Sometimes we stay because we don’t know we are being abused. Sensitive people (and we who were chumped, most often are sensitive people) may be feeling unwell for a long time without having the faintest whiff of something fishy. We may be anxious, depressed, or even physically ill. Some of us are genuinely happy and clueless. The reality that rips our life apart and our heart from the chest comes as a shock.
So now we are faced with choices to make. How to react, what to think, is it better to walk out or let the cheater walk out, or is the relationship salvageable? Well-meaning friends, relatives, church members and pony club mommas all chip in with their advice.
My advice is not to put too much weight in any of their opinions if they have not walked in your shoes and experienced something similar. Even if they have, it’s your life and your decisions to make. You have to decide what is acceptable to you and draw your own boundaries.
Here is a list of common reasons why people stay in an abusive marriage:
1. They think the cheater is reacting to having a bad time and feeling bad but they are really a good person who can be made to see the error of their ways.
Why it’s wrong: If the cheater chose to repeatedly sleaze around behind your back and lie about it for weeks / months / years then she or he has been acting very deliberately. And he knows it’s wrong, because why else hide it from you?
2. The think marriage is sacred and their church pressures to “forgive” and keep the marriage together.
Why it’s wrong: Yes, marriage is serious and to me it is sacred. Obviously it isn’t for the cheater. He broke the marriage bond of two becoming one flesh, by becoming one flesh with a third person. And that is also physical abuse in addition to being mental abuse. He was intimate with the town bicycle and then came to our marital bed. It’s also noteworthy that forgiveness is a separate thing from reconciliating or staying married. You can forgive, which to me means that I don’t harbor ill will towards him but give him over to God to deal with. It doesn’t mean that I stay around for more abuse. More about biblical divorce on a separate post as it is a large issue by itself.
3. Divorce is tough on the kids.
Why its’ wrong: Kids are not stupid, and if they take after you, they are probably sensitive. They may well feel bad without knowing why. If you don’t tell the kids about what your spouse has done, you are lying to them by omission and not living honestly. You become an accomplice in his/her wrong doings. If you tell them or they find out in another way, and you still stay, the kids will get a twisted idea about how relationships work. I do not want my daughter to think that it’s a woman’s place to keep taking infidelity and abandonment and gloss over his criminal activities. That is insincere as it is contrary to my values. The kids deserve the truth, told in a way that is appropriate for their age, without going into details. Just like you deserve the truth in order to make decisions for yourself.
4. Losing money or fear of not making it on your own financially.
Why it’s wrong: You are not for sale, your integrity is not for sale. Sometimes it is necessary to perhaps wait a while if your situation is truly sucky financially. You can still start making preparations to leave. But to stay married because you will lose half of your assets, or if you are the spouse making very little dues to having stayed at home with kids or being ill or something – it’s not worth it. It is soul killing.
I stayed at home with our daughter, who has mild neuropsychiatric symptoms and was very clingy from early on. It was a choice that was natural and we both thought it was the best for her. I’m chronically ill, AND my education is in the fine arts. I could work from home a little as time allowed. But I’m basically unemployable (heck, I wouldn’t hire myself knowing my health condition!) My husband however makes a lot of money. How it all works out for me, is a subject I will be writing about in this blog.
5. Fear of being alone for the rest of your life.
Why it’s wrong: You don’t know what will happen. Even if you stay married, you may be suddenly widowed. (As is it is, MANY chumped and/or dumped spouses say that it would have been much easier to be widowed. You would have at least got to keep the good memories. Now your memories and sense of personal history has been destroyed, and you may have to be in contact with the cheater because you have kids together.)
You can be by yourself and alone and still not lonely. Those are not the same thing. You still have your children, family friends, pets. If you truly have no-one, you can make new friends. And who knows, maybe you will one day be buying eggs to bake a cake and you bump into a person and while he helps you clean the broken eggs and salvage the rest, he asks you on a date. It could happen.
Don’t take any more abuse. Give yourself a chance. Nobody deserves abuse, and there is no ifs and buts about it, infidelity is physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Lying is emotional abuse, and all cheaters are also liars, as it is impossible to cheat without lying. There may be other kind of domestic abuse going on as well.
Don’t stay for more soul rape.