Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater?

Is it possible for a couple to overcome the betrayal of a cheating spouse and repair broken trust in a marriage?

For many, it’s a black-and-white world, and the question above may show us how cheating is viewed in that world. It’s certainly true that many marriages end because of that belief. Infidelity is one of the most hurtful, damaging and emotional rule-breaking acts that can happen in a marriage — a betrayal of a couple’s vows that is hard for many to get past.

But is it true? Is it impossible for a cheating spouse to change and establish trust once again? No, not impossible. If a couple is willing to look beyond the surface, beyond what our society deems right and wrong, they can make their way back to a loving and trustful marriage if they both desire it. But it also depends on a willingness to explore and discover the real reason, or purpose, behind a spouse cheating in the first place.

According to Jay Kent-Ferraro, Ph.D, in his article published in Psychology Today, “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater … Maybe Not,” the psychology of infidelity is quite complex and Kent-Ferraro believes “people don’t do anything without a reason for doing it.” He explains to someone who has suffered the betrayal of infidelity that “your task is to become your own personal psychologist and ask the right questions about the right issues to arrive at your own truth about keeping yourself safe in a relationship with someone who has betrayed you.”

He further breaks down the different types of affairs into which ones may be responsive to efforts to mend the damaged relationship, and which ones are truly lost causes. But, the first and biggest step is to move past the intense emotions that swing back and forth between despair and rage, the betrayal and deception that wreaks havoc upon the hearts and minds. If a couple can uncover the unmet needs that have undermined their relationship to the point of betrayal, they may begin to understand this complex, and all too common, phenomenon.

This isn’t an easy task. The damage and hurt caused by infidelity is real, no matter the reasons behind it. Often the relationship was in serious trouble before the affair, and for many, there just won’t be any going back; once the trust is broken, the will to stay married is gone, too.  But, for some, infidelity is the wake up call to address each other’s unmet needs, an opportunity to respond and grow together. The hard work of deeper examination can pay off with a more fulfilling marriage.