Many women – and men – have at one point in their lives been victims of infidelity. In fact, surveys say that more than 20% of married men and 15% of married women have had affairs. Does this validate the cliché ‘cheaters always cheat and liars always lie?’
Here are some collected opinions gathered from therapists and psychologists on whether or not a cheating spouse can turn around and never cheat again, or if it strengthens the notion that cheaters and liars never change.
“Research almost universally suggests that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of people in committed relationships, both men and women, cheat on their partner.” — Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW
The Cliché Is Biased. Once we expect that because he cheated once, he will always cheat, then we are belittling a person’s capacity to change for the better. Those who say this have perhaps never felt the guilt that comes after a one-night stand or a short-lived affair. The terrible feeling of having hurt your spouse and your kids has left me unable to sleep for weeks, and it’s the worst feeling ever,” said Tom, a husband who once was tempted to date her secretary while her wife was gone for a business trip. He claimed that it was the only time he was unfaithful and will never do it again.
Cheaters Have A Chance To Work On His Issues. Couple’s therapists have witnessed divorces that happen because of illicit affairs. They’ve also seen couples that decide to stay despite infidelity problems because they want to work things out. A therapist told the Huffington Post that a simple method of determining if your spouse will easily cheat again is if he confesses to his fault and takes full responsibility for what he did. This may happen spontaneously or after a few sessions of counseling. If he does this, they probably won’t cheat again. But if he continues to deny what happened and even gets angry if he is confronted, there’s a very slim chance for change from him.
“As I have observed the fallout from infidelity from the discovery throughout the lengthy process of healing, I have noticed that, even when couples are devoted to rising above adversity, facing their demons, keeping their hearts open, working through pain, grief, anxiety and loss, the process is incredibly difficult.” — Michele Weiner-Davis LCSW
If There Is No Remorse, Change May Not Be Possible. Hats off to spouses who would willingly sit it out in therapy for weeks. Obviously, they want their marriage to work, and they do love their partner. There are still many couples out there that would give anything to rebuild their marriage, and they can do that as long as they feel the remorse and guilt of hurting their partners. However, some simply brush the issue off after a few weeks of committing the infidelity. They want their partners to forget it quickly and may sometimes even blame their partner because they probably needed attention that their partner couldn’t give. When you hear that, you’re in for a serial cheating game. Give it up.
The Cheating Spouse May Be Motivated By The Hurt He Has Caused. This is possible for someone who isn’t used to cheating. He can’t believe that he was able to do that to his partner and his family, and he is very willing to make up for what he’s done. Guilt is an effective motivator for positive change. Perhaps your spouse had to be unfaithful for him to realize that he might lose everything. It is likened to a person who is charged with a DUI. He won’t promise to drink again unless he is detained for a night in jail and is forced to sleep on the floor.
The Betrayed Spouse Needs To Forgive. The cheating spouse maybe 100% sure that he won’t cheat again, but if the betrayed partner can’t forgive, there is no peaceful reconciliation. The mantra that cheaters always cheat and liars always lie alters a person’s capacity to realize that their partner is human, forgivable, and most of all, imperfect. Once the hurt spouse accepts this and opens his or her mind that marriage is precious and needs a second chance, then there is no second chance. But if he or she can move past it, the couple can definitely recover, heal, and be happy again.
“Essentially, rather than trying to control or punish a partner away from infidelity, it is more effective to reward and encourage their faithfulness and love.” — Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D.