Can A Marriage Survive An Affair?

Can A Marriage Survive An Affair? When an extramarital affair is discovered, a crisis exist. Now the question is can this relationship continue? In more than half the cases, the relationship does end but depending on how this crisis is dealt with by both partners, the relationship does have a chance to continue. In some cases, this crisis serves as a relationship awakening event that opens the door to self-examination and honest communication that may make the relationship even stronger. The most destructive threat to committed relationships is when one of the partners engages in a sexual relationship with another person. Conservative estimates suggest that about a quarter of women, and a third of men, have violated their marital commitment to their partners. About 65 percent of marriages struck by infidelity end in divorce. Whether infidelity leads to a breakup or divorce, or at the other extreme, a more positive outcome with a stronger commitment and better communication depends on many factors.

Can A Marriage Survive An Affair?

One important variable is whether the partner who cheated came from a family with infidelity. People with parents who were unfaithful are at higher risk for infidelity within their own relationships. This is certainly not always the case as many people from these families are determined never to repeat their parent’s mistake. We learn a lot from our families of origin.  One of which is to copy the behavior of our parents  and sometimes to act out our unresolved issues.

Another factor that may determine whether a relationship can survive infidelity is the nature of the affair.  Some affairs lack emotional commitment, while others involve a deeper level of intimacy and connection that is found within the primary relationship. While a marriage or relationship may survive the former, as long as the underlying issues are brought out into the open and worked through, the latter type is not as hopeful. The couple would have to put in a great deal of work to save this relationship.

Life After an Affair

Many marriages are unable to survive infidelity.   Approximately 31% of marriages survive infidelity and come out even stronger after the crisis.

The first course of action when you learn about your partner’s infidelity is to find a Marriage Counselor who specializes in Affair Recovery.  A counselor who doesn’t specialize in Affair Recovery will be less likely to help guide you through the process as you try to cope with the emotional turmoil that accompanies this crisis. You will need to make rational decisions during a very difficult time, and depending on whether your decision is to “Stay or Go,” your therapist will help you go through the stages of the decision-making process in a supportive and thoughtful manner.  Couples have little experience on how to rebuild their lives after infidelity devastation occurs.  Marriage Counseling and its therapeutic support is an invaluable part of the process.

We need to examine why the affair occurred and make a decision about whether we feel we can remain in the relationship. We need to examine our partner’s motive for engaging in infidelity. We need to see how the affair is going to affect the relationship in the future, and whether we can live with that. We need to decide whether communication can be enhanced in the event that we decide to repair the problems. We need to examine both the positive and negative aspects of divorce (in general, divorce is a profoundly painful experience for most people, including the children).

If the primary relationship is to have any chance of surviving, the affair needs to end. If the affair continues, the straying partner would likely not have the emotional energy or motivation to repair the damage done to the primary relationship.  As a Marriage and Couples Counselor in San Diego I help couples who are dealing with the aftermath of discovery of an affair and help them sort out what to do next.

So to answer the question, “can a marriage survive an affair?”  The answer is “yes.” If you need guidance in determining whether your marriage can survive an affair please call me at (858) 735-1139 or email me at

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