Dear Rhonda,

I cheated on my girlfriend of 5 years with my male cousin. We have 3 children together. I have been faithful for the past 2 years but she refuses to move forward. I don’t understand how to show her I’m sorry. Now she’s out all night, won’t sleep with me, claims to be single on FB, but she will not move out. She won’t reconcile or move out. I do not know how to get a decision from her.


Dear Chris,

Sorry to sound harsh, but it sounds like you cheated on her, and now you want her to make it better. Unfortunately, you cannot change the past, and you cannot force her to make amends, but there are some steps you can take that may help you work through this.

From what you have described I see three main considerations (in order of importance):

  1. The children and your parental responsibility
  2. Your relationship health
  3. Financial and legal considerations

Your absolute top priority should be your three children. What is in their best interest? Whether you end up reconciling or separating, and whatever your living arrangement, their wellbeing comes first.

Next is your relationship. You cheated and now it seems your girlfriend wants out, and is acting as though you have separated, though she has not moved out of your shared accommodation. I don’t know what else she has communicated to you about her intentions and whether she sees herself as permanently separated from you, or if this is temporary. Only she can tell you that (and she may not know herself). However you cannot force her to have that conversation, nor can you force someone to reconcile.

You can however try to understand her position. Listen to what she is thinking and feeling. Sit with her pain, her anger, and her feelings of betrayal without getting defensive. You do not have to agree with her, you just have to empathise with where she is at right now.

Once you are able to hear her, without interjection or defence, you are more likely to have a productive conversation. Remind her it is in the best interests of your children to reach a resolution, whatever that may be, and to at least talk about what is going on. If you cannot get to this point, I recommend seeking help from a relationship therapist or couples’ counsellor to help mediate. Your goal is not necessarily to reconcile, but to agree upon an arrangement that is amicable and reasonable and in the interests of your children.

Lastly, you have the question of your living arrangements and any financial and legal considerations. It is possible to co-habit even if you have separated. This may be an option, which allows you to co-parent and provide some stability for your family. However, it comes with a raft of other problems, such as how you maintain healthy separate lives. A good couples’ counsellor can help you work through these options.

Do you jointly own or lease your property? There are legal as well as practical considerations here. You may not be able to force someone out of your property, particularly if you jointly own or lease. You may have legal parental obligations that have financial implications. It may be worth seeking legal advice so you know where you stand.

However, I advise against involving lawyers in your situation if you can. A good couples’ counsellor can help you navigate through this without resorting to adversarial intervention, which is likely to escalate your difficulties, rather than help you reach consensus.

In short, decide what you want, what you are prepared to work with, and what is best for your children. Get a counsellor involved if you need, and get talking, and by talking, I mean listening. Infidelity does not have to end a relationship, but an unwillingness or inability to communicate will. You need to sort something amicable out, whether that is separating or reconciling, whether that is living together or apart, for the sake of your children.

— Rhonda xx

Related articles