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What to Do If Your Cheating Wife Doesn’t Want To Divorce

Anna Khmara

Anna is a certified life transformation and relationship coach with an in-depth focus on positive psychology and transactional analysis. Using her 3+ years of experience, she helps her clients understand the essence of the problem, build self-esteem, establish healthy relationships, find harmony, and manifest their dreams into reality.

Having cheated on their husbands, many women have absolutely no intention to dissolve the marriage and ruin their families.

To understand why your cheating wife doesn’t want a divorce, you need to identify the root cause of her adulterous behavior. Only then can you decide how to handle the situation.

Infidelity is not rare in our society. Research shows that approximately 28% of people have cheated on their partners. Interestingly, women in the survey were unfaithful in 31.4% of cases, compared to 24% of men.

So, let’s dig deeper to decide what to do if your wife cheated but doesn’t want a divorce.

Why a Wife Doesn’t Want to Divorce

We’ve heard a lot about situations when a husband cheated but doesn’t want a divorce. But many women who have an affair also don’t want to leave their marriage.

It may sound strange, mostly because society believes that men’s infidelity has little connection to love for the other woman. In contrast, the women’s infidelity includes a strong romantical interest in their new partner.

But why don’t they want to divorce, then?

Why a Wife Doesn’t Want to Divorce

The idea of divorce might be frightening to your cheating wife because of several things. So, let’s inspect some of the possible reasons she wants to avoid divorce.

She can’t afford to live alone

A wife may be used to the financial security that the marriage provides. Ideally, spouses have a joint bank account, family insurance, and tax benefits for being married. However, if a cheating spouse divorces her husband, she will need more money than she currently has to her name.

Housing costs are rising every year, making it challenging to live alone. Even with financial support that a husband could provide as alimony and child support, it would be challenging to survive.

In 2020, 18.7% of single-mother families lived below the poverty level, according to Statista.com. So, a wife may not want a divorce to save herself and the kids from financial difficulties.

She wants the children to grow up with both parents

A wife can openly say, “I cheated, but I don’t want a divorce because of the children.” Maybe she even got married because she was pregnant, and her child needed a two-parent family. After all, if the spouse is a mother, she would want to protect her kids’ feelings and well-being.

However, it is more prevalent these days to believe that having both parents is not as important to a child’s mental health as a conflict-free environment at home between parents.

Children will have more adverse mental effects in the short and long term if they live in high-conflict families, writes Ann Gold Buscho Ph.D. in her article for Psychology Today.

So, after divorce, children will be more or less okay if their parents can maintain a civilized relationship.

Divorce is too expensive

If you know how much money a divorce costs, you understand why a cheating spouse doesn’t want to rush to hire a divorce attorney. Contested divorces are usually the most expensive.

Depending on the amount of property and the presence of underage children, the cost may reach $10,000-$12,000. A simple consultation with a lawyer where you talk about your possible divorce options will not be cheap.

The average hourly rate for an attorney is between $100-$500.

An uncontested divorce is less expensive. If you hire a lawyer to review the divorce settlement, you’ll pay a few thousand dollars at most. Spouses can also use self-help options to reduce the cost of divorce.

However, a couple would need to talk to each other about it. A peaceful divorce includes both sides agreeing on certain things, and, sometimes, the husband and wife would need a mediator to facilitate the negotiation.

She is comfortable in the current situation

Most people won’t change anything if they are comfortable. That’s why a spouse stays in the family and doesn’t want a divorce.

Ending a marriage is always accompanied by changes and new life paths for all family members. For this reason, some spouses prefer to remain in a familiar environment rather than start from scratch.

Divorce also means making your own decisions and solving many issues simultaneously, for example, where to live, which parent will keep the children, what happens with insurance, etc.

Perhaps a cheating spouse does not want to get divorced because she is not ready to deal with these issues and get used to a new way of life.

Her new fling is unreliable

It’s a rare thing when a wife cheats and doesn’t care whether her husband finds out. Most of the time, they try to hide it. But why not come clean and get it over with?

Maybe the wife knows that her new partner is not ready to commit. So, she doesn’t want a divorce because she has nowhere to go.

Plus, the person she is having an affair with might be taken (married or in another relationship) and is not ready to ditch their other romantic partner.

It is possible if the wife is not pregnant at the time of filing for divorce. Therefore, the husband will have to wait until after the baby is born in some states, even if he thinks it’s not his. In other circumstances, a person doesn’t need their wife’s consent to start a divorce process.

There is a specific procedure for a spouse to end their marriage. First, they have to file a divorce petition with the court. Infidelity is one of the grounds to end a marriage, along with cruelty (e.g., domestic violence) or abandonment.

So, a petitioner may check the “adultery” square in the document and take it to their local court.

However, if the wife had an affair, and the husband wants a divorce, but she doesn’t, the divorce process might get messy. Each spouse will probably need a lawyer to handle contentious issues and provide specific advice on how to get a better outcome.

Hiring a divorce attorney is absolutely necessary if a couple has children but can’t agree on child custody issues.

Is It Cheating When You’re Separated?

In theory, if a wife cheated during separation, it is still considered adultery because spouses are technically still married. Yet, you could agree to date during your separation before getting divorced.

For example, a person living in North Carolina can’t get a divorce until they have lived separately from their spouse for over a year.

So, it’s not wrong to date other people when spouses agree to have an uncontested divorce and live apart while waiting for it. In the same way, if a couple has discussed an open marriage before the separation, it’s morally acceptable to start seeing other people.

However, it can still be considered cheating when married and have consequences in the legal sense.

On the other hand, if the spouses agree to take a break from their marriage to work on marital issues and get back together afterward, they don’t expect the other person to have an affair.

If the wife cheated during this trial separation period, the husband may file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

How Does Infidelity Affect the Divorce Outcome?

If you’re in the mode of “my wife cheated on me, and I want a divorce,” you should be aware of what consequences your spouse’s adultery can have for the divorce outcome. The primary things to consider are property, child custody, and spousal support.

Some of these could tilt in the husband’s favor if the wife cheated during the marriage.

How Does Infidelity Affect the Divorce Outcome?

What happens to alimony if the wife cheats on the husband?

“My wife is cheating on me” statement will not save anyone from paying alimony. Similarly, if a husband cheats on his wife, the woman will not get more money as compensation.

The vast majority of judges do not care whether a spouse has cheated when they decide the issue of financial support.

However, alimony is not awarded to a wife in every divorce. The court will first decide the need for it and the financial circumstances of both parties. Plus, if a cheating partner cohabits with someone else, some courts (e.g., in California) could reduce the amount of spousal support.

Who has more chances to get child custody?

These days, the courts do not automatically give child custody to the mother just because she’s a woman. In the same way, a husband divorcing a cheating wife will not have more chances to keep the children because infidelity is not a decisive factor in the child custody matter.

The judge usually considers a child’s best interests when deciding which spouse should be the primary caretaker. If, for example, a wife left children unattended for the sake of romantic rendezvous with her lover, that could diminish her chances to get the kids after divorce.

Will the court give a husband a more significant share of the property if the spouse has cheated?

The answer is maybe, and it depends. For example, suppose a wife has dissipated marital property and spent a lot of money on their affair.

In that case, the court could compensate for it by awarding a husband more than half of the estate if the divorce occurs in a community property state and simply a larger share in other states.

“If dissipation is found, courts frequently divide the spouses’ property as if the dissipated property still exists,” says J. T. Oldham from the Law department of the University of Houston. “And the dissipated property is awarded to the dissipating spouse.”

Should I Keep Living With a Cheating Spouse?

If your wife has cheated and you’re still pondering over the question “Should I divorce my cheating wife?” this section will help you look at things more clearly.

It is difficult to find an excuse for the affair, but it is worth understanding the reasons before deciding to divorce a cheating spouse.

Should I Keep Living With a Cheating Spouse?

Kenneth P. Rosenberg, MD, distinguishes three main factors that contribute to infidelity:

  • Physiological (brain structure and chemistry in the body).
  • Psychological (your way of thinking and self-perception).
  • Cultural (e.g., opportunities for affairs).

Perhaps the affair was the result of circumstances. For example, the husband had to take an extended business trip abroad or was imprisoned, etc. Also, “affairs can give people a sense of achievement, adventure, romance, intimacy, and sexual variety,” Deborah L. Rhode wrote in her book ‘Adultery: Infidelity and the Law.’

Other reasons include loss of interest in the husband, a high level of sex hormones, the influence of friends who accept adulterous behavior, and so on.

If you realize that your wife cheats because she doesn’t love you anymore, maybe it’s not a good idea to stay together.

Be completely honest with yourself and imagine how your life with the same person would look after you decide to forgive them. Remember that nothing will be as it was before your wife cheated.

If you and your spouse are ready to experience many changes, you still have hope to make your marriage work.

Should I Divorce My Wife for Cheating?

Certain things cannot be tolerated or changed for the better. Everyone has their own idea of what is acceptable in marriage and what isn’t. That’s why only you can decide whether you should file for divorce when a spouse cheats or forgive them.

If it happened just once, and the wife is deeply sorry about it, maybe it’s not too late to recover the relationship.

Should I Divorce My Wife for Cheating?

If you can’t figure out the situation on your own, try contacting a marriage therapist. A fresh and unbiased look from the outside can help to understand the causes of the crisis and possibly overcome difficulties together with your spouse if she consents to attend the sessions with you.

But if you still want a divorce after couples therapy, you should probably visit a nearby law office for helpful advice on how to start the divorce process.

Final Words

Your marriage life, as you know it, will definitely change after your wife’s affair. It will either worsen or transform into an entirely new relationship.

But one thing is sure - you will never be the same person who said the wedding vows. So it’s your choice whether to stay and save your marriage or start afresh with someone else.


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