Can Some Men Have Only One Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are just beginning to attempt to come to terms with their husband’s affair. Often, they are at the stage where they are trying to determine if they can ever trust their husband again and, if so, if this means that they are going to chose to attempt to save their marriage. And often, one very big concern that they have is whether or not their spouse is ever going to cheat again. They wonder if one episode of cheating means that he won’t ever be faithful or if he will continue to have more affairs.

An example of the type of comment that I might hear is something like: “my husband had an affair a couple of months ago. We’ve been to counseling. He seems very remorseful. I truly would like to improve our marriage so that we are able to reconcile and stay together. I still love him and we have children. But I am so afraid that he will cheat again. I do not know if I could go through this another time. And I know that if he betrayed me again, I could never continue to live with him. So part of me thinks that if I still with him, I am just delaying the inevitable. My mother says that once a man cheats on you, he’s shown you who he really is and that he will never be able to be faithful again. She says that very few men don’t have another affair. However, our counselor has given us hope that this just isn’t true. She feels that with some work, my husband can be rehabilitated and will be faithful for the long haul. Who is right?”

My opinion isn’t based on my being an expert. I have to make that clear. I’m not a counselor, but I do have an opinion on this based on my own life experiences and from the couples who leave comments on my blog. I believe that the answer to this question is that it depends on many factors.  Both scenarios are possible.

I have seen men promise not to cheat on their wives and literally say that they would rather jump in front of a speeding bus than cheat again. And yet, years down the road, they are dealing with yet another infidelity even though they meant their words when they were promising to be faithful.

I’ve also seen men who cheated once turn out to be completely faithful, loyal, and loving husbands for the rest of their lives. Some would say that the difference is that perhaps the faithful man never met another woman with whom he wanted to cheat, so he remained faithful sort of by default. I don’t believe this for a minute. I believe that the husbands who turn out to cheat once and to never cheat again are the husbands who learn better impulse control, learn to not place themselves in tempting positions, and learn to communicate with their wife in more efficient ways so that their marriage isn’t left vulnerable.

On the other hand, men who continue to cheat never learn new skills and never commit to controlling their impulses or to removing themselves from situations that have already shown themselves to be at risk. That’s not to say that repeat cheaters do not love their spouses or that they do not have good intentions. It’s just that they never learned the skills that are necessary to remain faithful. They have some flaws that they never fully dealt with to the agree needed for change.

I didn’t know this couple, but it sounded to me like they were doing everything right. It sounded as if the husband were willing to learn new skills and that both of them were willing to seek out professional help to guide them toward the changes and improvements that were going to rehabilitate the marriage. In my opinion and experience, these are the marriages that have the greatest chance of making it and these remorseful and motivated husbands are the ones who are the least likely to cheat again.

I know that you what you really want is a guarantee that your husband won’t cheat again. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get that. But, what you can do is to make sure you very aggressively uncover what went wrong and fix it. You can make sure that you make every effort toward rehabilitation and you do everything in your power to keep your marriage strong and free of vulnerabilities and temptations. And you make sure that the cheating spouse has learned new coping mechanisms and behaviors. These things go a long way toward giving you the best possible chance of not having to repeat this.

And with that done, the rest is just a matter of faith. But I can tell you that it is not at all uncommon for me to hear from a couple who had only one incidence of infidelity in their marriage and then went on to heal and be very happy and in a long lasting marriage that only ended when one of them passed away.

That is my goal also – to never have to deal with infidelity again.  And I truly believe that we are well on our way.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

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