Of all the life events that can cause depression, infidelity is one of the most agonizing. It not only destroys trust and relationships, but it also shatters the self-esteem of the one who is betrayed.
After finding that your partner has been unfaithful, the first question is usually, “Why?” You want to know how he could do this to you, what you did wrong, what the other woman has that you don’t have, and so on. You automatically assume it’s about you, but that’s not always the case.
If your man cheats, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has anything to do with you. People cheat because of their own insecurities, weaknesses, and character flaws–not just because of problems within the relationship.
After the shock wears off, there are many aspects of the situation to be considered:
- Does he want out, or does he want forgiveness (and to continue the relationship)? If he wants out, by all means, let him go! Never try to hold onto someone who doesn’t want you. Nothing good ever comes of it. All that will do is make him hate you, and even make you hate yourself!
- If he wants forgiveness, or even if he doesn’t, you have to forgive him–not for him, but for yourself. Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re okay with what he did or that you have to stay with him. It means that you’re choosing to let go of the hate and/or pain associated with what he did.
- Do you want to try to stay with him? If you do, ask yourself why you want him. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in trying to hold onto a man you don’t love or want anymore just because you don’t want to lose him to her, or because you know it would hurt to know he’s with someone else. If you choose to try to work it out, it should be because he is a good, decent, loving, and normally faithful man who made a mistake and now regrets it.
- Do you think you can trust him? Even if it were only a first-time one-nighter, you have to consider the fact that when we “get away with something,” the fear of possible consequences is no longer a deterrent for that behavior. Are you willing to risk going through the pain again, not to mention going deeper into depression?
- How would staying with him affect your self-esteem and self-respect? If you can’t respect yourself and feel good about yourself, how can you work on a relationship? If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will respect you, either.
People stay in unhappy relationships for lots of reasons. For one, they think it’s better for the children, but how is it good to teach them that infidelity and misery are what marriage is all about? People fear being alone, but in choosing to stay in the dysfunctional relationship, they only guarantee that they won’t have a chance to find a good one.
People also fear the unknown, and after being with someone for a long time, they can’t imagine life without that person. However, when a person does things to hurt you, causing or worsening your depression, you have to accept the fact that you need to make changes in your life (sometimes scary ones) before things will get better.
Leaving an unfaithful partner hurts, but that pain will heal. Staying with an unfaithful partner guarantees that pain and depression will always be a part of your life.
Making such major changes in your life requires strength and certainty that you are doing what’s best for you (and your children). It would be wise to speak with a licensed therapist. She won’t tell you what to do, but having a professional, unbiased opinion, and someone to help you see the obvious, can be what you need to help you make the right decision.
Infidelity is an terribly painful thing to experience, but it can be a much-needed wake-up call. It can be the in-your-face, no-way-to-ignore-it thing that lets you know you need to let go of the pain and get on with your life. Along with the cheater, let go of the anger, the hate, and the bitterness, and love yourself enough to move on toward the happiness that awaits you.
**** This article was originally written for the Depression site on BellaOnline.com under the title Infidelity and Depression by the former Writer/Editor of that site, Kitten Kristine Jackson. ****