Can a Marriage Survive an Affair?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Infidelity is emotionally devastating in a marriage – it is up there on the list of the most traumatizing events you will go through in your life. The betrayed spouse or partner feels like their world just turned upside down, that everything they believed in has vaporized. It hits your very soul, causing you to question yourself – what did you do wrong? Why weren’t you good enough? What does the other person have that you don’t have? But after the initial shock, you may start wondering if you should stay together or if it is time to end the relationship.

    According to, almost one third of all marriages that have struggled with infidelity continue. How do they do it? Is there a secret to making a marriage work after an affair?

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    Deciding whether to stay or end your relationship is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong, there is no “my neighbor stayed with her husband so I should too.” What you do may depend on how long you have been in the relationship and how long the affair lasted. If your spouse feels he is “in love” with the person, then this complicates matters even more. Some people choose to stay in a relationship because of money or religious beliefs. There are so many factors that go into the decision; you need to make the decision based on what is best for you and your family.


    When an affair is used as a “wake up call” to the problems within a marriage, all may not be lost. If both partners want to continue the relationship, make a commitment to do so, and of course, end the extramarital relationship, then there is a chance of making it work. This isn’t to say it will be easy, there is a lot of hurt and anger to get past, and trust is going to need to be rebuilt. But for this to work, both partners must be willing to be open and honest and be fully committed to working on the marriage – in mind and spirit but in time as well.


    Saving your marriage means asking, and answering the hard questions. You need to honestly assess your marriage and find out why the affair occurred. Affairs don’t normally occur for no reason. One person felt there were needs that weren’t being met inside the marriage. That doesn’t mean that you are to blame, it means you must honestly accept that a sour marriage occurs as a result of two people. What was your role? What was your spouse’s role? You will need to answer these questions to find out if, going forward, you are both willing to try to meet those previously unmet needs.


    It probably isn’t a good idea to make a decision on whether to end or continue the relationship right after you find out about it. You may be so devastated, so emotionally distraught, that you can’t think clearly. Putting off the decision (even if your spouse moves out of the house) until you can look at it more objectively may be a better idea. For the betrayed spouse, find someone you can vent to, you will have a lot of strong emotions. Venting to your partner isn’t a good idea because it will end up making him defensive and blaming you. Find a trusted friend, one that won’t judge you, find a support group  or talk with a counselor or therapist.


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    There are no magic answers or fairy dust to sprinkle over your marriage and make it all better. Coming back from an affair takes hard work and commitment. It takes the willingness to face the pain and continue moving through it to find the answers. For many people working with licensed marriage therapist or counselor is a must. The therapist won’t make the decision of whether the marriage can be saved, it can help you work together with your spouse on the issues that are blocking your way forward.




Published On: September 26, 2012