When Infidelity Strikes...
My sister’s fiancée cheated on her, and she is torn between leaving him and giving the relationship another chance. Her first reaction was to throw in the towel, but she couldn’t bring herself to actually do that. So she sat down and thought, deciding to stay with him for now and try to clear her head. “I don’t want to do anything irrational at this point,” she told me. But even this decision has her racked with worry because she wants so desperately to make the right choice.
Although she hasn’t come right out and said this, my sister is afraid of regret. If she leaves, she thinks that, at some point in her life, she’ll have regrets because she loves him. If she stays, she worries she’ll have different regrets because he betrayed her trust. She’s trying to balance the two to make the best decision, but weighing pros and cons isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It’s hard to make a decision with thoughts battling against each other inside the brain.
In the past, I’ve known my sister not to make a decision at all, which, in and of itself, is still a choice. Her theory is that life, fate, or even time will manipulate the situation so it “works out the way it’s supposed to.” But sitting, waiting, and doing nothing doesn’t necessarily relieve angst. It temporarily eliminates the need to make an active decision, but it also prevents a person from identifying what he or she wants and pursuing those wants. My sister is essentially avoiding the question of whether she wants to continue her relationship or end it. She's drifting along in whatever direction the winds of life point her.
Maybe this is a coping mechanism, a way for her to deal with all the emotions she’s facing. I worry that it could be something else, a crutch so she doesn’t have to accept responsibility. She’s waiting for divine intervention to put her on the right road, but she may need to give fate a little nudge of her own.
I can’t make suggestions about what she should do because the decision ultimately has nothing to do with me. I also don’t want to push her because I know she’s having a hard time. She discovered this other woman after reading some texts in her fiancee’s phone that revealed they met on a business trip in late 2012. They made arrangements to see each other around Christmas. After that, the relationship seems to have fizzled, bloomed again, and then ended once and for all. My sister and her fiancée already lived together during this episode, and she thought their relationship was strong and stable. Now she wonders if if he’s lied about other things as well.
She’s beginning to see that romantic relationships are about more than forgiving and forgetting. They also force people to make decisions that might evoke regrets, and these can have powerful, lasting effects. A life without regrets is all but impossible, but that doesn’t mean one has to add to the inevitable by making poor decisions.
In 20 or 30 years, when all of this is a distant memory, I hope that she looks back with comfort that she made the right decision. It’s irrelevant whether she stays in the relationship or not because her life will go on either way. The most important thing is that she lives her life with as much fortitude as possible. And that means gracefully making the difficult decisions.