Is A Long Term Affair A Serious Threat To A Marriage?

By: Katie Lersch: We’ve probably all heard of couples who live their whole married lives with one or both of them having someone else “on the side.” Many people don’t understand how such a marriage could survive, but some do. However, when it is your own marriage that you are talking about, your judgements about this can change.

A wife might say: “my husband has been having an affair for almost two years. For the longest time, he denied it. So I couldn’t really deal with it because I didn’t have any real proof. But about six months ago, the other woman called me and she confirmed that they’ve been at it for a while. She tried to reassure me that she didn’t want to take my husband away. She is married also and she says that neither of them have any intention of leaving their families. My husband is now saying that he isn’t going to let her go, but he doesn’t see why it can’t work out for everyone. He says that he doesn’t want to end our marriage. He feels that things can just go along like they have been. He says that our marriage doesn’t need to be negatively affected. I don’t really buy this, but I’m not sure what I can do when he’s refusing to end it. One of my friends says her mother and father both had other people during their entire marriage and yet they were married for fifty years until one of them passed away. She says that a long term affair doesn’t have to be a serious threat to a marriage. Is she right?”

Well, I suppose that this would depend upon the people involved. As I alluded to before, apparently, there are some marriages that manage to survive this arrangement. And as long as every one involved is feeling happy and loved, then who am I to judge?  I know that this arrangement would not work for me personally, but I can’t speak for every one else.

I would think, however, that many women might have a hard time with this.  And it sounded like the wife in this scenario had some serious doubts and concerns about this situation. I would have to think that although a marriage can make it if the married couple agrees to stay together, I can not imagine how it wouldn’t negatively affect your marriage. Because one person is going outside of the marriage, the trust has got to be eroded. And the faithful spouse must feel like she’s not getting her husband’s complete loyalty and commitment.

I would think that the resentments about this (and potentially the avoidance of talking about it) would take a toll on your marriage and would weigh on you personally. But again, I’m only guessing. Everyone is different and I suppose some people manage to not only live in this situation, but also be content.

I guess the real question is what is the happiness level in the marriage. Sure, anyone can stay married by deciding not to get divorced. But what kind of marriage is it? I would think it would be a shell of its former self. I would think that it would be damaged by resentments and betrayals but again, who am I to judge anyone else’s marriage?

That’s not to say that a marriage can’t be healed regardless of what damages it. But I’d imagine it would be hard to heal if the infidelity was ongoing. I would think that you might make some progress – only to see damage as the affair continues to go on.  To me, the real healing can begin once you know that there is no one else and the affair is over, but everyone is different.

And I’ve never been in this wife’s shoes. My own husband ended his affair. I believe that this was necessary in order for us to heal. I would not have been willing to attempt to save my marriage if this weren’t the case.

But if the arrangement works for this couple, then really it is no one’s business but their own. However, the wife’s reaching out could indicate that it’s not really working out for her and that she has concerns about this. If that is the case, I’d encourage her to be honest. Because it’s not fair for her not to have a voice in this. It is her marriage and it is her life. And she doesn’t have to accept what doesn’t work for her without trying to renegotiate.

I felt that my husband’s affair was a serious threat to my marriage and I insisted that it end immediately.  I know that not everyone has that luxury.  But regardless of the choices that your husband makes, no one can stop you from working on and caring for yourself.  To me, that’s the best thing that you could possibly do – since no one can take that away from you. You can read more on my blog at

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