A Long Term Affair Or A One Night Stand: Which Is Worse For Your Marriage?

I’m actually asked this question quite a bit.  Wives whose husband had a long term affair often tell me that they wish he’d had a quick fling or a one night stand instead.  I often hear comments like “I think I could accept this more if he’d had a one night stand.  At least then I would know that there weren’t any deep emotions involved.  I almost think I could accept him having sex one time with someone else if I at least knew that he wasn’t in love with them or cared for them.  Him having an emotional connection with someone else is worse, at least to me, than him having one time sex with someone else.”

On the other side of the coin, some wives don’t agree with this. Wives whose husband had a one night stand will say things like: “what kind of person has sex with someone that they don’t care about?  Heck, he really knew nothing about her whatsoever, but yet that was enough for him to have the most intimate act of all with her.  It’s such a turn off to me to think that he could just basically have sex with a stranger.  What does that say about the type of person he is?”

As you can see, there are most definitely issues in both types of cheating.  And both can do significant damage to a marriage.  Both require work and lots of patience to recover from.  I will discuss this more in the following article.

Whether It Was Full Blown Long Term Affair Or A One Night Stand, Infidelity Is Infidelity:  No matter what type of cheating took place, it is still a betrayal and this is often how wives will treat it.  I sometimes hear from husbands (my own included) who will say things like: “but it didn’t mean anything at all to me.  It meant nothing.  I would take it back if I could, but I can’t.  How can I get my wife to see that she is who matters to me?”

It can be hard for a wife to see past the betrayal (especially in the beginning.) I often tell these husbands they have a lot of work to do to reestablish the trust.  Because to many wives, a betrayal is a betrayal no matter what the circumstances were surrounding it. 

And often, no matter how long the betrayal lasted, you will need to do the work necessary to rehabilitate the marriage.  Recovery time often does  not reflect the length of the betrayal, even if sometimes the cheating spouse wish that it did.

In Terms Of Harm To Your Marriage, Many People See A Long Term Affair As Harder To Overcome:  Things may be different in your marriage and you may have a different opinion.  But, from the correspondence that I get (and what I know from my research and own experience,) the long term affair can be more difficult for many marriages.

I believe that the reason for this is that the deception and betrayal went on for so long that it’s nearly impossible to claim that the husband was acting on impulse or making a split second decision.  Instead, he deceived the wife over a long period of time and wives see this as very calculated and deliberate.

Many wives tell me that they think that the longer an affair went on for, the harder it is to recover.  Knowing that your husband repeatedly came back for more and laid an emotional foundation with some else is just hard to comprehend and process.

That’s not to say that it can’t be overcome.  I know of countless couples who have done it and now completely believe that their marriages are stronger as the result.  But, the amount of work and rehabilitation takes a bit longer and both people really do need to EVENTUALLY be committed to seeing it through.

To me, there’s really no “better” or “worse” type of cheating.  It’s all a betrayal and it all takes some doing to over come.  But many women see emotional cheating as even worse than physical cheating and it’s hard to deny that emotions and bonding were not involved in a long term affair.

And often because there was some emotion involved, the spouse who cheated may be more confused and conflicted when the affair ends.  It may not be as easy for them to walk away or make a clean break, so that’s just one more issue added to the mix that must be overcome.

My husband’s affair was not long term, but it shook me to my core  just the same (and we had to do A LOT of rehabilitation before I even began to have faith in him again.)  But today, our marriage is actually better than it was before.  I don’t worry he’ll cheat again.  If it helps, you can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com .  And if you’re having trouble moving past the cheating, you may want to consider the free e course on the right side of this blog.

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