If your husband cheated on you, I suppose you would leave, right? What if your friend’s husband cheated on her, would you tell her to leave? It does a disservice to our women friends when we tell her to leave her husband at the first sign of infedility, when there are other things to consider before making such a big decision. Everyone’s situation is unique and may be more complex than just simply packing a bag and walking away. It is not our job, to scorn our friends for staying with a cheater, but to support her in whatever decision she feels is right for her. If she trusts you enough to share such intimate details of her life, she doesn’t need you to make the choice for her, she just needs a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Maybe if you try to empathize with her logic, then you can do a better job to support her decision.
Here are some of the reasons she may have decided to stay:
The kids. This is a big one. When kids are involved, there are other people’s lives to consider than just her own. A woman may choose to stay because she doesn’t want to break up her family. Maybe she knows what it was like to grow up without a father in the house and doesn’t want her children to go through the same thing, or maybe her husband is a great father despite his cheating ways. Whatever the case, it’s not an easy decision for a woman to have to choose between the needs of herself and the needs of her children, so cut her some slack if there are kids involved and she decided to stay.
Money. For those that say they would never stay with a man for financial reasons, kudos to you, but understand that not all women think and act like you. Maybe she can’t afford to move out on her own right now, and she doesn’t want to burden family and friends by asking for help. Or maybe she has become accustomed to a certain way of living, and hasn’t gotten fed up enough to walk away from her lifestyle. Or maybe they have too many assets together, and splitting them up at this time would cause too much of a headache that neither one of them wants to deal with right now. If you can’t offer her the financial assistance that she needs, it’s best to keep your opinion to yourself on this one.
Companionship. Some women choose to stay even when the love is gone because they desire companionship. I know an older couple who had no romantic feelings for each other, they didn’t even sleep in the same bed. But because they had been together for many years and developed a solid friendship with one another, she chose to ignore his escapade with another woman, and stayed for the companionship. Some of us may not understand this logic, but it worked for them, so who are we to judge?
Understanding. A more mature couple may come to a mutual agreement to work things out even though the trust has been broken. Maybe she decided to stay because she realized that she was partially to blame for her husband’s cheating ways. Maybe she ignored him and took his love for granted, and he made the mistake of having an affair. In this instance, both parties were wrong, maybe one more than the other, but instead of walking away they made a mutual agreement to work on improving the relationship. Believe it or not, infidelity can sometimes strengthen a relationship because it awaken people to what they might’ve ignored in the past.
Insecurity. Maybe your friend won’t leave because she’s too insecure to walk away right now. She’s afraid that she won’t be able to find another man at this stage in her life, or that she’s too broken for any man to love her again. Don’t scold her for staying. Your reproach may only increase her insecurity. Try listening to her and finding ways to help build her self-esteem back up. As a friend, it’s not our job to pass judgement, but to show understanding and compassion.
If you think your friend should leave her cheating husband, I don’t expect you to change your opinion. I want you to have a better understanding of why she chose to stay and how you can be a better friend by supporting her decision. Obviously she trusted you enough to share something so personal, so do your friend a favor and be there with a listening ear and an understanding heart. As tempting as it may be, don’t be so quick to tell your friend what you think she should do, unless she specifically ask for your opinion. Don’t expect her react the same way that you would.by