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7 Things To Consider If You’re Married And Cheating

You probably didn’t set out to cheat. Few cheaters do. But somewhere along the line you got tired of holding up your end of the deal, or you simply let your guard down. And now you’re married and cheating. 

Perhaps you’re half-delirious from the euphoria of newness. Perhaps you’re racked with guilt but in over your head.

Wherever you are, one thing’s for sure: you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube. It may be too late to change what you’ve already done. But it’s not too late to decide what you’re going to do going forward.

Here are 7 things to consider if you’re married and cheating:

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  1. Carrying on two relationships is exhausting.

    Relationships are work. No surprise there.

    Love and commitment involve sacrifice. And their endurance is predicated on devotion to the highest good of one’s partner and the relationship.

    Not always easy, especially when the duties of life become mundane and you’re convinced there are no more corners to examine in your marriage.

    But the lure to infidelity is, at least in part, a forgetting of that.

    New relationships are exciting, energizing, magical. The new relationship energy (NRE) that heralds in longing for a sustained relationship is invigorating for a reason. It allows you to see all the good in a prospect while overlooking the negative.

    This kind of energy, however, isn’t sustainable. In fact, it’s exhausting in its own right.

    If you’re married and cheating, you may have the juxtaposition of “comfortable” and “exciting.” But you will also have the constant work of trying to keep two relationships in play and separate.

    Keeping your stories straight. Covering your lies. Trying to be two places at once. Dealing with inevitable discontent and arguments. Holding down a job. Being a parent. Having no time to yourself.

    You will inevitably reach a breaking point – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial. And no amount of NRE will be enough to prevent it.
  2. Having an affair is isolating.

    If you’re married and cheating, your entire life is about secrecy. You’ve built a bubble of fantasy around yourself and your affair partner. And no one else is allowed in.

    That’s the nature of the beast and the price of all that “freedom” you believe you’re experiencing with someone new. You are anything but free.

    You can’t be in the open with “the other person.” Sometimes you can’t be fully in the open with your own spouse, as you might be spotted by someone who has seen you with your affair partner.

    You’re alone with your thoughts, alone with your guilt, alone with your reality. You can’t tell your spouse about this other person, and your affair partner certainly doesn’t want to hear about your spouse.

    The irony? You may have opened yourself to cheating because you felt lonely in your marriage. But the secrecy of infidelity is far more isolating and lonely.
  3. You’re not as good at hiding as you think you are.

    You may think you can pull it off. Get through this one-night tryst, then figure things out as you go.

    But no one can be two places at once or fulfill two relationships at once.

    Covering your lies also means you will have to be evasive and/or passive-aggressive. Your spouse will eventually pick up on the signs of your cheating, if not by full discovery, then by the accumulation of “a thousand little things.”
  4. Your children will suffer…possibly forever.

    Who does infidelity affect? may sound like a rhetorical question. However, while the initial impulse is to focus on the betrayed spouse, there are other victims who suffer greatly from infidelity. Children pick up on everything. They don’t have the cognitive or communicative skills to communicate complex, adult issues. But they sense everything at a deep level and build neural connections that define their perception of the world as they mature.

    The anchor in a child’s life is the nuclear family. And any disruption in the family, even if the family remains intact, can lead to immediate and long-term consequences for the child.

    Anger, aggression, outbursts, academic decline, depression, trust issues, confusion over the meaning of family, even self-blame and difficulty in future relationships. Your children will be a stark reflection of the consequences of your cheating.
  5. The chances of you and your affair partner ending up together are very low.

    Some statistics say only about 25% of cheaters leave their spouses for affair partners. If both affair partners are married, that number is even lower.

    Even if you do end up divorcing as the result of your affair, the likelihood that you will end up marrying your affair partner is only about 3-5%.

    Not only are second marriages up against discouraging odds of survival, but those that start as affairs have even more odds stacked against them.

    First of all, you will no longer be tucked away in your “fantasy bubble.” You will be out in the open, exposed to the world around you, with all its temptations, vulnerabilities, and judgments.

    Sound familiar?

    Yes, you will be back into the “work” of relationship and the mundaneness of “real life.” The success of your marriage, just like that of your first marriage, will be dependent on what you give, not just on what you get.

    And the two of you will always know that your relationship started as an affair. The trust that is the cornerstone of commitment will come at a higher price this time around…assuming you are able to achieve it.
  6. You may cause lasting damage to your self-esteem and self-worth.

    Concern for a person recovering from infidelity is usually reserved for the betrayed spouse.

    But what about how cheating affects the cheater?

    Your marriage may survive. It may not. Your spouse may even move on from the affair (probably with a lot of help).

    But you will have to live with the knowledge that you violated your own values and your own integrity.

    Even if your marriage survives and you learn from your mistakes, you may always feel the denigrating reminder of not living up to who you claim to be.
  7. If you divorce because of your infidelity, you could be held accountable for money spent on your affair.

    No-fault divorce may be the norm in the US. But that doesn’t mean your cheating can’t affect you at divorce time if your marriage doesn’t survive.

    In Texas, for example, the judge in your divorce case can choose to lower your alimony (if otherwise warranted) or mandate the return of money spent on the affair.

The consequences of infidelity are pervasive. Even a singular departure from conscience can drop like a stone in still water, creating ripples through generations of lives.

If you’re married and cheating, the time to consider the repercussions of your choice is now. 

Where will your next choice lead you?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I work with individuals struggling with how to get over resentment after an affair. 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 information about the repercussions of being married and cheating? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.

Dr. Karen Finn

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