Is It Better To Divorce Or To Stay Married After The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from women who aren’t sure what to do about their marriage after their husband cheats or has an affair.  Some of them genuinely want to save their marriage, but they aren’t sure if this is going to be possible – or even healthy.

I heard from a wife who said: “I know this is a huge cliche, but my husband had a long term affair with his secretary.  Once I found out, she left her job because she told my husband that she couldn’t face me.  So I am reasonably confident that she is now out of the picture.  But although I would like to save my marriage, I’m not sure if this is going to be possible.  I have a friend who stayed married after her husband’s affair and she is so angry and miserable with him. She says the issues of the affair come up on a regular basis.  It’s clear neither of them have been able to move on and that they are both extremely unhappy.  She tells me that she thinks they would have both been better off it they had divorced because there is really no way to truly get over the infidelity.  Is she right?  I really want to save my marriage but maybe it is better to just cut my losses and get a divorce after this kind of betrayal before I waste all this time trying to save my marriage but end up being miserable anyway.”

I couldn’t tell this wife if it was going to be better for her if she went ahead and got a divorce.  Because that was a decision that only she could make.  But what I could do is share my experiences so that she may have more insight into this situation, which I will do below.

A Divorce Isn’t A Given After An Affair:  It may surprise you when I tell you this, but many couples do not divorce after infidelity.  I realize that it’s a common perception that divorce usually follows an affair, but this just isn’t the case.  Many couples do chose to remain married for a variety of reasons.

Staying Married Is Different Than Staying Happy:  With this said, some of those marriages stay together, but they never really fully recover.  Anger and resentment remain.  The affair is never really worked through so that the issues continue to come up.  One or both people will try to make little digs or say things to hurt the other.  The trust is never really restored so the faithful spouse never really feels at ease and always feels as if they must “check up” on their spouse.  This too leads to resentment.

So this is probably what the friend alluded to when she said that she felt she would be better off divorced.  Her marriage had never recovered to where it was healthy, happy and fulfilling so of course she felt that way.

In My Opinion, If You Can Improve Or Rebuild Your Marriage, There’s No Need To Automatically Divorce:  Some people really do commit to rebuilding after an affair.  They don’t want to settle for a marriage that is just limping along.  They want to be happily married again and they vow to not stop until they accomplish this.  So for those folks (and I consider myself in this category,) it was definitely better for them to stay married because the marriage actually improved due to the work they did after the affair.

Of course, every one’s experience is different.  That is why there is no one right or wrong answer for every couple.  Some people just can’t bring themselves to forgive.  And some marriages just don’t recover.  But the good new here is that many are able to do both.  If I were to try to answer the question posed, my honest response (and this is only my opinion) is that for me, it was better to stay married than get divorced because I was able to rebuild my marriage to where I am happier right now than I believe I would have been divorced.  However, if my marriage had become an empty shell of itself to where I was bitter, miserable, and resentful, then I am not sure that I would have wanted to stay in that situation.

Luckily, my reality is that I am again happily married.  I’m so glad I didn’t get divorced.  I would have missed out on so much if I had.  I won’t tell you that recovery and rebuilding was easy.   But I will tell you that it was worth it.  If it helps, you can read the story of my recovery on my blog at

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