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Infidelity in Marriage

Can Your Marriage Survive a Cheating Spouse?


Marriage therapy. Couple with a psychiatrist.
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Every time the media gives attention to the topic of infidelity and cheating spouses, many couples internally ask the question of how they would cope with such a situation and wonder if their own marriage could survive such betrayal.
Harriet Lerner: "Keep in mind that an affair is not a terrible aberration that only occurs in unhappy marriages. It’s a myth that the “real reason” behind an affair is a faulty spouse or bad marriage. A sexually and emotionally distant marriage will definitely make an affair more likely, but it’s also true that affairs happen in excellent marriages as well. Affairs have many sources, and opportunity and work context are among the pre-disposing factors."
Source: Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. "Will Your Marriage Survive the Affair?" PsychologyToday.com. 2/26/2013.

Marriage Can Survive Infidelity

  • Marriage can survive infidelity.
  • It's not easy.
  • It hurts.
  • There will probably be anger, tears, and depression.
  • It will take time to heal.
  • It will take a decision to trust again.
  • It will take the cheater taking responsibility and not blaming his/her spouse for the affair.
  • It will take courage.
  • It will require commitment from both of you to save your marriage.

We can make these statements because our marriage did survive unfaithfulness. Our crisis happened in our eighth year of marriage and the result was a really nasty, hurtful, and expensive divorce. A year and a half later, we re-married each other. We've now been married nearly 50 years.

So, yes, we believe a marriage can survive an extra-marital affair. But ONLY if both partners are willing to acquire and use the communication skills necessary to making their marriage successful.

Feelings Often Surrounding Marital Infidelity

Some feelings that are prominent when a couple experiences cheating in their marriage include:
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Anger
  • Hurt
  • Disappointment
  • Rage
  • Embarrassment
  • Forgiveness
  • Jealousy
  • Lust
  • Resentment
  • Denial
  • Mis-trust

Related: List of Feeling Words

Some Marriages Should Not Be Saved

Your marriage can survive this onslaught of feelings. However, some marriages are not meant to be saved.

If the infidelity is one of many symptoms of domestic and/or emotional abuse in your relationship, or if your spouse is a serial cheater, it may be time to throw in the towel.

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