Can People Remain Faithful After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s probably one of the biggest concerns that I hear about after the affair (and it’s a concern that I had myself:) Can the spouse who cheated remain faithful if you give him (or her) one more chance?  Many people would ideally like to save their marriage after infidelity, but they know that they don’t want to ever repeat this process again.  The fear of having the cheating happen more than once can sometimes be equal to your wish that your marriage can be saved.  Because let’s face it.  Who wants to live a life where you are always worried that your spouse is eventually going to cheat on you again?  Which leads us to the question: Can people be faithful after an affair?

Well, I know many people who have.  And I know some people who haven’t.  But you don’t have to take my unscientific opinion about it as even close to fact.  We can look at statistics to tell us a little more.

Recent Statistics On Repeat Cheating: A 2014 study conducted from students at Denver University found that participants in the study who admitted to being unfaithful while in a serious relationship in the past were more likely to cheat again in the future. Specifically, 45 percent of people who cheated at least once went on to cheat again. Now, I do have one concern about this study.  The participants were not all married. The only criteria was that the respondent felt that they were in a serious relationship.  I wonder if the numbers would not have been a little lower if all of the recipients were married and the people involved knew they might end up divorced if they cheated again.

In any event, although a concerning amount of respondents did cheat again, the majority (around 55 percent) did not.  So what is the difference between the two groups?  The study did not look at the specific reasons for cheating and therefore could not predict who (or who might not) cheat again in the future.

But my theory on this would be the repeat offender has never rehabilitated the risk factors that caused cheating in the first place.  Identifying that risk is very important.  Some people cheat for sexual reasons.  Some cheat for emotional reasons.  Some cheat to boost self esteem.  Some are depressed or feel undeserving. Some cheat because they don’t know how to get excitement in their lives other than to participate in risky behaviors.  Others cheat because they have grown up in a culture or environment that condones or expects it.

Minimizing The Odds: In order for you to be secure that your spouse won’t cheat again, you both need to identity EVERY risk factor and address it.  Why did he cheat? And what safeguards will be put in place to keep him faithful in the future?  Admittedly, none of us can watch over our spouses 24 / 7 and we shouldn’t want to, but if someone is repeatedly cheating on business trips, or when going out with certain friends, or in other identifiable scenarios, then those scenarios have to be removed or changed.

Also, I think that in some situations, you have to figure out if you are working with a person who is really serious about having a healthy marriage and who understands the risk that cheating again will incur.  Some people just pay lip service during recovery.  It’s vital that you watch carefully and make sure that this isn’t the case.  I would never advocate threatening your spouse or giving ultimatums.  But your spouse should very clearly understand that cheating again might mean that he doesn’t get a second chance.

Finally, I can not stress enough how important it is to build up your marriage.  One thing that we can’t control is the stressors that are going to inevitably come our way.  You can count on your marriage one day being tested.  That’s just the way that life works.  You can’t control what will test you.  But what you can control is the way that you work together (while getting help if you need it) to rebuild.  If you don’t fix any outstanding issues, or you don’t restore the trust, or you’re living in a house where resentment remains, then you are going to be more vulnerable when those stressors arise.

But to answer the original question, yes, people absolutely can remain faithful.  Plenty do. And plenty do not.  If this is a concern (and let’s face it, this is a concern for all of us,) then you should not hesitate to do the work to do everything in your power to ensure that your spouse is in the majority – which is the percentage that does remain faithful.  Because no one wants to go through the pain of infidelity all over again.

Trusting that my husband wouldn’t cheat again was a concern of mine initially.  Believing that I could one day drop my paranoia was also a concern (because I developed an almost-constant paranoia initially.)  But I decided to move forward and see what happened, mainly because of my children.  My husband demonstrated that he was very serious about making things right.  He did everything that he promised and we did recover.  And we have never repeated the process.  It truly was a one-time thing, just as he promised.  That is why I do think that some people can remain faithful.  But I do believe that it takes rebuilding, determination, and self awareness.   There’s more about the process of rebuilding on my blog at

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