Infidelity has the uncanny ability to inspire an intense need for revenge. For many spouses, it is the first time in their lives they’ve been so heavily betrayed. We’ve all heard examples of a scorned lover taking retribution by cheating in return. Revenge is as human of an emotion as love itself, and it’s rooted in self-protection, making it a hard emotion to ignore. Many psychologists say that the impulse to seek revenge is a primitive impulse, and therefore instinctual. But does action on such an impulse come as any good? The answer is almost always a resounding no. Cheating out of retribution deteriorates any chance our marriages have of surviving infidelity. Here’s why:
Revenge is great in sports or competitions. It’s fun to see the scorned underdog defeat their dastardly opponent. In love, however, there are no winners. Cheating on a spouse out of revenge for their infidelity will result in two losers. If you think cheating in retribution will teach them a lesson, it will likely only result in them feeling vindicated in their actions.
Seeking retribution only deters you and your spouse from dealing with the root of the problem. Speaking about problems in a marriage is an incredibly difficult conversation, and seeking retribution is the easy way out. Instead of confronting our emotions by admitting to our spouse how deeply they hurt us, how angry we are, and how something like this could ever happen, we mimic their actions to show them how we feel. The outcome of this is a profoundly damaged relationship with many barriers to recovery.
After cheating numerous times during my 23-year-long marriage, my wife could easily have sought revenge in the bed of another man or filed for divorce. Instead, she confronted her emotions and we had a very deep and difficult conversation about our marriage and the problems within it. She chose to see if we could face and address our problems, and therefore my inclination to cheat.
Through my mistakes and shortcomings, through my wife’s pain and suffering, we were able to rebuild our relationship with the power of unconditional love. A foundation that allowed us to heal and correct the problems our marriage faced. If my wife had cheated on me out of revenge, we would never have been able to save our relationship or realize the potential of our marriage.
If you truly love your spouse, find the strength within yourself to stuff away the need for revenge. Confront your emotions and communicate them to your partner. In the end, the infidelity may lead your relationship to a place of greater love, strength, and possibilities.