relationship with only one person doing the work.
If you’ve tried everything to heal your relationship but failed miserably, it’s likely not your fault. It may be time to look at your spouse’s actions and recognize that the relationship of a married couple depends on two people.
How to Separate and Divorce in North Carolina
If you know it’s over, it’s time to move away from your toxic relationship!
When marriages end in North Carolina, they generally start with a year-long separation period. If you’re wondering, you don’t need legal documents or a separation agreement to prove your separation. However, you must live separately and apart from your spouse for one year before you can apply for an absolute divorce in NC.
After the infidelity pain you’ve endured, a year-long separation is an excellent time to recognize your own feelings and stop worrying about how to handle your partner’s issues.
After a long relationship with a partner, you need time to heal before having emotional involvement in a new relationship.
It’s wise to take the separation year to heal and find your strength before dating again. Your future relationships will be healthier if you deal with the pain of infidelity apart from another new relationship.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms to live separately for one year, you may apply for a “Divorce From Bed & Board.” This legal separation with judicial action considers how to separate and live apart from each other.
However, it is not an absolute divorce and does not grant the right to remarry.
Grounds for a “Divorce from Bed & Board” in North Carolina include:
- Abandonment (that is, willfully leaving the marriage without just cause or the consent of the other spouse)
- Maliciously turning the other spouse out of doors
- Cruel or barbarous treatment that endangers the life of the other
- Indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs causing indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome
If you are considering a divorce from bed and board, it is essential to speak with a divorce attorney to discuss your evidence and strategy for the hearing.
A divorce from bed and board may be the first step in getting an absolute divorce later if you choose to do so. It is important to note that a divorce from bed and board is a separation in North Carolina. It does not grant the right to remarry as an absolute divorce does.
Separation Agreements and Alimony
Judges look at many factors when awarding alimony to a spouse. The agreements you and your spouse draw up during the separation period will likely affect your final divorce agreement.
When determining alimony and division of property, judges consider the marital misconduct of either of the spouses through the court date.
The court also looks at factors such as:
- Earning capacities of each spouse
- Age and physical, mental, and emotional factors affecting each spouse
- Time length of the marriage
- Standard of living during the marriage and the needs of each spouse now
- Homemaker contributions
- Contributions by spouse to education, training, or earnings of the other
- Education of each spouse
- Education for the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet their needs
- Financial impact of custody of children
- All income: earnings, dividends, benefits such as medical insurance, retirement funds, other insurance, or Social Security
- Property brought to the marriage
- Assets and liabilities
- Federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award
Your Actions Matter
Even though North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, your actions during your marriage can affect your separation agreement and, eventually, your divorce terms.
Most couples find the most difficult points to negotiate include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Distribution of assets
- Child visitation
If you and your spouse can agree on terms of separation, you can draw up your separation agreement and apply for absolute divorce after a year’s separation. Your divorce attorney can help you through every step and protect your rights along the way!
When You’re Ready for Separation and Divorce
Infidelity pain is heartbreaking, but you can come out stronger on the other side. It can take time to decide whether to walk away after infidelity. However, with time, counseling, and the wisdom of friends and family, you can make the best decision for yourself and any children.
If you decide a separation is best, we can help. At Plekan Law, our experienced separation and divorce attorneys can help you develop a separation agreement that can take you into the future. We can also represent you at any hearings for child custody, visitation, and support, in addition to helping you apply for spousal support during separation or alimony after divorce.
Contact us today and find out how we can help you move forward!