Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity?

Can A Marriage Survive Infidelity?

Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity?

Some marriages survive a one-time, or maybe even a short-term affair, especially during a long marriage. But most marriages do not survive ongoing infidelity of any kind. If your spouse is not willing to stop behaviors that are destructive to you and to your family, your marriage will not survive. And if one partner continues to be unfaithful, a marriage shouldn’t survive. 

Marriage shouldn’t be an endurance test where you have to accept cheating by your partner over and over again. Marriage should be a safe, fun, fulfilling plus for both of you! 

After the discovery of both affairs, what was most frustrating to me was that never once did my husband come to me while we were married and say, “I’m not happy. I’m struggling with our marriage. I’m not getting what I need. We need to talk and get some help.” 

most husbands who cheat, I guess he decided that finding a girlfiend (my word for women who get involved with married men!) was much more exciting and less work than addressing the issues he was having with our marriage. 

In my midlife divorce recovery work, I hear stories all the time of men who actually leave notes on the counter, or send a text to say, “I’m not happy. I haven’t been for ten years. I’m here!” 

Then why in the heck didn’t they have the guts to say something?!! 

Marriage after cheating shouldn’t survive when lying becomes the cheater’s modus operandi. The fact that your life partner can look you in the face and lie after years of sharing the most intimate parts of life is as hurtful as the sexual adultery. It shows such a lack of respect. And such cowardice! 

Often a cheating husband keeps denying that there is another woman or tells us that “She’s just a friend;” or “She’s having trouble in her marriage and I’m just trying to help her;” or “There is no one else!” That’s when most wives turn into their own Private Detective Agency! (And believe me, that is an agonizing, devastating, worse-than-humiliating-place to be!)

What Percentage of Marriages Survive Infidelity?

When I married my then husband, I made promises to stay in the marriage “for better, for worse. In sickness and in health. “Til death do us part.” I made that promise to my husband, before God and all of our family and friends. And he returned the promise. I didn’t want to be part of that percentage of marriages that don’t make it — and especially because of infidelity. 

We had survived his first affair. We moved on and made our marriage stronger. So, when I discovered his long-term affair after our 30th anniversary, I was determined to give him every opportunity to give up that relationship, rebuild our marriage and save our family … again. 

I tried everything. I begged and pleaded. I screamed and sobbed. None of that made any difference to him. He continued seeing her even while he told me to my face that the affair was over. It never was. I finally decided that I couldn’t be the woman I was created to be and stay in a toxic relationship of lying, deception and all kinds of infidelity.

By the way, after three years of my ex and his affair partner not being able to stay away from each other, they broke up within six months of our divorce. What a mess they made, and what damage they did to so many people! Statistics also show that few men actually marry their affair partner (3%), and for those who do marry, do not have successful marriages (75%).  

How To Heal A Marriage After An Affair

In order for a marriage to heal after infidelity, the person who had the affair has to do three things:

They have to GET IT – They must realize how serious infidelity is and how damaging it is to a spouse and to their whole family. They should realize that adultery negatively affects their children, their extended family, friends and even society as a whole. 

They have to OWN IT – They must take full responsibility for their infidelity. They can’t try to blame you and say that if you had been different, or more of this or less of that, they wouldn’t have had to do this. Having the affair was their choice and their choice alone. 

They have to FIX IT – They must do whatever their spouse needs them to do to regain trust and start fresh. It’s not just a matter of saying, “I’m sorry … now let’s just move on.” and expecting that to be enough. They have to change their behavior. 

If our husband isn’t willing to do those three things … the marriage is very, very unly to survive the affair and its aftermath.

End The Affair

Ending the affair is never as easy as it sounds. And many men seem to think that simply saying the affair is over makes it so.

Also, some of these girlfiends have been waiting for our husband to divorce us and marry them he said he would. Often they have left their own husband and children. They aren’t going to go away easily.

And many men don’t actually want them to go away. They think they can have it all. For most wives, that doesn’t work! 

Full Honesty & Communication

One of the hardest things to face in trying to repair your relationship after an affair is for the offender to answer any and all questions their spouse is asking them, whether they think the questions are fair or not. 

My ex-husband never wanted to talk about what caused it. He simply wanted to say, “I’m sorry,” and then just forget about it. AND FOR YOU TO JUST GET OVER IT! For me, and for most women, that doesn’t cut it. I needed him to know how devastating this all was to me and for him to be honest with me no matter what.

Consider Professional Help

Professional help after an affair can be very helpful … or not. When we were trying to move on after the long term affair, we saw a counselor who finally told my ex that he would have to find another counselor because he wasn’t willing to do what would be needed to ever fix our relationship. 

My ex was physically going to the counseling, but his heart was never really in it. We all have to take responsibility for our shortcomings in our marriage, but some men can’t be vulnerable enough to go there.

Allow Time For Forgiveness

Forgiveness after an affair is one of the most difficult kinds of forgiveness. And especially if our spouse keeps breaking our heart over and over and over again.

I always tell women in my midlife divorce recovery classes that after infidelity, they need to put the forgiveness piece on the back-burner for awhile.

Most women need to do the grief work and the healing work before they can really deal with the forgiveness piece. 

Remember: Forgiveness is always a work in progress. So don’t feel guilty if you’re not there yet, or if you still fluctuate between wanting him back and wanting him dead!

Can A Christian Marriage Survive An Affair?

Of course, whether a Christian marriage can survive an affair depends on lots of variables. What kind of infidelity it was. How long the betrayal took place. Our marriage survived for twenty years after his first affair. So yes, a Christian marriage can survive infidelity. 

During his second (that I know of) affair, for three long agonizing years, I read the Bible and prayed and fasted and tried to find out everything I could about how to keep from strangling my husband and instead, giving him another chance. In fact, I gave him three years of chances to change. I tried everything I could think of to save our marriage including getting advice. None of it worked.

At one point, one daughter told her her mom, “Stop asking God to show you what’s in his heart! What more do you need to see? This is embarrassing! If your religion makes you stay in an abusive situation this, I don’t want any part of it!” 

I truly believed that God would bring a miracle and save our marriage. Even that last day in the courtroom when we were signing the divorce papers, I thought my husband might come over to me and say, “Suzy, what are we doing here? Let’s just go home and fix this.” But he didn’t.

However, even though God didn’t miraculously save our marriage, he was working behind the scenes all the time. He had a plan for me that is beautiful and is being lived out every single day of my life right now.


What Percentage of Marriages Survive Infidelity?

Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity?

If you’re struggling with infidelity in your marriage you may want to know…what percentage of marriages survive infidelity?

What percentage of marriages survive infidelity? As bad as you may be hurting right now, most couples (60-80%) rebuild trust and leave couples therapy with their marriages in a much better place.

After sorting and weighing several sources of data, the destructive impact of infidelity accounts for somewhere between 20-40% of American divorces.

This is a finding by the renowned researchers Dr. Andrew Christensen and Dr. Rebeca Marin-Cordero, published in 2014 by the American Psychological Association.

This study, although small, attempted to monitor couples as they moved through time in their affair recovery.

Many couples ask this question because affair recovery can be difficult work.

But what they really want to know after their odds for surviving infidelity…is what role will couples therapy play in the affair recovery process?

Before this important 2014 study, there was very little research on the effectiveness of couple therapy with couples struggling with infidelity. In this study, Marin-Cordero and Christensen carefully examined the clinical outcomes for 19 couples in affair recovery for 5 years.

These couples were assessed approximately every 6 months for 5 years after couples therapy. In this longitudinal study, the researchers focused on three possible outcomes: divorce, relationship satisfaction, and marital stability.

The couples who eventually divorced reported the highest level of marital instability. But interestingly, couples who remained married did not differ in their degree of marital stability (or satisfaction!) from couples who were not recovering from infidelity.

This finding alone strongly indicates what good couples therapist have always known, when you are working with motivated couples, affair recovery is not only possible…it’s even ly!

Remaining Married Increases Satisfaction

Marin-Cordero and Christensen also discovered that couples who remained married reported an increase in relationship satisfaction over time, regardless of whether or not they struggled with infidelity.

In other words, this research describes two possible affair recovery outcomes.

Some couples recovered from infidelity so completely that they continued to heal and repair over time to such an extent that they could not be distinguished from couples not struggling to rebuild trust after an affair.

And, of course, some couples did not improve. They could not rebuild trust and subsequently divorced.

What Percentage of Marriages Survive Infidelity? Let’s Look at the Stats…

  • 40% of American adults, (regardless of gender), who have ever cheated on their spouse, are currently separated or divorced.
  • By comparison, only 17% of American adults who have never struggled with infidelity have divorced.
  • Nearly 50% of involved (unfaithful) partners are still married to their “hurt” partners.
  • 76% of faithful spouses successfully remain married.
  • Husbands who cheated are more ly than female cheaters to remain married.
  • Of those husbands who have previously been unfaithful to their spouses, 61% are still married. 34% are no longer together (either divorced or separated). Husbands tend to survive their infidelity with their marriage intact more so than wives.
  • Only 44% of unfaithful wives are still married to their hurt partner. 47% are either separated or divorced.

Infidelity is a Powerful Stressor…

Two facts emerge from current research;

  • Couples struggling with infidelity are more ly to either separate or divorce than couples with different issues.
  • And infidelity is nowhere near the marital dealbreaker that it was in previous generations.

The points above are backed by some statistics.

One study has shown that about 21% of men cheat. Women cheat at a lower rate at only 13% (according to data from a recent General Social Survey (GSS)). 

There is no doubt that infidelity is a powerful marital stressor. But data on infidelity is all over the place, and some of the research is poorly designed.

The current consensus is that the rates of infidelity between men and women continue to balance out over time.

But men who cheat have a better chance of remaining married than women in the same situation. Is this because men are less forgiving?

Don’t Expect to Do Better Next Time…

Ironically, because you’re been unfaithful, your next marriage may not go better than your last one. When couples divorce over infidelity, there is a notoriously high rate of failure in future marriages. These are issues which “stack” on top of each other; trust issues, not committing to couples therapy early on, and struggling with a new blended family.

infidelity is also a pattern from your family of origin. Research shows that if you have been unfaithful once, you are (under certain circumstances) 3X more ly to be unfaithful again, compared to someone who has never cheated.

Most couples therapists report treating infidelity-based struggles during subsequent marriages. Sometimes at even higher rates than in first marriages. However, a recent study also shows that women who have experienced an unfaithful partner in their past, develop a deeper level of emotional intelligence that protects them in future intimate relationships.

What Percentage of Marriages Survive Infidelity? Most Do…Because Science-Based Couples Therapy Works!

Relationship satisfaction followed a somewhat similar pattern to relationship stability. Infidelity couples who remain together were indistinguishable from their chaste cohort of non-cheaters.

Marin-Cordero and Christensen found similar results to the earlier research by Atkins et al. (2010) and Gordon et al. (2004), in which the relationship satisfaction of couples working on rebuilding trust in couples therapy also reached a point of marital satisfaction equalling that of couples not in recovery from infidelity.

Numerous studies show the same stubborn fact. If your motivated to stay together after infidelity, the odds are in your favor for a healthy recovery.

A Positive Cycle of Continuous Improvement

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this study is that for many of these couples, marital satisfaction steadily improved over time, well beyond the end of their couples therapy.

Clearly whatever benefits couples therapy provided …it was way more than just a temporary fix. The benefits were measurable and long-lasting.

Couples who work through the infidelity in couples therapy had achieved and maintained significant gains in recovery years later.

Or Not?…The Science of Discovery Vs. Disclosure?

The question is how can a couple maximize their chances for a solid affair recovery?

Most couples therapists know the math of infidelity.

At least 20%, and perhaps as many as 40% of couples processing infidelity in couples therapy will break up.

But there are other critical variables; disclosure vs. discovery, the relative motivation of each spouse, type of infidelity (First time? Serial infidelity? Emotional? Sexual? Gender of the involved partner, length of the affair? Identity of the affair partner? Did the involved partner come clean quickly and completely…or were the disclosures dribbled out reluctantly?

There are also many decisional points along the way that can also impact your odds of recovery. But, all things being equal, if you’re both motivated to heal and recover, the odds are 60-80% that you will.

What Percentage of Marriages Survive Infidelity?… Some Final Thoughts

Infidelity is a serious test for marriage, and although many couples divorce over it, most couples do not.

Most couples who divorce also don’t choose to enter couples therapy.

Infidelity is heartbreaking and devastating. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage.

The research suggests that your eventual marital happiness may equal or exceed that of couples who never shared your struggle. You can recover and become stronger than ever before.

With good couples therapy, you can acquire new communication skills, build patience, and renew trust. The important promise of science-based couples therapy is that if you are highly motivated and work hard, couples therapy will pay off.

Want to know more? Ask us about a clinical assessment and Online Affair Recovery today.

Get Good Couples Therapy Online… in the Privacy of Your Own Home


Atkins, D. C., Marín, R. A., Lo, T. T. Y., Klann, N., & Hahlweg, K. (2010). Outcomes of couples with infidelity in a community-based sample of couple therapy. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 212– 216. doi:10.1037/a0018789 Baucom, D. H., Shoham, V., M.

Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C., Baucom, B., & Yi, J. (2010). Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 225–235. doi:10.1037/a0018132

Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C., Berns, S. B., Wheeler, J., Baucom, D. H., & Simpson, L. (2004). Integrative versus traditional behavioral couple therapy for moderately and severely distressed married couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72

Gordon, K. C., Baucom, D. H., & Snyder, D. K. (2004). An integrative intervention for promoting recovery from extramarital affairs. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30, 213–231. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01235.x

Marín, R. A., Christensen, A., & Atkins, D. C. (2014).  Infidelity and behavioral couple therapy: Relationship outcomes over 5 years following therapy. Couple and Family Psychology:  Research and Practice, 3, 1-12.

Sevier, M., Atkins, D. H., Doss, B. D., & Christensen, A. (2015).  Up and down or down and up? The process of change in constructive couple behavior during traditional and integrative behavioral couple therapy.  Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41, 113–127.


When to Walk Away After Infidelity: 7 Signs It Might Be Time To Leave

Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity?

This is the third article in our seven part Causes of Divorce series. Links to the following articles are at the bottom of the page.

Cheating is undeniably one of the most difficult things that you and your spouse could ever face. If your marriage has been through it, then you’re all too familiar with the anxiety, anger, and devastation that often follows. This whirlwind of negative emotions isn’t helped by the fact that it’s sometimes really hard to figure out when to walk away after infidelity.

In fact, that’s a difficult call to make in all kinds of marital betrayals. After all, infidelity doesn’t always look a plain old adulterous affair. Maybe your spouse had an emotional affair. Maybe you’ve even been a victim of financial infidelity. Whatever you’re going through, there are big decisions to be made. Divorce is a scary prospect, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.

You probably still have love for your spouse, but is love enough? Let’s talk about seven specific signs that you might be better off moving on from a cheater instead of sticking it out.

It won't take long, the process is clear, and customer support will help you with any questions

1. Your Partner Doesn’t Apologize

If your spouse betrays you in this way but then refuses to express any remorse, they’re basically telling you that the marriage is over. Even if they don’t think cheating is such a grave relationship sin, they should still be concerned enough for your feelings to apologize.

Words are free, and if they can’t find the will to say they’re sorry, you have no reason to believe that your relationship will get any better in the future. It’s looking more and more your partner might not be such a good person, and you should get out before they hurt you again.

2. Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Get Counseling

When it comes to saving your relations, marriage counseling is your single greatest resource. If your partner simply refuses to give it a try, then you have a big problem on your hands.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are reasons that cheaters avoid couples therapy besides just apathy. A lot of people (especially men) aren’t used to talking about their feelings, but it can also get a lot more complicated than that.

For instance, if your cheating spouse is religious and believes that adultery goes against God’s word, then they might feel it’s trivial to talk to a therapist before they get right with God.

That’s why you might have to do a little bit of probing in order to find out what exactly the issue is.

If you’ve gotten to the bottom of it but your unfaithful spouse still won’t budge, then your hope of getting through this rough patch is greatly diminished. We encourage you to look into professional help for yourself at that point, so that you can avoid some of the biggest mistakes that newly separated people make.

3. Your Partner Doesn’t Show Desire to Put in the Work

Maybe your spouse agreed to attend therapy with you, but you can tell that they’re only giving you lip service. Even the best therapist can’t help a couple recover from cheating if both parties aren’t willing to open up. If you’re stuck with a spouse who has just been going through the motions ever since their affair came to light, then it’s probably time to get unstuck.

4. They are Still in Touch with the Person They Cheated on You With

This scenario is the epitome of adding insult to injury. Your partner owns up to an affair, insists it’s over, and then thinks that their (supposedly) former lover makes for an appropriate friend.

Even if the affair really is over, this behavior demonstrates an incredible lack of respect for you and your feelings, and you shouldn’t stand for it. You’ve been traumatized by this affair, and you shouldn’t have to be reminded of it constantly.

Calling it quits with your spouse because they maintain contact with the person they cheated on you with doesn’t make you jealous; it makes you sane.

5. Your Partner Doesn’t Seem Committed to the Relationship

Since their cheating came to light, maybe your partner has been responsive to all of your suggestions for how to repair your marriage, but they haven’t come up with any ideas of their own.

Someone who truly wants to work through things should seem enthusiastic and engaged with the healing process; passively going along just isn’t enough. If your partner doesn’t seem completely committed to making things work, things won’t work.

If you find yourself pulling all of the relationship weight, it’s time to unburden yourself and find someone who thinks you’re worth the effort.

6. They Lie Time and Time Again

We all know the cliché that comes up whenever a married man cheats on his wife: “once a cheater, always a cheater.” In truth, that isn’t really always the case, but if there is a pattern of dishonesty and deceit in your marriage, you probably won’t ever be able to trust your spouse, and it’s time to save yourself the angst.

This holds true even if your partner doesn’t seem to be lying about anything that important anymore.

Once your trust is eroded by an affair, even small lies can be really triggering, because they remind you of the betrayal you experienced.

This doesn’t give you any opportunity to rebuild trust and move on together. That’s why repeated dishonesty might be a reason to get divorced and start over with somebody else.

7. The Cheater Won’t Take Responsibility and Instead Blames Others

It’s obviously true that cheating doesn’t emerge thin air. We’re all products of our childhood, and we all have the capacity to act out when we feel dissatisfied. However, if your spouse points to other people to justify why they cheated, your relationship might not be worth saving.

This behavior is particularly despicable if you’re the person that your spouse is blaming for their infidelity. They put you through one of the most painful experiences of your life, and now they’re telling you that it was your fault?! If that’s the message that you’re receiving, then your  spouse is treating you with a level of hostility that precludes reconciliation.

This might be a dealbreaker no matter who they say is to blame, though. If your partner insists that it wasn’t their fault that they cheated, they’re telling you that there isn’t anything they can do to prevent it from happening again. Until they take responsibility, you’ll never get the peace of mind you need to move on with your life.

Now that you’ve put some thought into whether your own relationship can or should survive infidelity, let's address some of the facts. The collective wisdom of those who have been in your position before can give you insight into possible next steps. Maybe you’ll even gain some understanding of where you and your spouse fit into the bigger picture.

What are the divorce statistics after infidelity?

After an affair partner trust is eroded, but that doesn’t always mean immediate divorce.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that among married couples who experienced infidelity but then underwent couples therapy, 53% were divorced after 5 years.

By comparison, only 23% of couples who did not experience an affair were divorced after 5 years, which is a huge disparity. Still, these numbers show that marital infidelity is not a relationship death sentence.

What’s interesting is that in heterosexual partnerships, whether it’s the man or the woman who does the cheating seems to have a big impact.

In a survey conducted by Health Testing Centers, 20% of cheating women and only 10% of cheating men reported that they were still in the relationship in which the affair occurred. Thus, it’s possible that you’re more ly to reconcile if it’s the husband’s affair as opposed to the wife’s.

The survey results don’t indicate whether this is because the men were more prone to forgiveness or if the women were just better at hiding the fact that they were cheating. 

Unfortunately, the statistics also show that a husband’s infidelity is a lot more ly to occur than his wife’s. While only 13% of women surveyed by the Institute for Family Studies reported that they had cheated on their spouse, 20% of men admitted that they had been unfaithful. This leaves a lot of marriages at risk.

It’s important to remember that you are not a statistic, and your results may vary. Ultimately, it is up to you and your husband or wife to decide whether you will be able to survive this betrayal, find forgiveness, and preserve your marriage.

How long does a marriage last after infidelity?

Actually, the answer depends largely on whether or not the extramarital affair comes to light.

Remember the APA study we talked about in the last question? While overall, 53% of the couples who experienced infidelity had filed for divorce by the five year mark, the breakdown between secret and revealed infidelity was stark.

Five years after undergoing therapy, only 43% of couples who revealed and worked through their past indiscretions had opted for divorce, while a whopping 80% of couples whose marriages contained secret affairs were no longer together.

On the surface, these numbers seem a little bit surprising. After all, if the betrayed partner doesn’t know about their spouse’s infidelity, it can’t hurt them, right? Wrong. As it turns out, lies and deceit don’t exactly make for a healthy relationship.

Furthermore, when a cheating spouse admits to an affair, it usually means that the affair is over. By confessing to the infidelity, the unfaithful partner is often indicating that they are ready to live their life in a committed relationship once again.

If their spouse can find forgiveness and also move on, then there might be a lot of hope for the relationship yet.

What are the stages of healing after infidelity?

Every betrayed spouse has experienced some level of grief after learning of their partner’s infidelity. Luckily, there is an art to affair recovery, and there is a recipe for feeling better, forgiving your partner, and moving on with your life.

Currently, the Gottman Institute (founded by relationship expert Dr. John Gottman) is beginning a randomized clinical trial to test the effectiveness of what they call the Trust Revival Method, in which the stages of healing from an affair are described as Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment. 

In the Atonement stage, the betrayed partner has an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions about the affair, and the cheating partner is encouraged to really hear them, answer honestly, and express remorse.

In the Attunement stage, both members of the relationship work together to analyze what went wrong and outline better ways of dealing with each other.

Finally, in the Attachment stage, the parties work on bonding and rebuilding their relationship.

No two couples are the same, so your road to recovery is very individual to you. However, this strategy can go a long way toward healing and moving on with your life.

Should you stay married after infidelity?

If this article has taught you anything, it’s that only you can decide when to walk away after infidelity.

If you think a little extra wisdom from the experts will help, then check out these great TED Talks that we recommend for anyone considering divorce.

Then, look deeply into your own feelings, talk openly with your partner, and decide whether you’re already living in a broken marriage, or the love is still alive.

In the next article of this series, we discuss emotional affairs and texting.

Go to this page about online divorce to learn more.


1 Marín, R. A.,  Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C. (2014). Infidelity and Behavioral Couple Therapy: Relationship Outcomes Over 5 Years Following Therapy. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 3(1).

2 Id.



5 Marín, R. A.,  Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C. (2014). Infidelity and Behavioral Couple Therapy: Relationship Outcomes Over 5 Years Following Therapy. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 3(1).


Добавить комментарий

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: