by: katie lersch: I often hear from people who are trying to determine how badly the odds are stacked against them and their marriage after their spouse has had an affair. And, this is a concern that both husbands and wives share. Anyone can be on the wrong end of their spouse’s affair and yet be still trying to save their marriage in the aftermath of it. And many want to know just what they are up against and if they are fighting a losing battle.
I recently heard from a wife who said: “I really do want to stay married even though I just recently found out about my husband’s affair. But every day, I feel anger and rage that feels so foreign to me. Every day, the awkwardness and the coldness in our marriage becomes more and more evident. I have friends who are still married five years after the husband’s infidelity and they seem reasonably content. But I wonder if they beat the odds because this affair has brought up so many resentments and doubts in me. I don’t know if I will be able to overcome these things. What’s the percentage of couples who stay married after one of them cheats and has an affair? And how can I make sure that I beat the odds?” I’ll address these things in the following article.
The Percentage Of Couples Remaining Married After An Affair Might Be Higher Than You Think: The woman in the above scenario confessed that she assumed that the majority of couples who face infidelity end up divorced. Statistics show that this just isn’t the case. Although the numbers vary, most studies and surveys indicate that the percentage of people who stay married after an affair is around 75 – 80 percent (with around 20 – 25 percent of couples eventually divorcing because they just couldn’t over come the affair.) I suspect that there are many factors that go into which couples make it and which don’t such as the length of the affair, the determination and commitment of the people involved, and the tools or help that the married couple had access to.
Although you might find these numbers surprising or even encouraging, I would argue that these statistics don’t tell you everything. There are many reasons that people stay together after an affair. Sometimes, it is because they still love and are committed to their spouse. But, other times, it’s out a sense of obligation, due to finances, or because the marriage has just become a comfortable habit that feels familiar. Honestly, I think there’s another question here that is equally important – which leads me to my next point.
A More Important Statistic Might Be How Many People Remain Married After An Affair And Are Truly Happy. How Many Are Able To Restore The Happiness And Fulfillment In Their Marriage?: The wife in this scenario was most concerned about remaining married. But frankly, this is only half the battle. We all know couples who stuck it out after an affair but who were never truly happy again because they just weren’t able to recover. Many of us know the couple who insist on staying together but who also remain miserable and bitter. To me, staying married but remaining unhappy isn’t really a victory at all. It’s my opinion that it only makes sense to fight for your marriage after an affair if you can ensure that they same marriage is rebuilt so that it’s a marriage that’s actually worth fighting for.
I know for certain this is possible because of my own experience. But many people worry more about staying married at all costs while not worrying nearly as much if they are staying in and rebuilding a happy marriage. I think that many people do not realize just how bad things can be when you are stuck in a marriage where it’s clear that neither spouse is particularly happy to be there. I have a friend who will openly admit that her marriage is this way and the tension and negative feelings between she and her husband are extremely obvious and uncomfortable to anyone who spends time with them. It’s as if she can’t stop punishing him and he seems to feels so guilty that he thinks that this is his lot in life. Neither of them seem to believe that things could ever possibly be better. And neither of them are willing to be the one to initiate or ask for a change. So it’s quite possible that they will continue to go through life married but unhappy.
Ensuring That You Rebuild A Marriage That Is Worth Staying In After The Affair: So now that we’ve established that it’s not all that rare to stay married, let’s talk about how to make sure you’re not staying in an unhappy marriage. Many people assume that staying means that you’re accepting a damaged marriage that is destined to just limp along. But it truly is possible to rebuild a different and sometimes stronger and better marriage. Yes, this requires you to do some in depth work on both yourself and your marriage. But what you put into it will often be worth it in the long run. It’s better than remaining unhappy. Your spouse’s affair should not be something that you have to deal with for the rest of your married life. You can work through it.
Staying married after an affair should be something that you want to do not because you feel obligated or stuck but because of your love for your spouse and the fact that you are able to return your marriage to something that is a source and happiness and fulfillment for both of you. If you’re having trouble rebuilding after the affair, I highly recommend the free “Break Free From the Affair” ecourse on the side of this blog. I know that trying to stay married after an affair can very challenging and painful, but it can truly be worth it. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
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