Why Infidelity Leads To Divorce For Some Couples, But Not All

Why infidelity leads to divorce for some couples, but not others

Each couple dealing with infidelity has 3 options for how they will move forward.

Discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful is horrifying and confusing. You search for explanations for how your partner could have made the choice to betray you.

You wonder if there’s something wrong with you. Or maybe there’s something wrong with them. Or maybe there’s something wrong with both of you. Or maybe there’s something evil about the person your spouse had the affair with. Or …

As your thoughts roll around and around ceaselessly, so do your emotions as you try again and again to make sense of things now that trust has been broken.

Why infidelity leads to divorce for some couples and not others is a necessary question to answer when you’re dealing with infidelity in your own relationship.

For some couples, infidelity means their relationship is over. For others, they continue on as if nothing happened. And still others emerge from the trauma of infidelity stronger and happier together than ever before.

What are the differences between these groups?

There are three different reasons why couples divorce after the discovery of an affair:

  1. One of the spouses had already decided to divorce before the infidelity was brought to light.
  2. The hurt spouse can’t move past the anger and betrayal.
  3. The marriage is too far gone and the spouses don’t care enough to put in the effort to repair and reinvent their relationship.

For the couples who choose to continue on with more or less the way things are do so because they believe the alternatives are much less desirable.

These couples have a marriage and/or lifestyle that is easier to deal with than divorce or putting in the effort required to reinvent their marriage.

The final group of couples, those who choose to invest in reinventing their marriage, are a determined group of individuals.

Each of these spouses must make the decision to save the marriage and expect to do their part to make their decision a reality. This expectation is the key here. It indicates that each partner is willing to take responsibility for their part in how they got to the point where one of them strayed and in how they will move forward to reinvent their relationship.

According to Lynda Spann, there are 9 other steps these determined couples must take to prepare to reinvent their relationship:

  1. Promptly end the affair.Ending the extra-marital relationship is critical for both spouses because it removes the unnecessary distraction. With the distraction removed, it’s so much easier to focus on making things better between them.
  2. Accept that you’ll be on an emotional roller-coaster for a while.Exposure of an affair is traumatic. For the hurt spouse, they will deal with coming to terms with the betrayal. For the straying spouse, they will deal with the guilt of causing their spouse so much pain.
  3. Have open conversations about the affair.These conversations are about clearing the air and coming clean so there are no unexpected surprises that come to light later. Because of the emotional roller-coaster, it’s normal for the conversations to happen multiple times as the hurt spouse tries to make sense of and come to terms with what they’re hearing.
  4. Show genuine remorse and empathy if you’re the betrayer.The only way for your spouse to begin healing so they can do their part to reinvent your marriage is if you can understand the pain you’ve caused them and express regret for the choices you made in having the affair.
  5. Work toward forgiveness or acceptance if you’re the betrayed.There’s a big difference between forgiving or accepting and condoning or forgetting. You forgive and accept so you’re not haunted by the betrayal. But you remember what happened so you can do your part to prevent it from happening again.
  6. Spend more time together.Your relationship is in dire need of attention. So are you and so is your spouse. Agree to start spending more time together focusing on each other instead of the kids, or work, or TV, or your cell phones. The key here is to not spend all of your time together talking about the infidelity, but to enjoy spending time together.
  7. Amp up on the reassurance that you want to be in this relationship.Because of the chaos the affair has had on the security of your marriage, it’s vital that you each do whatever it takes to reassure your spouse that you want to remain in your marriage because you still like and love them. It’s OK to ask for reassurance when you need it, but be sure you do so without making accusations.
  8. Tell each other everything from now on.Commit to complete honesty and transparency from now on – no exceptions!
  9. Find a helping professional who has experience with infidelity recovery.Healing from an affair is a difficult process. You’ll have much greater odds of success if you get help from an experienced professional.

Understanding why infidelity leads to divorce for some and not others is an important piece of deciding how you will deal with the infidelity in your own marriage.

The knowledge can help calm some of the trauma. And regardless of how you and your spouse decide to proceed through the chaotic repercussions of the infidelity. Knowing what the motivation is behind each of the three possible paths forward will help you make the best decision for you. 

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach helping people just like you who want support in figuring out if their marriage can or should be saved. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more ideas about how to deal with your spouse’s (or your) affair? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.

What Life After Divorce With A Baby Is REALLY Like

Mom holds baby on lap while working at computer as she deals with what life after divorce with a baby is really like.

5 tips to help you make a tough situation more manageable (and help your baby get through it too).

Divorce is difficult no matter what the circumstances. But when your divorce happens while you have an infant life gets really tough.

Tough, but not unmanageable.

Life after divorce with a baby has a unique set of challenges not only for you and your ex, but for your baby too.

Let’s start with some of the “life after divorce with a baby” challenges you and your former spouse face.

You will never feel like a “normal” family. No matter how your lives evolve, you’ll never feel like the “normal” nuclear family because you’re not. And that’s perfectly OK. In fact, you might call it the new normal because less than 50% of U.S. kids grow up in a “normal” nuclear family.

You will feel frustrated by the lack of control. When your ex has the baby, you’ll hate that they get to spend time with the baby and you’ll worry about your ex’s parenting skills. The only way to deal with your frustration is by learning to trust your ex with your precious child and that can be really difficult when you’re still healing from your divorce.

You will miss some of your baby’s milestones. No parent wants to miss any of their baby’s milestones, but your post-divorce life will almost absolutely necessitate that you will. Instead of being able to stay at home with your infant, you’ll be at work. Or instead of being home with you, your baby could be with their other parent when they have a milestone moment.

You will still need to interact regularly with your ex. This is true for every parent that divorces, but when you divorce while your child is a baby the communication is typically greater because you’re both getting used to being parents to this little one.

You will be the only parent when your baby is with you. When the baby cries in the middle of the night, you won’t be able to roll over and ask your spouse to check on the baby for you. You will be it – the parent.

You will be afraid of a step parent taking your place. EVERY parent of young children fears their ex’s new partner coming in and taking their place in their child’s life. But so long as you develop a strong bond with your baby, you will always be your child’s parent.

Your baby will have challenges with their life after divorce too.

They will experience pain when their routine is disrupted. Babies do best with a consistent routine. But divorce throws routine out the window because it regularly introduces new experiences and disruptions. Probably the largest disruption from your baby’s point of view is not being with both parents daily.

They will have difficulty thriving until they are in a peaceful and predictable environment again. Divorce creates chaos in your emotional state and in your physical environment. And your precious baby is aware of the chaos. They can feel your emotions and responses. When you’re upset, so is your baby.

They will have difficulty eating and sleeping until they feel safe again. Babies show they’re upset by being tense and difficult. They may develop colic, cry excessively, resist being soothed, or even lose interest in the world around them.

To help you and your baby get through this difficult time, you and your ex need to make the resolution of being the best parents you can be.

5 tips for you and your ex to help your baby (and the two of you) deal with life after divorce:

  1. Support each other as parents.Supporting each other doesn’t mean that you agree all the time on anything except the fact that you love your baby. And it’s for the love of your precious child that you will choose to help each other be the best parent possible.
  2. Communicate regularly.
    This communication isn’t just the normal details required to co-parent. This communication includes sharing the amazing moments you have with your baby with your ex. So send pictures of moments that you don’t want to forget and that you know your co-parent would love to see too.
  3. Keep all arguments away from your baby.
    Show each other respect when you’re with your baby. Remember that your baby mirrors your emotions. If you’re upset, they’ll be upset too. It’s a whole lot harder for you to calm yourself down when you have a crying baby to comfort. And it’s a whole lot harder to comfort a crying baby when you’re upset.
  4. Introduce new care givers carefully.
    Babies thrive when they have a regular routine. Having new people in their lives can be upsetting to them. So, slowly introducing new care givers into your baby’s life will be best for them (and for you).
  5. Build strong bonds with your baby.
    Your infant needs to know they can trust each of you so they can bond with both of you. That means when you are with your child that you need to respond quickly with predictability, sensitivity, and love when they cry out or have a problem.

Admittedly, these five tips are broad guidelines to help you be the best parent possible. Things will come up that make following these tips difficult. When that happens, don’t hesitate and reach out to family, friends, or a helping professional for support and get back to parenting within the guidelines as soon as possible.

Understanding the challenges of post-divorce life with a baby is just the starting point of making this tough situation manageable. It’s only by you and your ex committing to being the best parents you can be that your baby will make it through this difficult transition know that s/he is deeply loved by both of his/her parents.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in learning how to raise great kids after a divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session. 

Looking for more tips navigating your post-divorce life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.

How To Discuss Co-Parenting Issues Without Losing Your Cool

This father learned how to discuss co-parenting issues without losing his cool for his son’s sake.

Use these 5 tips and create a collaborative co-parenting relationship – for your kids’ sake.

Co-parenting is tough. Somehow, you’re supposed to suddenly change how you think about your former spouse. You’re supposed to be emotionless toward them. You’re supposed to see them as a business partner in the business of raising your child(ren) and not as the person you thought you’d happily spend the rest of your life with.

Making this transition is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do because it requires that you heal from your divorce and deal with your grief while you figure out how to co-parent.

Talk about a Herculean task!

With all of this pressure to heal and put your life back together going on at the same time you’re learning how to co-parent, it’s natural that you and your co-parent are going to run into trouble communicating now and again.

So, learning how to discuss co-parenting problems when they arise and without the discussion turning into a battle is one of the most important skill you can develop as you create your new life after divorce.

These 5 tips will help you discuss any co-parenting issues that arise without losing your cool:

  1. Co-parenting is about the kids.Regardless of the circumstances that led to the end of your marriage, you and your former spouse still have at least one thing in common. You both want to raise happy, healthy children who become happy, healthy, and contributing adults.The only way you will both achieve your goal is to focus on it and put the past behind you. There’s no reason to talk about your past relationship if it inflames discord.Discord takes your focus off your goal of working together to help your children grow into amazing people.

    There’s also no reason to take your fears, concerns, and/or anger about the future out on each other because doing so makes it impossible for you to work together (at least in that moment) to do your best parenting work.

    (There are some co-parents who don’t share this common goal. Luckily, it’s not typical. But if this is your situation, you need a bit different guidance for co-parenting with a toxic ex.)

  2. Be objective about issues that arise.The less emotional and more objective you can be when discussing any co-parenting problems that arise, the more likely it is that you’ll reach a resolution that works for both of you.When you need to talk about issues with your co-parent, it can help to imagine that you’re having a business meeting with them.During a typical business meeting, the group works together to resolve problems. And this is exactly what you need to do when a problem arises involving your child(ren).
  3. Exchange information respectfully, completely, and succinctly.
    This means that regardless of the problem you’re facing together that you avoid blaming each other, keep your emotions in check, be as informative as possible, and as direct as possible in relaying the information.

    It’s only by laying out all the facts as clearly and respectfully as possible that you’ll create an atmosphere that encourages collaboration in finding a solution. And solutions are what you want so you can both help your child(ren) be great.

  4. Listen calmly when your co-parent speaks.You and your co-parent are a team with the same goal of raising your amazing kid(s). What’s great about working in a team to achieve a goal is that you each bring different skills and perspectives.Respect your co-parent’s skills and perspectives. Use them to your child(ren)’s best advantage by listening to your co-parent’s views and ideas about how to resolve the problems you face together.The only way to do this is by being completely present when your co-parent speaks and not just listening closely enough to come up with what you want to say next.
  5. Set the intention of having a compassionate and supportive co-parenting relationship.You’ve probably heard the quote by Esther Jno-Charles, “What you focus on expands. So focus on what you want, not what you do not want.”Well, it definitely holds true for co-parenting relationships too. Keep working toward having a great working relationship with your co-parent – not for your sake, but for your child(ren)’s.Kids from divorced families do best when they have supportive, loving parents who get along and allow them to be kids.

These 5 tips are the basics for learning how to discuss co-parenting problems without losing your cool.

They’re a great place to start and can form the basis of an amazing working relationship with your co-parent.

And, just like with any new skill, you will need time and practice to master these tips.

That means you’ll make mistakes along the way no matter how good your intentions are. But you can definitely recover from any mistake you make. And if you figure out how you got off track, you can even prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Also keep in mind that your co-parent is going through this big transition in their relationship with you too. And that means they’ll also make mistakes.

Regardless of any mistakes either of you make along the way in making the transition from being married with children to being co-parents, you will make it through. Keep your focus on being great parents and you will find it’s easier and easier to keep your cool when discussing any co-parenting problems that arise.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in learning how to raise great kids after a divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more tips about raising incredible kids after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Coparenting.


3 Tips For Raising An INCREDIBLE Child, Even If Your Ex Sucks

Father and son playing in the grass while applying the 3 tips for raising an incredible child even if your ex sucks.

How to give them what they need – even when they’re not with you.

Kids need love, emotional support, consistent discipline, and structure to thrive. And you definitely want your child to thrive.

Yet, when you divorce, your ability to meet all of your child’s needs without fail becomes impossible – and not because of all the turmoil you’re dealing with. (Although, that does play a part.)

The real reason why you will never ever be able to meet all of your kid’s needs is because your ex, their other parent, has your child part of the time. And it’s your ex’s job to meet your child’s needs when they have your kid with them.

Yes, even if your ex sucks from your perspective, it’s still their responsibility to care for your child when they are together.

Of course, if your child suffers neglect or abuse when your ex is caring for them, then you do need to step in immediately. But thankfully, that’s not the norm.

When you can’t be 100% sure of what’s happening when the horrible person you were married to has your child, it’s easy to fall prey to your fears that your divorce will destroy your kid.

But, you do have the power to raise an incredible child despite what your ex does when your child is with them … if you follow these three tips:

  1. Take care of yourself.
    When your child is with you, you’re it. You are the one who is there to meet their needs, so you need to be at your best. And the only way you can do that is if you take care of yourself.Practically speaking, divorce upsets your life and your finances. And this upset puts a huge strain on you. Getting a handle on both your finances and your living situation so you can feel more safe and secure will go a very long way toward caring for yourself (and your child).

    But you also need to heal emotionally from your divorce as quickly and completely as you can.

    By doing so, you’ll minimize your distraction, stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil which all means you’ll be capable of being fully present for your child instead of just going through the motions.

    And the big upside to this is that the better you feel and the more present you can be with your child, the less likely it is that they’ll have significant behavioral problems as a result of the divorce.

    Caring for yourself also means that you’ll avoid feeling guilty and obsessing.

    There’s no reason to feel guilty for the situation your kid is in now with having two homes – even if the home you provide is more modest than the home your ex provides. Feeling guilty just diminishes your ability to parent and opens up the possibility that your child will manipulate you into doing what they want instead of what you know is best.

    There’s also no reason to obsess over things you can’t control.

    You can’t control the weather and you can’t control what your ex does. Allow yourself to disconnect from their behavior and not get drawn into the drama.

    When you do disconnect and truly release the things you can’t control, you’ll experience an incredible sense of freedom and have a whole lot more energy for dealing with the things you can control which includes doing your part in raising an amazing kid.

  2. Get support.
    Raising a child is almost impossible to do all on your own. It really does take a village.So don’t try to do it all on your own.

    Lean on others for support. Find other single parents you can count on and be there for them too. Ask your family for their help. Find helping professionals when you need them. You deserve to surround yourself with help and guidance so you can be a great parent.

    One of the traps that many single parents fall into is leaning on their child for support. This is a horrible situation to put your child in.

    Your child needs the freedom to be a child – no matter how mature they seem. Sharing your adult concerns about your life or your ex with your kid (even if they are teenagers) is never appropriate.

  3. Be the best parent you can be.You already know there are so many things that go into being a great parent regardless of your marital status. Parenting is a big responsibility!You might be tempted to slide on things now that you wouldn’t have dreamed of sliding on when you were married.This might be because you have a nagging sense of guilt about not raising your kid in an intact family.To add to that, being a single parent adds a bit of a twist to the whole parenting thing. So, here are a few reminders of what being “the best parent you can be” means now:

    Encourage your child to behave well. You can do this by setting a good example, creating clear rules, being consistent with your expectations and your actions, providing appropriate discipline (remember to choose your battles), and praising your child when they do behave well.

    – Focus on your child. Spend time alone with them and make the most of every-day moments. Be genuinely interested in their lives and what’s important to them.

    Paying positive attention to them will help them to cope with all the changes they’re experiencing and when they’re coping well, you’ve got another opportunity to praise them.

    And if you have more than one child, be sure that you spend alone time with each of them (as age allows).

    Remember that you are the boss in your home and don’t allow anyone else to undermine your authority. This includes your child who may attempt to guilt you into doing things like their other parent does.

    – Avoid all negativity about their other parent. Your child knows they are just like you in some ways and just like your ex in others. If you are negative about their other parent, they hear your negativity as an indictment of them too.

    You’ll also need to send positive images about the opposite sex. Your child deserves to know that gender has zero bearing on how an individual chooses to behave.

Being a parent is challenging. Being a single parent is more challenging. And being a single parent with an ex who isn’t a great parent is the worst.

However, by using these three tips every single day, you’ll be able to not only meet your child’s needs when they’re with you, but also extend your influence into their life when they’re not.

And simply by you providing your love, emotional support, consistent discipline, and structure your child will thrive and be incredible – no matter how despicable their other parent is.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in learning how to raise great kids after a divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

Looking for more tips about raising incredible kids after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Coparenting.

This article originally appeared at YourTango.

4 Simple Tips For Preventing Divorce

Although there are no guarantees, these tips could make all the difference.

Every day people tell me stories of their struggles with learning that their spouse wants a divorce (or is at least strongly considering it). These people struggle because divorce is the last thing they want.

They know that although it takes two people to decide to get married, it only takes one to decide to divorce and that they desperately want to change their spouse’s mind. And so they ask me, “How can I save my marriage?”

The first thing I do when these people ask me for help is to let them know that the only way to have a shot at fixing things is to look at themselves – not their spouse – and get into action. Then I share the fact that even if they do get into action and follow my advice perfectly, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to save their marriage. Finally, I tell them that if they don’t at least try, they’re almost certainly headed for divorce.

And for those people, like you, who are brave enough to look at themselves and do their absolute best to save their marriage, I give them the following advice.

  1. Focus on what you want. Obviously, you want to prevent your spouse from divorcing you. But the thing is you need to focus so strongly on this goal that you skip the pity party, the blame game, and the begging and pleading that your mate reconsider. Focusing on what you want means that you’re going to be the best and most positive person you can be. Because when you’re that person, you’re at your most persuasive and desirable.
  2. Get clear about the issues. Remember all the negative things your spouse has said about you and your marriage in the past? It’s time to dredge them up, but not as accusations or painful memories. You’re remembering them because they hold the beginnings of understanding exactly what isn’t working for your spouse. Continue working on these memories until you can come up with a factual list of what you believe your mate sees as the problems in your marriage. After you’ve created your factual list, in a dispassionate yet confident way share the list with your spouse to verify that you correctly understand the issues. Once you understand the issues you’ll be able to start addressing them – either on your own or with the help of a professional.
  3. Behave as though you deeply love your spouse. Here’s a list of things to do that make marriages last.
    • Take care of yourself. This means both your appearance and your health.
    • Connect lovingly with your spouse every day.
    • Compliment your spouse – both privately and publicly.
    • Treat them as they want to be treated and not how you want to be treated.
    • Respect your marriage vows and remain faithful.
    • Do fun things together.
    • Spend time apart to do the things you enjoy, but your spouse doesn’t enjoy.
    • Be friends.
    • Be willing to discuss the tough stuff – money and sex.
  4. Address the old hurts. If your spouse is holding on to grudges or resentments, you need to address them because they’re contributing to your spouse’s desire to divorce. But don’t stop there, just pause. The only way to completely get your marriage back on track is to air your grudges and resentments too so they don’t get in the way either. Just hold off on resolving these until you’ve addressed all of your spouse’s old hurts.

As you’ve read these tips, you’ve probably realized that none of them will be especially easy to implement. They will be a lot of work – all without a guarantee that your spouse will want to stay.

But here’s the thing, if you don’t try, you’ll have to live with the uncertainty of whether you could have prevented your divorce. And you deserve to know that you did everything you could to turn things around.

(And even if you can’t prevent your spouse from becoming your ex, there is a consolation prize for doing all this work. You’ll be in a much healthier and better position to make it through your divorce.)

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who want to save their marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

Looking for more tips on dealing with a difficult marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.

This article originally appeared on DivorceForce.