LIFESTYLE

Here's Why You Shouldn't Judge Couples Who Choose To Work Through Infidelity

"Intimacy is very complex."

05/09/2017 18:10 SAST | Updated 05/09/2017 18:10 SAST

Staying in a relationship where there has been infidelity does not mean you are weak, or that something is necessarily wrong with you. That's according to Johannesburg-based couples therapist Louis Venter.

"In fact, 70 percent of the couples I've counselled chose to stay and work through the hard times," Venter said.

"People stay for numerous reasons because intimacy is very complex -- something an outsider may not fully understand," said Venter -- whose marriage was also once on the rocks.

Here are his top three reasons for working at it:

1. Truly loving the other person.

Venter said when he and his wife faced tough times in their marriage, both of them knew they wanted to make it work and felt they "belonged together". He believes this is the fundamental thing -- both parties committed to making it work and fully believing they still need each other to grow. "It's about someone who gives you what you can't give yourself."

2. Wanting to give the relationship a fresh start.

Venter believes affairs -- although he does not recommend them -- can "be a great gift". More so if the cheating happened because one partner was seeking what they no longer could find in their existing relationship. Although there is never an excuse to cheat, the affair may help the couple realise what had gone wrong and in this way, can jump-start a relationship back to life.

3. They see the affair as a mistake they can move past.

Venter told HuffPost SA that some partners saw the affair as a mistake that they could, "through a lot of work", get past. They choose not to allow it to define the other person or the entirety of their relationship.

Some people can't get past the affair.

He does say, however, that some couples choose to leave because they feel the betrayal is too much to bear. "Some people say, let's just part ways because it hurts too much and I don't think I can ever get over this."

This proves, said Venter, that there was no recipe for going through infidelity. And until you've been through it, you may never fully understand why people stay.

You can't stay only for the children, though.

The therapist cautioned against those who stay only for the sake of the children, or mainly for financial stability, or to keep up appearances, saying it is not healthy -- for them or their children.

"Remember, kids live in a space between two people, so rather don't create an unsafe and unloving space for the children."

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