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Should You Give a Cheater a Second Chance?

A Gut-Wrenching Decision


Second Chance
Photo: Color Day Production / The Image Bank / Getty Images
One of the most gut-wrenching decisions you may have to make is whether to give your cheating spouse a second chance. This decision is especially difficult when your spouse lied to you, manipulated you, made a fool out of you, and/or tried to cover up the affair.

But what if your spouse is usually reliable and dependable, regrets being unfaithful, promises to be faithful, and you do believe that the two of you love one another?

Every person has their line in the sand -- the one thing that is a deal breaker. Only you know what that line in the sand is for you.

Poll: How many chances should a cheating spouse get? Vote!

Zoe Ruderman suggested "five times to kick a cheater to the curb":
  • Having an affair with an ex.
  • Having a full-fledged affair.
  • Not apologizing.
  • Cheating early in your relationship.
  • Being a serial cheater.
  • Source: Zoe Ruderman. "He Cheated: Do You Take Him Back or Dump Him?" Cosmopolitan.com. 2011.

    Questions to Ask Yourself If You Are Considering Giving Your Spouse a Second Chance

    Before you give your spouse a second chance, ask yourself these questions:
    • Is this the first time your spouse has cheated on you?
    • Does your spouse understand the hurt he/she caused?
    • Does your spouse recognize the cheating as a problem?
    • Has your spouse accepted responsibility for being unfaithful?
    • Regardless of the reasons for the infidelity, will your spouse accept that changes are needed in his/her behavior?
    • Has your spouse apologized?
    • Do you believe your spouse is remorseful and truly regrets being unfaithful?
    • Will your spouse attend both marital and individual counseling?
    • Have all ties with the affair partner been severed? If the person is someone your spouse works with, have you discussed how your mate can keep the relationship on a business only basis?
    • Do you think you and your spouse can have a successful, joyful, long-lasting marriage?
    • Do you think you can ever trust your spouse again?
    • Do you think your marriage is worth saving? If yes, then why?
    • Do you think your spouse's past unfaithfulness will forever haunt your mind and heart?
    • Can you forgive your spouse?
    • Are you both willing to work on your marriage and learn how to resolve your issues and problems and fight fair?

    If you do decide to give your spouse a second chance, make sure your spouse knows that this is a one time opportunity. Just once. You will not forgive over and over. Say it clearly that there will be no more chances. It is important to emphasize that your forgiveness and willingness to give a second chance is not condoning the cheating behavior.

    For the Ones Getting the Second Chance

    If you are one of the fortunate ones who has a spouse willing to consider giving you a second chance, you must explain why you cheated and be apologetic, honest, and keep your promises. Accept that there will be questions about your commitment and whether you'll walk out again the next time you set your eyes on someone you like better.

    Read More: More Steps You Need to Take to Heal the Hurt and Mistrust in Your Marriage

    What Others Have to Say About Second Chances

    Terri Orbuch when deciding to give a second chance: "Don’t blame yourself. Your self-esteem and self-worth are not dependent on your partner’s behaviors. You can be a part of the solution or work to change the relationship but you are not the cause of the betrayal."
    Source: Terri Orbuch. "Should Cheaters Get a Second Chance?" FoxNews.com. 10/05/2012.

    Dr. Stephen Diamond: "When it comes to giving the straying offender a second (or third or fourth) pardon, where does one draw the line? The biggest problem with cheating on a spouse or significant other is not necessarily the sexual liaison itself, but rather the betrayal of trust it causes. This painful rupture of trust in many cases proves too much to get past ... Once can be considered a slip up. An aberration. Twice or more is a pattern. Why should the serial cheater be forgiven or provided a third, fourth or fifth chance? Source: Stephen Diamond. "When Partners Cheat: Who Deserves Second Chances?" PsychologyToday.com. 3/28/2010.

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