On Cheating, Forgiving, and Staying in an Abusive Relationship
Of course, the best alternative would be to leave the cheater, but there might be cases when such a thing would be impossible. For example the wife does not want to leave the husband because of the children or many other reasons. When separation is out of the questions, there are two possible solutions: the one who got cheated either forgives the cheater, or he/she holds a grudge against the cheater. It has been discovered that the ones who forgot the bad behavior of their spouses suffered a lot more in the immediate future than the ones who decided to stay mad. The reason why that happened was because the cheaters felt that it was OK to do it. They did not felt the consequences sp they decided that the best thing would be to cheat once again.
There are certain risks associated to the process of forgiving a partner who has cheated on you, and prior to making a decision, one needs to analyze the risks and the benefits of the decision she is about to do. Forgiving the other person will make one feel great, but in the long run that person will suffer even more. James McNulty, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, was the one who conducted the study. He stated that the spouses who were not forgiven by the partners were more likely of behaving in a better manner, as they were afraid that they will not be forgotten, and that their family lives will be ruined. The caught partner will behave in a good manner for a certain period of time after he has been caught, but soon afterwards he will relapse. McNulty analyzed various couples over the course of four years and he has reached to the conclusion that the best thing to do is to hold a grudge. When he analyzed the couples, he analyzed two different aspects: the forgiveness and the aggression.
He wanted to see how many times aggression occurred in the family, and the way in which the spouse reacted to the aggression. He discovered that the spouses who kept on forgiving the partners for the aggression were more likely to be abused much more often than the spouses who held a grudge for a very long period of time. It seems that the difference between being forgiving and becoming a doormat is not too big, as the ones who keep on forgiving often have to suffer much more. Eli Finkel, who is a social psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, stated that it is not always bad to forgive the other people. He also stated that the study made by McNulty is really good, as it opens the eyes of the people, telling them it is good to be a little selfish sometimes, and that there are cases when forgiving someone is actually a bad thing. McNulty conducted a different study as well in which he asked 135 heterosexual couples to write an individual journal each day for one week. In this journal they had to write about their relationship. They also had to write if the spouse has done something wrong and the way in which he/she has reacted to it.
76 men and 89 women wrote that their partner did something which upset them. It seemed that the wives behaved in a bad manner 29 percent of the days, and the husbands 34 percent of the days. McNulty realized that the people who were forgiven every time they did something wrong, misbehaved soon afterwards. The problems which these couples had were very simple, such as nagging or disagreements, but there were also cases when the conflicts became more serious. There were cases when the partners stated that they were physically abused, some said that their partner cheated on them, and so on. There was one woman who stated that her husband forced her to have sex with him, as she did not want to do it. McNulty said that he did not want to suggest that forgiving someone is a bad thing to do, or that if you do it you will become a doormat. He said that the problem arises when the spouse keeps on doing the same things over and over again, as he/she knows that the partner will keep on forgiving. He said that one should forgive his spouse if the incidents are very rare or if they are unique.
Tina B. Tessina, who is a psychotherapist, stated that the couples should try to solve their problems first, because if they forgive each other on a constant basis. She said that the couples should always try to work on the problem together, and that both of them should be involved when it comes to finding a solution. There are many women who stay in very abusive relationships, and it has been discovered that there are several psychological reasons for that. It seems that the women who get abused on a constant basis consider their partner to still be affectionate, and they believe that they would not be able to manage without him. In the case of the low-income women from the United States of America, it has been discovered that 43 percent of them have been abused at least once by their partners from their current relationship. It was discovered that the psychological abuse was more common than the physiological one. There were cases of sexual abuse as well, but those ones were the least common. 2.3 percent of the women stated that their partners were very controlling, and that they could not do too many things on their own, whereas 1.2 percent of the women stated that their partners were very aggressive.
54 percent of those women who were abused by their partners stated that their spouses were very reliable, and 21 percent of them said that their spouses were affectionate. The researchers also stated that there are three different types of abusive men as well. Some of them are dependable but they still abuse their partners. 44 percent of the abusive men fall into this category. They were not violent, and they did not control their wives too often. Because of that their partners saw them as being reliable and affectionate. 38 percent of the men were positive but controlling. They were sometimes violent, and they were more controlling than the ones from the previous group. These men got angrier much more often than the men from the other group. 18 percent of the men were dangerously abusive, and they were the most violent and the most controlling. Their partners did not feel affection towards them and they did not consider them to be reliable. These men also had numerous troubles with the law.
There are many people who blame the women for not leaving their abusive partners, but the researchers from the University of Illinois have stated that a woman goes through five stages when she is being abused. There are lots of emotions and uncertainty involved in the relationship. A woman might feel emotionally attached to her partner even though she is no longer attached from a physical point of view. In the same time, she does not know what her partner is feeling; she is uncertain if her partner still loves her or not. The problem is way bigger when there are children involved in the problem as well. Because of her children she would be willing to take the abuse; she would rather be unhappy than to see her children being unhappy. However, in all of the cases she would like to communicate with her partner in order to solve the problem together.
It seems that in the first two stages, the women who are abused are starting to detach themselves from their relationship and from their partners from an emotional point of view. They start to stop caring, and they are prepared to do something about their situation. Usually if the abuse keeps on going, stage three occurs. In this stage the women actually make a transition from thinking about leaving to taking action. They start to save money, and they look for a new place to stay, or they might talk to their parents about moving back in the house and so on. All of these steps are done in secret, and usually she does not tell her partner anything about it. In the fourth stage they take action, and they move out of the house. There are cases when they come back again, as they are emotionally tied. They miss their home, and they even miss their husbands. This stage is full of uncertainty. The fifth stage which is also the last stage is achieved when the women have been away from home for more than six months. They are not safe during this moment as they often have to make contact with the husband, especially in court. The husbands might harass their partners on a constant basis in this moment, as they might want to convince them to come back.
When a woman decides to leave a relationship there are many things which come into the equation, not just the act of physically leaving. First of all, the woman is not the one who decides if she is in safety or not. Her husband might become abusive even after she has left him. The women need to make preparations prior to their movement, as they need to make sure that they have a place to stay, a job, and so on. The friends and the family of the abused person should be very helpful, and they should not blame the woman for the decision she took. They should not pressure the woman, as they are not in her position. They should just support her, and they should allow her to move in her own pace. The situation is much easier when the reason for leaving the partner is because of cheating, and one of the reasons for that might be the fact that those women are not afraid of physical violence as the women who have been abused.11