Most people struggle with the decision to get a divorce or end a partnership. Even when infidelity occurs, the decision is not always immediate or easy. You’ll start by wondering, “Can a marriage survive an affair?”
The answer depends on the people and what happened.
Every relationship involves two unique people. Their personalities, behaviors, and emotions will direct the outcomes. Some spouses recover from infidelity, and some don’t. As you evaluate your relationship, you’ll have to judge whether you see signs that you should walk away.
How Long Does a Marriage Last After Infidelity?
Most statistics about marriages surviving infidelity come from couples who saw marriage counselors. Information about people who don’t seek outside help is rarely documented.
When looking at couples that experienced infidelity and sought therapy, the American Psychological Association reported that 53 percent of those couples divorced within 5 years.
This figure indicates that only about half of the people who try to heal their marriages remain married after 5 years. Even so, the divorces tended not to be immediate.
The researchers found that couples initially experienced improvement at the 6 month mark after counseling. By 5 years, however, those early positive results had faded for many and produced a high rate of divorce.
Divorce after infidelity is prevalent, which is admittedly discouraging for people hoping to salvage their marriages. Infidelity represents one of the most challenging things for couples to overcome, even with therapy.
People who enter marriage counseling for problems other than infidelity remain married in much higher numbers. After 5 years, only 23 percent of them had chosen to divorce.
Do We Have a Chance?
It really depends on the individuals involved. But most of all, it is vital to open up communication in a way you’ve likely never done before. It’s important, as the partner who cheated, to show your spouse this isn’t something that will happen regularly.
You have to prove yourself all over again and this can be daunting.
Infidelity isn’t always about sex. Whatever is at the center of your desire to cheat must be addressed before any healing can occur.
10 Ways to Know When to Walk Away After Infidelity
1. Partner Avoids Responsibility by Blaming You
There’s a big difference between someone who admits to doing something wrong and someone who shifts the blame to others. A partner or spouse who says that your behavior was the cause of the infidelity could be waving a big red warning flag about the relationship’s future.
Many of the reasons to blame you might surface when you discuss the infidelity. You might have been argumentative, stressed out, distracted, inattentive, or disrespectful.
The challenge for you is to determine if the blame has any merit. In some cases, a spouse’s absence or hostile behavior can realistically drive someone into another person’s arms.
You’ll need to be honest with yourself. Maybe you did withdraw emotional support and make the relationship unfulfilling. If your partner’s complaints are valid, then you can work on being a better partner.
However, the possibility exists that your spouse simply wants to avoid blame. Some people just do not take responsibility for their actions, even when they harm others. Blaming the victim is a real phenomenon that you should view as toxic behavior.
2. Spouse Maintains Contact With Former Lover
Affairs thrill people because they are forbidden fruit. The excitement can be hard to give up. If your spouse or partner continues to contact the lover, then you cannot hope to mend your relationship until the connection is severed. Even if the affair is technically over and the person is “just a friend,” this status remains a huge sign that you should walk away.
Yes, men and women can be just friends, but when that ‘friend’ is someone they cheated on you with, it becomes a whole other matter.
3. Lack of Remorse
This is a little different than refusing to accept responsibility. A partner who has cheated should at least apologize for the behavior.
If you don’t hear a clear “I’m sorry,” then you know that the person has little regard for your feelings. Rebuilding love after infidelity will be impossible when a person does not apologize.
4. The Relationship Was Always Rocky
When you reflect on the history of your relationship, what do you see? Was there a time when things were good, and you both were happy?
Or, was your relationship always a roller-coaster of hurt feelings, apologies, and broken promises? If things have always been difficult, then maybe you need a new direction for your future.
5. Tendency to Lie About Many Things
People naturally want to hide their infidelity. Once that deception has been exposed, it’s not unusual to find other areas where the truth is lacking. Your spouse might be a habitual liar, lying about even minor things that don’t call for dishonesty.
Frequent lying reveals a desire for independence. Your spouse wants to maintain a segregated life of private details beyond what is reasonable for a trustworthy person. The behavior demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for you.
Although the lies might be framed to protect your feelings or save you from stress, dishonesty is a lazy approach to a relationship. If the cheating partner can’t make an effort to be truthful, then trust is unattainable.
6. Partner Wants You “To Forget About It”
You may need to give up on the relationship when your partner refuses to examine what happened in a meaningful way. Although your partner may apologize and accept responsibility, that is the end of it in that person’s mind.
Your partner might ask to “never talk about it” or say, “How can we move forward if you keep bringing up the past?”
For couples who do repair their love after infidelity, they must, at some point, leave the issue in the past. However, a long process is necessary before you can consider infidelity to be water under the bridge.
Someone who wants to bury what happened quickly may never resolve the problems that led to the cheating in the first place.
7. Spouse Does Not Focus on Relationship
Maybe the affair ended, and you got your apology, but you still don’t feel like a couple. Your spouse may only socialize with friends and not include you.
Your attempts to schedule a date night might be rebuffed. If someone does not act interested in doing anything with you, you might need to pull the plug on the relationship because it does not really exist anymore anyway.
8. You Can’t Let Go of the Anger
Even if you and your spouse have been doing the work to rebuild your relationship, you remain angry.
Not everyone gets over being upset about infidelity.
9. Spouse Disrespects You
Even in the absence of infidelity, constant disrespect is a sign that you might need to leave the relationship. If you’re always the butt of jokes and your opinion is constantly belittled, then you have to ask yourself if that person really loves you.
Continued disrespect after confronting infidelity signals that the person does not consider you worthy of loyalty.
10. Trying to Heal Had Little Effect
You and your partner discussed what happened and made sincere efforts to move forward. Perhaps you attended couples therapy and took the recommended advice.
Despite trying to mend your heart, you still wonder, does infidelity pain ever go away? Your feelings of hurt and betrayal linger even though your rational mind tries to resolve them. When you try to muster passionate feelings for your partner, you hit a wall inside.
Realizing that your attempt to fix the relationship failed is very disappointing. You tried to avoid this outcome, but sometimes you just can’t fake it until you make it. When healing with your spouse does not succeed, you may have to try healing on your own.
The Bottom Line
If both of you show signs of wanting to heal and regain what was lost, then taking divorce off the table creates mental space for solving marital problems. Divorce comes with long-term financial and emotional challenges and should not be entered into lightly.
Most couples attempt to repair the damage after infidelity. Divorce is not usually immediate, and, for the lucky minority, it does not happen at all. It’s not the automatic answer for most people, even though it may feel like it at the time.
It is possible to heal after infidelity, if both partners are willing to put in the work.
Communication is vital in any relationship. You may enjoy this piece which details some conversations you can have with your partner: