Moving Past Spousal Infidelity in Post-Divorce Relationships

  • Spouses cheat for a variety of reasons.
  • Infidelity does not play a direct factor in divorce proceedings.
  • Trust is necessary in any post-divorce relationship.

"You were not the one playing fast and loose with other people’s feelings, and you should not feel guilty that the chance you took in love and marriage did not pay off."

You, as a married or formerly married individual, already know the story. Guy meets girl. Guy and girl fall in love. Guy and girl get married. Girl cheats on guy, or guy cheats on girl. Guy and girl get divorced.

It’s unfortunate that by modern standards, this tale is sadly as old as time, but for those that were cheated on, it’s more than just a scenario. It’s their reality. It’s something that going to take time to understand, and it’s something that they are going to have to live with in future relationships and learn to get past.

While infidelity has become utilized modern means like Ashley Madison, it is by no means socially acceptable behavior in a relationship. As difficult as it is to reconcile the estimated 37 million users of the site, according to fivethirtyeight, it is not necessarily indicative of every relationship and every marriage.

Why do people cheat?

Many have speculated what leads individuals to cheat. Psychology Today cites a lack of sexual satisfaction in their primary relationship, a desire for additional sexual encounters, lack of emotional satisfaction in their primary relationship, a desire for emotional validation from someone else, falling out of love with their partner, falling in love with someone new, a desire for revenge against a perceived wrong, and curiosity and a desire for new experiences, as potential reasons for a spouse to be unfaithful.

The Huffington Post cited feelings of unappreciation, neglect or being ignored, craving intimacy,  boredom, loneliness, never feeling loved, and having an intimacy disorder caused by past trauma, as reasons for why women, in particular, cheat in relationships.

Infidelity and divorce

Many feel that they can bring infidelity into their divorce proceedings, and it will improve their case. For the most part, that is not the case.

However, it can make an impact in the dissipation of assets and in custody and parenting time. Through the act of substantiating a marital waste claim in proving that the spouse used marital assets to benefit another person, dissipation might be proven, causing a deviation from 50/50 split of marital assets. However, be aware that there is a high burden of proof required in substantiating that claim.

Custody and parenting time can be swayed, if the soon-to-be ex-spouse in question is introducing the person that they cheated on you with to the children, forcing the courts to take into account what type of impact this person and their background would have on the children. If this individual poses a safety threat, not only will that be taken into consideration, but how this makes the judgement of the parent in this dangerous relationship will be reassessed as well.

Post-divorce relationships

Because of how exposed infidelity subsequently engages the divorce process, the reasons for a spouse’s infidelity are often unreconciled, leaving many to project the lack of trust that they feel in new relationships.

They find themselves eager to enter a new relationship to prove to their ex-spouse that are desirable and they are worth it, but they sometimes forget to take themselves, as well as the new partner, into consideration.

Stay you

The number one goal in a relationship should be that you can say that you’re proud of who you are in the relationship, according to Psychology Today. You should be able to evaluate yourself and see if you were proud of who you were when you were in the marriage, and if you were the one to stay faithful, you should not be the one with regrets in your decision-making.

You were not the one playing fast and loose with other people’s feelings, and you should not feel guilty that the chance you took in love and marriage did not pay off. You are not the only person who thought this person was someone that they weren’t. Your ex-spouse has to explain themselves every single time someone asks what happened to their marriage, causing others to reassess their opinion on the individual.

In terms of reassessment, you also have to be clear with your own intentions in any relationship moving forward. Have you established a level of trust with this person before entering the relationship? Are you repeating habits? Have you developed a pattern? In an effort to avoid being labeled negatively, have you changed who you are, in order to avoid being cheated on?

These are all questions that you need to ask yourself. You need to maintain who you are, even after an ex-spouse cheats on you and you experience a divorce. That being said, maintaining who you are does not mean you are not learning from your past experiences.

While emotionally taxing, these experiences have given you perspective on what to look for and what not to look for in post-divorce relationships. You are able to see the traps that may exist and can enter healthier, more functional relationships moving forward.

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