Would you leave your husband if he cheated?

March 15, 2008 Katja Presnal

Would you leave your husband if he cheated?

While the public shame is on Mr Spitzer, the big question is “what will Mrs Spitzer do”.

We can read about her on CNN, watch biography show of her on TV, and even read interviews on magazines, but none of us can really know what her marriage is about, and what she “should do” after finding out her husband had met with a prostitute.

Put yourself in her situation.

What would you do, if you found out your husband had seen a prostitute or cheated on you with another woman?
Would you leave him?
How many times he would have to cheat you that you would leave him?
Once, twice, three or more times?

When one of my friend’s husband cheated on her, my first instinct was to tell her “leave him, you deserve better”, but I decided to bite my tongue. Who was I to judge? They had two young children, beautiful house, and she was a stay-at-home-mom. The divorce would have meant selling the house, her getting a job, children placed in day care, among many other things. My friend’s husband was her high school sweet heart, and she was still crazy about him. He was a good dad for the children, and didn’t want to leave her or the family. “It didn’t mean anything” said he. She was hurt, he said he would never do it again, she wanted to leave him, but he pleaded her to stay. She stayed and everything went back to normal in a year or so, and I was happy for my friend for staying with him. Seemed like they were doing great.

But then my friend’s husband cheated her again. This time I wanted to go and beat the sh*t out of him, I was so mad, I saw my friend so hurt and sad. This time it wasn’t as easy to hold my tongue, and we had long talks with my friend.

She is still married, but things are changed now. She got a job and she is building more her own life – maybe even preparing for the life after divorce? She lost 10 pounds and looks great – maybe even to look more attractive for other men? The bottom line, she is still working hard to keep her marriage, but also building her life that it is easier to leave her husband if she chooses so.

Her story is more familiar than most of us women would like to admit. Even if your husband hasn’t cheated on you, or never will. It is so easy to get into that “family train” and be the devoted wife, the caring mother, the home decorator, the family builder. We women want to give our everything for the family, and sometimes: we forget about ourselves. Or we want it all so bad, the career, the family and forget to take care of the relationship we have with our husbands, just because we are busy pumping the milk while having a conference call on phone.

I admit it. Can you? My whole life is about my husband and kids. I have been a stay at home mom ever since I quit eating birth control pills. My last ten years have been all about encouraging my husband in his career, following him around the world while he is building his resume. And I’m merely building yet another home. One day scrubbing the kitchen sink, I sighed to my husband “I wasn’t meant for cleaning” and he says “No, you were meant for shopping and drinking coffee”. And even though it was just a joke, I got so mad. Even though I do like coffee .. and shopping – and my revenge was to spend 100 bucks in new coffee cups! Still, the “joke” stayed with me, and I think it was the day I started writing a business plan for a coffee house and making pastry recipes for pastries I would serve. (I never opened the coffee shop, but I did start my own business).

I guess what I’m trying to say.. We shouldn’t let things just go and assume everything in life will always stay constant – however happy and satisfied in our lives we are right now. Something might happen tomorrow that will change your life for ever. We should have some kind of a backup plan.

But back to Mrs Spitzer. If I was her… I would have gone to the press conference too and stood by my husband, and I would have showed I have dignity. Love, family and companionship? I wouldn’t leave all that behind. But I would make sure there is a new sherif in town now, and things will have to change a lot, and nothing even remotely similar never ever happens again. And I would start making the backup plan, what I’ll do when I divorce the SOB who cheated and humiliated me.

Oh, and a note for my husband: I love you so much, but if you ever even think about cheating on me, the above of course does not apply. I will kick in your balls, back my & kids’ bags immediately and I will even take the TV. Kids will enjoy the Finnish education at the Arctic Circle and you will learn what words “bitch”, “pain” and “suffering” mean.

Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work. Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners. She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (6)

  1. Lashonsa

    I don’t even believe in second chances. You will never forget! If you stay, you will always be reminded by what he did. When a song comes on about cheating, when a movie comes on about cheating, when radio DJ’s talk about cheating, when Cheaters the show comes on TV. It will constantly be thrown in your face about how stupid you were for taking him back, not including your friends and family who will snidely condescend you & treat you like a desperate pathetic dumb ass. You can forgive the guy without having to take him back. Think about this, by taking him back, what is that teaching your kids? What is that teaching every man out there? That it’s okay to cheat on women. No excuses! Don’t do it.

  2. Katja of skimbaco.com

    DeAnna,
    I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

    I think a relationship is something I would just do the “kick in the balls and go”.

    You are a great example how a divorce can be the best thing ever happened :) You are so right, that these acts effect so many other people than just the spouse, and I think it is unforgivable for parents to do something like this to their children. Some people think it doesn’t have anything to do with other people, even their children, but it has everything to do with them!

  3. DeAnna

    To answer your question yes, we have had this conversation over the past weeks due my closest friend who found out that her husband has been having an affair for the past 2 years. My husband and I agree this is one unforgivable act and if it gets to that point you have other much bigger problems to deal with than the actual act. My personal belief is “once a cheater, always a cheater”. I have been divorced (“once and addict always and addict” in that case) and while not easy (or something I wish for anyone) it is also not the end of the world. If not for my choice to leave I would not have the wonderful life, husband, and child I do today. I would have continued to remain an enabler and would not have grown as a person like I have by standing on my principles. I learned and I made better choices. As for my children, I want to set the example of a strong woman who will not let other’s take advantage of her (even a family member). Otherwise they grow up believing certain behavior is acceptable. I guess this is just one that steps over the line for me and one I could personally not forget or ever completely get over. On the flip side, my husband feels the same way so this is a mutually agreed topic for what would be the final outcome. So, make that choice and you know where it will lead. And as for my friend, many (including myself) had suspicion and even information that we could have shared but didn’t. We thought we were taking the high road and not being part of the “gossip train”. Now that things are out in the open the stories are starting to surface and guess what, they began quite a long time ago and this was not the first time. Because of our mutual silence there is more hurt now than just of that from the spouse. I always say to be careful not the judge too quickly or to take your situation for granted. This would have seemed to be a perfect marriage to the outside world, great job, house, kids, and a wife that is one of the most beautiful people I know (inside and out). Goes to show you just never know. Unfortunately none of us are immune to betrayal. She too was shocked and hurt and is now trying to find her way. I have no doubt that no matter her decision we will all stand by her as a friend but it will be a long time before all of us get over the betrayal. The act effects not just the partner but also the children, family, and friends.

  4. Stina

    Loistavaa tekstia taas Katja!

    Niinhan tuo riippuisi tilanteesta; esim.olisivatko lapset pienia ja pystyisiko heille yksin takaamaan turvatun tulevaisuuden. Jos ei, niin varmasti aika moni meista olisi valmis nielemaan melkoisesti sontaa lastensa hyvinvoinnin puolesta. Kotiaidit ovat usein varsin haavoittuvaisia tallaisissa tilanteissa, ikava kylla.

    *Mietteliaana kohottaa han sullelle valkoviinilasinsa*

  5. Katja of skimbaco.com

    I’m so with you Jane, but I’ve just seen some crazy stuff lately, that I don’t know what to think anymore. I have also seen my friends go through divorce, and I don’t know if I want all that either.

    What IF Mrs S thought exactly of her marriage as you think about yours? What if everything was “perfect” and she “knew it would never happen to her”?

    I have other friends too to whom this has happen, and the statistics say there is cheating in 20-50% of marriages in the US. That’s a lot! Makes me think – Why would my marriage be any different than most people’s?

    But Mrs S – maybe she is just playing it smart by not doing anything in a spur of a moment. She stays, even seeks counseling, shows up at the press conference… shows that she “did everything” and when (I don’t think it’s an IF, cheater is a cheater) this happens again, Mrs S will divorce and sue Mr S and get everything, including his hot pants.

    Think of Hillary C. – Bill C. got caught, but did she leave him? No, she stayed, probably put him suffer behind the closed doors (hope so after what he did :), and now he is her nro 1 campaigner. Do you think a divorced ex-first-lady would have a chance of even running for president?

    So for the celebs and politicians there are public reasons to stay together (sometimes it’s best to break up for the same reason!), but I don’t think it’s that different among people like us. The reason might also be the mortgage, money, kids, even church or religion. Other things make it worth to stay for some people.

    But like said – I’m with you Jane – if he’d cheat – I’m gone!

  6. pinks & blues girls

    You are so awesome, Katja. Your spunk makes me smile. :) I know we would have lots of coffee and shopping trips together if we lived closer! ;)

    OK, on to your question… I honestly don’t think I would have been able to stand behind my husband at a press conference like Mrs. Spitzer did. I think I would have said, “You made the decisions. You did this to yourself. You go out there and announce to the world what an ass you are. I’ll be at home packing all my stuff.”

    Of course, I don’t know what has gone on in their marriage… I am only basing my opinion on what MY marriage is like. If I found out that my husband was cheating on me – either with a prostitute or with someone at work – it would just be so outside of who I think he is as a person… so outside of what he stands for… so much so that I just think I’d have to say, “I really don’t know you. You are not the person I fell in love with. You are not the person you pretend to be.”

    I feel fortunate to have a marriage that I feel so secure in that I just know we will never have to worry about infidelity on either side.

    But if he did ever cheat? See ya! :)

    Jane, Pinks & Blues

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