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Can a Marriage Survive When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful?

Finding out your partner was unfaithful to you might be one of the most heartbreaking moments. Infidelity can shake a relationship to its core. It can be shocking, confusing, mind-numbing, and even angering. In the midst of the situation, there might be some never-ending questions surfacing in a person's mind.

Why me? Why did they cheat? Did I cause this? Am I not good enough? Am I worthy of love and respect? How do I/we survive this? Where did it all go wrong? Was everything just a lie?

The great memories you shared don't feel real anymore. You begin to overthink the past and question current behaviors. Can your marriage survive when your partner has been unfaithful?

Read on to learn when a marriage can survive after a partner has been unfaithful.

What is Considered Infidelity?

First, it is important to consider what infidelity is. This seems like an easy answer for many—however, it depends on the relationship. There are many types of relationships, dynamics, and backgrounds that affects how people think about certain situations.

For instance, some couples view pornography as common or normal; meanwhile others have different views of sex depending on upbringing or a previous experience.

It is important for couples to discuss what infidelity is and what is considered boundary crossing. Is having female or male friends acceptable? What about following certain accounts on social media? Use of pornography? This includes views on monogamy as well.

With discussing these topics, couples can clarify expectations early. Don’t forget to discuss the physical and emotional aspects.

Reasons Why Some Partners are Unfaithful

One or both spouses in 41 percent of marriages admit to physical or emotional infidelity. 22 percent of married men admit to straying at least once whereas married women are at 14 percent. Here are several reasons why people cheat:

1. Dissatisfaction in the Relationship

Couples in struggling relationships may fight every day about significant and minuscule issues. These may range from finances, co-parenting, chores, misplaced priorities, or where to spend the holidays. Others feel dissatisfied with the lack of quality time, feeling seen, and/or intimacy.

This collapse in emotional connection can lead one to turn elsewhere or seek new partners to fill the void. New connections may reignite the spark they crave or seek in their current relationships.

2. Situational Reasons

The risk of infidelity rises in specific situations. For example, the CDC reports that excessive drinking leads to risky sexual behaviors. This may include having sex with multiple partners or failing to use protection.

3. An Individual's Nature or Personality Traits

Some people cheat because it's their nature. The body releases the hormone dopamine during pleasurable moments. Scientists believe gene variations play a role in infidelity and sexual promiscuity. It feels unnatural to curb their instincts in favor of a monogamous relationship. As such, they don't hesitate when extramarital opportunities arise.

4. Cultural Changes

Changes in culture continue defining what is now acceptable to the public. These changes are due to factors such as the internet, the media’s portrayal on marriage, and the quick pace of dating apps.

Thus, we see people who choose open relationships—with or without their partners knowledge. Furthermore, people have the ability to disconnect just as quickly as they connect or shy away from commitment.

These changing attitudes or views of marriages are putting more pressure on couples. In the end, their commitment to one another will depend on many factors—including whether one remains faithful.

Recovering From Infidelity in Marriage

Infidelity can make spouses feel grief, anxiety, stress, anger, and/or insignificant. Other affects may be distrust, retaliation, depression, and obsessing over the betrayal.

It creates an environment that threatens the well-being and safety of the spouses. Moreover, it harms extended family relationships and friendships. If you are a prominent person, it brings shame.

Can a marriage survive when a partner is unfaithful? It depends on several factors. If the couple is willing to find solutions, there are some steps they can consider. These include:

1. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the glue that binds relationships and helps people overcome their differences. It allows people to release pain, shame, and feelings of injustice. It breaks down the barriers that hinder growth in a relationship.

Without forgiveness, you remain a victim of the betrayal and of the relationship. Forgiveness opens the room for dialogue. It doesn't mean you have forgotten the pain. It is an opportunity to begin the process of repairing the damage. That's not to say it will be easy.

2. Taking Responsibility

It will take time before the raw emotions subside. Once that happens, the partners should find a way to talk. The partner who committed the infidelity has to take responsibility for their actions.

The first step is to end the affair immediately. Second, the couple should talk about why the affair happened. Being brutally honest reveals every hidden thought or feelings. The partner who strayed has to show a change in attitude. They must want to make things right. It is one of the steps for beginning the process of rebuilding trust.

The other partner has to feel comfortable enough to come out of their layer of protection. It's human nature to guard ourselves against the possibility of more pain. Thus, be patient as you work out the problems in your relationship.

3. Confide in a Marriage Counselor

While running to our friends during times of distress works, it may not be a good idea in cases of infidelity. Disingenuous people might share this confidential information with other people. This causes shame and embarrassment, which is the last thing you need in this trying time.

Instead, schedule with a reputable marriage counselor for guidance through the process. A therapist can create a positive environment where both spouses can talk about their relationship.

Another benefit of a counselor is to help you fix the root of the infidelity. People try to move on from affairs instead of dealing with the reasons why the affairs began. Sometimes, the cause won't be clear to either of you, but through the counseling process, you will unearth and resolve underlying issues.

4. Set Aside Time for Recovery and Rebuilding the Marriage

The betrayed partner needs time to recover. Thus, the unfaithful partner should give them time and space to work out their feelings. It is a painful process.

Both partners need to discuss their roles in rebuilding the relationship. Old foundations may reignite bad memories. New foundations for the relationship need to be based on respect and commitment. Define your expectations going forward.

While rebuilding the relationship, you may discover you are no longer invested in it. In that case, you should be honest with your partner. It is a sign that it may be time to move on.

Learn More About Relationships and Counseling

Finding out about an unfaithful partner can be traumatizing. Many couples manage to work through this betrayal and establish stronger bonds. If both of you are willing to fight for your relationship, there's a chance you can make things right.

If you are unsure where to start or how to start this process, reach out for counseling services. We are here to help!

To book our counseling and coaching services visit:


Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Cincinnati therapist and a Cincinnati Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Cincinnati and Cincinnati Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety.

Sam was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English And Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today,,

Naya Clinics is a top-rated Marriage Counseling, therapy and Life coaching practice.

Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world.

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