Life after cheating – rebuilding the trust
With stars in your eyes, you repeat the vows to love honour and most important 'forsaking all others' to be true to the one to whom you are pledging your life.
The cheating factor was never part of the mix, but your spouse has now introduced it into the union. Now faced with that reality, can the pieces be put back together again, can the incident be put behind forever and trust be restored?
Family and Religion reached out to guidance counsellor and Women Ministry co-director of the Old Harbour Church of God of Prophecy Eileen Osbourne to address the issue.
"This is a debatable question. It depends on the parties involved. Cheating is one of the most devastating things that can happen in a marriage. However, cheating does not have to end the marriage," she said.
Osbourne said for the marriage to regain its 'happily ever after' footing, both the cheater and the cheated have to make a conscious decision to keep it together.
"If it is a case where the cheater has made cheating a way of life, then there is no way that the marriage can produce any form of happiness. On the contrary, if the cheater has given up cheating, then there can be much hope for the marriage," she said.
If the decision is made to try again, Osbourne said the parties should remember that cheating erodes trust in the relationship - the cheated will lose trust in the cheater, while the cheater will become afraid that the trust will not be rebuilt and oftentimes lose confidence in himself or herself," she points out.
"Trust is a vital ingredient that helps to maintain a sound relationship. When the trust factor is missing, it will stop the flow of love. This, in turn, will hinder intimacy and cause stagnation and, ultimately, death to the relationship, therefore, if the couple decides to try again, they must acknowledge and bring to the fore the issue of trust," she said, adding that they should also avoid playing the 'blame game'.
The guilty party, she said, should take responsibility and apologise, while the spouse should be prepared and willing to forgive.
"The unfaithful spouse should exercise understanding of the emotional pain the issue has caused and give his or her spouse time to heal," said Osbourne.
She also shared that it would help to bring an objective third party into the mix to serve as an accountability partner to the couple.
With all the best of intentions, insecurity will rear its head and when this happens, the solution for Osbourne is, for the hurt party to give the cheater the benefit of the doubt.
"In other words, they should not always be looking and expecting them to cheat again. If a person cheats once, it does not mean that the trend will continue. Continual suspicion can drive away the spouse," is the warning given by her.
To help stave off some of the injured party's insecurities, she said the partner who breached the trust should make every effort to help the other party to trust again by being honest and open.
Accepting that your partner has cheated is hard, but it can be an even greater challenge if a child is brought into the mix. This, according to Osbourne, will take an even greater amount of determination to patch back the relationship.
"One of the best ways to diffuse constant reminders of the unfaithfulness of a spouse is to forgive the spouse and love the child, bearing in mind that the child is innocent," she said.
Osbourne said that any child who comes into this world, despite the circumstances, should be accepted as God's wonderful creation.
"How the child was conceived should be the lesser issue and the welfare of the child should be the greater concern."