Is It True That Infidelity Can Be Good For A Marriage?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are trying to either find justification of infidelity or they are trying to look on the bright side.  Here are some examples. I might hear from a man who has decided to cheat on his wife.   He will say something like: “my wife doesn’t meet my needs anymore.  My marriage is a joke. We are never intimate and I feel resentful.  But I don’t want to abandon my kids.  So I feel like if I get my needs met somewhere else, this will allow me to tolerate and stay in the marriage.  In this way, the infidelity will be a good thing because we will both be more happy.”

Another example from a wife would be something like: “my husband had an affair but is now saying he wants to save my marriage.  My mother says that regardless of what he says now, our marriage is over.  She says that marriages just can’t recover from this type of betrayal.  But I keep reading things that say that if you handle things correctly, infidelity can actually be good for your marriage.   Is this true. If we work really hard, will this actually end up being beneficial for us and for our marriage?  I’m trying to find one shred of positive information, but my mom says I’m refusing to accept reality.”  I’ll tell you my opinion on this in the following article.

I would never encourage someone to cheat in order to stay in their marriage.  The thought process that you can fulfill your needs somewhere while happily saying in your marriage is extremely unrealistic.  People who subscribe to this theory will tell you that by being unfaithful, everyone is happy.  The truth is, every one isn’t usually happy for the long term.  Eventually, the truth comes out.  And a marriage based on this type of lie isn’t really much of a marriage at all, in my opinion.  If you are looking for justification to cheat, then the whole “infidelity is good for a marriage” justification is not a valid one, at least in my experience and opinion.  If you’re looking to do something positive in your marriage in order to stay together, tell your spouse the truth and consider seeking counseling or at least educating yourself on improving or saving your marriage.  This strategy is so much better than risking your marriage.

With all of this said, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with trying to find some silver lining when your spouse had an affair.  As someone who has dealt with infidelity, I can tell you that there are often some good things that become possible through recovery.  For example, you typically improve your communication with your spouse and you learn not to take your spouse or your marriage for granted.  When something is threatened, sometimes we value it more and we learn how to protect it.  In these ways, you actually do get some benefit from the recovery process.

I have to admit that there have been some good things for myself personally and for my marriage which have come out of this process.  I have regained my confidence.  I have defined what I do and do not want.  I have learned to keep my marriage strong and to address small issues before they become big ones.  I have learned that my husband is willing to do just about anything to keep us together.  And I’ve learned that good marriages can survive very bad things.

However, with all of this said, if I’d had the choice to get all of these benefits or turn back time and have my husband be faithful and us get some help before the infidelity, of course I would chose the faithful husband.  So to answer to the question posed, while some improvements and some positive things can come out of recovery from infidelity, this should never be a justification for cheating.  To be quite honest, the best thing is to never cheat in the first place but to do everything in your power to address issues within your marriage and within yourself BEFORE any infidelity happens.

Sometimes, however, this just isn’t possible.  Sometimes you are in a situation where your spouse has cheated and you have to pick up the pieces.  In this case, you should know that some good things actually can come out of this very bad situation. The wife in the above scenario could take comfort in this.

Since I really had no say in my husband’s infidelity, I was left with picking up the pieces.  And after a lot of pain and hard work, some good things actually did come out of the affair.  Our marriage is much stronger and we are better at communicating and keeping our bond very close.  If it helps, you can read about how our recovery brought about some good things on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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