The Right Reasons And The Wrong Reasons To Stay Married After An Affair

By Katie Lersch: I often hear from couples who are trying to decide if they’re going to save or end their marriage after one of them has an affair. They often aren’t sure if the problems that lead to the affair are insurmountable or if the damage that it caused inspired pain that is impossible to overcome. Whether to save your marriage or walk away from it is not a decision that I can make for anyone. It’s a very personal decision which is influenced by many factors and it is often not yours alone to make.

And although I can’t make this decision for you, I can tell you what I have found to be the right reasons and the wrong reasons that people stay together after an affair. I see many couples who attempt to stay together for the wrong reasons eventually either fail in their marriage or become so angry and bitter that they wonder if they would be better off if they had failed.

Conversely, I see people who decide to stay married for the right reasons rise to the occasion, grow, and end up being happier because they have a better marriage than the one that they started with. So in the following article, I’ll go over some of the common wrong reasons that I see people use when they chose to stay together after an affair. And I will also go over the right reasons that people cite as well.

The Wrong Reasons That Couples Decide To Stick It Out And Stay Together After An Affair:

You Want To Make Your Spouse Miserable Or Make Them Pay: Sometimes both people aren’t sure if they even still want or love their spouse. But, they are also sure that they don’t want for anyone else to have them either. And sometimes, they want to make them pay for their affair. The marriage (and clinging to it) becomes a short of punishment for the infidelity.

Along this same idea, some people push to stay together after an affair simply because they don’t want their spouse to end up with the person with whom he cheated or had the affair. The wife may well know that she will never love her husband in the same way ever again, but she’ll be darned if she’s going to let that cheating tramp have him.

This is truly understandable. I had this inclination myself when my own husband had an affair, but what you typically can’t see at the time is that you are punishing yourself too. Don’t you deserve a marriage in which both people are equally happy and fulfilled? Do you deserve to live only to make someone else miserable? Because if so, the chances are good that you are going to be miserable as well.

You’re Afraid To Be On Your Own. You Don’t Think That Anyone Else Could Possibly Want Or Tolerate You: Another common reason that I see wives (and sometimes husbands too) hold onto their marriage after their affair is that they are scared or doubtful about being on their own. So they figure that it’s better to be in a dead marriage with the security that this brings rather than taking their chances on the outside. In this case, you are often selling yourself short. If you are going to take this route, at least make sure that you try every thing in your power to improve yourself as an individual as well as your marriage so that you never feel that you are at someone else’s mercy again.

Money Or Financial Reasons Keep You From Breaking Away: The final thing that I will mention is that sometimes the people who cheat stay in their marriage not because they truly want to be there, but because they know that a divorce is going to be costly. So they are there only for the financial security, but not for the marriage. If this is your situation, at least do everything in your power to save not only your pocketbook, but your relationship with your spouse. No one should sentence themselves to a life of unhappiness.

The Right Reasons to Stay Married After An Affair:

Despite the Infidelity, You Still Love Your Spouse: I know that it is sometimes hard for people to understand how you can continue to love someone who has betrayed you, but believe me, it is possible. You can’t just turn off your love for someone because they disappointed you. You may feel profound anger and or hatred for what you spouse did, but somewhere deep down, you don’t have it in you to turn your back on them and, despite yourself, you still love and want them.

I don’t think that there is any real shame in this. Marriages recover from affairs every day. Some are even blissfully happy and fulfilling again. If you find yourself in a situation where you still love your spouse, I don’t see the harm in trying to make it work. If you don’t, you may well regret it as well as always wonder what might have happened.

You Want To Keep Your Family In Tact Despite the Affair: This is actually one of the most common reasons that people give me for staying together. They do not want to split up their family. Many wives will tell you that if they only had themselves to think about, they might have made a different decision. But they refuse to break up their family because of a mistake that was not their children’s fault. This was my thinking too.

Now, people will sometimes disagree and tell you that a bad or troubled marriage is not healthy for kids either. But my response has always been that troubled marriages can be healed and there are countless studies which indicate that, absent an abusive or horribly traumatic family life, living with two parents is the best thing for children. Countless studies indicate educational, social, and psychological issues that crop up after a divorce. I think most people would agree that if you can keep your family together, it is in your children’s best interest to do so. That’s not to say that you need to become a martyr. You don’t have to limp through in a marriage that isn’t making you happy. You should do everything in your power to make your marriage a happy one once again because the marriage that you are showing your children is the one that they will one day model.

You Are Too Stubborn To Give Up: Never underestimate stubbornness as a valid reason to pull your marriage out of the brink of destruction. There are many people in this world who just hate to fail at anything. Walking away from their marriage is, for them, admitting defeat or admitting that they failed. If this is what it takes to get you through, I see no problem here either.

I struggled with and considered all of these reasons after my husband’s affair. But it was my love for my family that inspired me to stick it out. Today, I am glad that I made that decision because my marriage is a good one and I personally think it’s better than it was. If it helps, you can read the whole emotional story on my blog at

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