Nearly a quarter to half of divorces involve adultery, according to the Kinsey Institute, and about 25 percent of men and 15 percent of women commit adultery during their marriages.
Saving a marriage after an affair challenges both the unfaithful and faithful partner, but divorce is not inevitable when bothpartners commit to rebuilding the marriage. Repairing a marriage can result in a deeper, more meaningful relationship for both partners. The partners can recapture the love and trust they enjoyed in the beginning.
For starters, both spouses must protect their health, and both must be tested for sexually transmitted disease (STD). Even faithful condom use is no guarantee of immunity from STDs. Adultery exposes people to life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS and Hepatitis C. No matter what assurances the wayward spouse offers, testing is a must.
The extramarital relationship must end immediately. All contact with the other party must cease. Work affairs pose a special problem, as contact may be unavoidable, so the cheating spouse should seek a job with a different company.
The unfaithful spouse must be honest and accept responsibility for the affair and show remorse for the pain and suffering he or she has caused the other person.
Rebuilding the marriage means rebuilding trust in the partner. To rebuild the marriage, the straying spouse must agree to transparency for as long as it takes to regain the trust. This may mean transparent accountability, such as sharing online passwords to email accounts and social networking sites, or access to all text messages and the history on a cell phone, or it may just mean checking in with one another.
Marriage counseling helps couples work through painful feelings and unresolved issues. It helps couples learn new ways to communicate. Professional guidance provides a safe venue for both parties to express themselves.
With time, a victim can forgive the other spouse. The possibility of forgiving an unfaithful spouse seems difficult at first, but becomes easier with time. Bottled resentments only poison the well. With work and effort, eventually the victim and unfaithful spouse can recommit to the marriage. Making a marriage work after adultery requires hard work but offers the reward of growing old with the spouse.