For most couples, the biggest deal-breaker in a relationship is infidelity. Marriages may face a storm from any direction but one of the biggest reasons that tear it apart completely is betrayal. However, the impact of infidelity on a relationship can manifest in different ways. There are affairs that break a marriage and there are situations when couples actually brave through a betrayal to emerge stronger.
Granted, it requires supreme mental strength to be able to forgive your cheating partner and accept them back into your life. If you’re like most people, however, you’ll probably want to walk away from the marriage despite how hard it may seem to do so.
When people do walk away and the marriage has been broken because of an affair, do affairs that break up a marriage last? Do affairs that turn into marriage exist? What kind of damage can be observed from long-term affairs when both parties are married? Let’s find out all you need to know.
Do Affairs Always Ruin Marriages?
To understand the impact of infidelity on a marriage and the reasons why affairs that break a marriage take place, it is important to understand why people cheat in the first place.
“Infidelity is a coping mechanism, almost like gambling, drinking or other similar vices,” says Sushma Perla, UAE-based Emotional Alignment Specialist, Master Life Coach, and NLP practitioner.
“Most people stray because some of their needs aren’t met in their marriage. Their needs – be it physical, emotional or any other – were perhaps met outside of their relationship. The cause and the depth of the affair would determine whether it can ruin a marriage,” she adds.
Needless to say, the reaction of the partner also matters a lot. If a man or woman has cheated only once and it was a one-off episode, sometimes their partner finds it within themselves to forgive, forget and move on.
“There are also couples who work their way through the crisis,” says Sushma. “They may realize that they have fallen out of love and go deeper into the reasons.”
Affairs that break a marriage are usually the ones that are serious and committed. If an affair has the potential to lead to a long-term relationship, then it would most certainly break the current relationship that the person is involved in. No man or woman would like to share his or her spouse with another person. Exclusivity is a hallmark of marriage, and by having an affair, a person basically breaks that vow of exclusivity.
In other words, affairs may not always ruin a marriage, but they do have other impacts such as:
Related Reading: 20 Myths And Facts About Cheating In A Marriage
1. They lead to a corrosion of trust
The bedrock of marriage is trust. There are affairs that break a marriage and there are episodes of cheating that somehow get resolved without too much damage. However, in both cases, there is an irrevocable erosion of trust. Predictably, the partner who’s being cheated on won’t be too thrilled about it.
2. The cheated partner may close up
The general personality trait for people is to either go toward pleasure or run away from pain. “If we feel we are not good enough or suffer from low self-esteem, we shut ourselves up,” says Sushma.
An affair by a partner can impact their spouse in a way that causes them to harden up and build walls. “It’s hard to be vulnerable or let your guard down thereafter,” she adds.
3. Affairs create pain and damage respect
When people deny an affair, but then get caught, the damage to the marriage is extensive. Affairs that break a marriage usually have an element of stealth and lies, where the cheating partner is in denial of his betrayal, or uses it to pass the blame onto other people or circumstances.
4. The cracks will always be there
Howsoever hard a couple may try to reconcile after infidelity, an affair will leave a lasting impact on a marriage. Things will never quite be the same again. Also, the residual anger and hurt can rear their ugly head even long after the issue of cheating has been supposedly put to bed, leading to an eventual divorce – perhaps much after the betrayal.
Related Reading: The 3 Types Of Men Who Have Affairs And How To Recognize Them
So even though affairs might not always end marriages, they still do considerable damage to the relationship. It’s no surprise that affairs do end marriages on a regular basis. But, what happens to those affairs after a marriage has been broken because of them? Do affairs that break up a marriage last?
Do Affairs That Break Up A Marriage Last?
There is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question. Affairs that break a marriage might seem to have a slim chance of surviving, but it depends on the circumstances of the breakup. “Affairs that break a marriage can last if the couple in question has broken the patterns and learned the lessons. Otherwise, the very thing that destroyed a marriage would take place in the next relationship as well,” says Sushma.
For instance, if it was a lack of intimacy in the marriage, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a sexual addiction that led to the cheating, then unless those issues are resolved, they are likely to make an impact in the next relationship as well.
So while the answer to “do affairs that end marriages last” is a bit more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, there are some aspects we can look at to get a better idea. Here are some factors that determine if affairs that break a marriage will last:
1. How a person has healed from the pain
Some breakups are really bad and a person quickly gets into a new relationship almost on the rebound. “If that is the scenario, then the new relationship will also feel the heat, because the one who walked out of a marriage will be emotionally traumatized. They may have taken forward their affair and turned it into a full-blown relationship without healing the past and thus, sustaining it will be difficult,” says Sushma.
So while you’re trying to answer “do affairs that break up a marriage last”, just take a look at how quickly the cheating partner decided to plunge headfirst into his/her new relationship. If s/he waited a grand total of 1.5 days, you know the chances of that lasting are about as high as their IQ. Honestly, when was the last time they made a good decision?
2. What’s the foundation of the affair?
Most affairs that break a marriage find it difficult to last unless the foundation is strong. Extramarital affairs, be they emotional or sexual, often start off on a false note of deceit, unfulfilled needs, the desire to fulfill the elements lacking in their current marriage and so on.
Once the primary relationship is dissolved, the very foundation on which the affair rests, disappears too. Unless there is a deep emotional investment on both sides, sustaining the affair can be hard. Also, another factor is that affairs rarely offer solutions to the current problems a relationship is facing.
3. How has the family accepted the affair
Even if affairs that break a marriage lead to something solid between the new couple, there are other challenges they face. Perhaps the couple in question might be ideal for each other, but they will face resistance from the family. Cheating spouses rarely find sympathy or even approval. Getting their support would often be an uphill task, at least in the initial phases.
And if there are children involved, second marriages from affairs end up affecting more people than just the parents. Therefore, how the family accepts the whole ordeal is a major reason why extramarital affairs fall apart even after separation.
4. If the ‘thrill’ lasts for a longer time
Some affairs begin on a note of adventure, the joy of biting into the forbidden fruit. You know cheating is wrong but it makes you come alive. However, this short-term thrill is no substitute for a long-term relationship, which takes time to build and strengthen. Your affair will last only if you are past the ‘thrill’ phase and it becomes something more meaningful.
So, do affairs that break up a marriage last? Not unless they quickly find someone else to cheat on to keep the first affair going. In other words, they’re horrible human beings who are willing to put their partner through pain just to get their kicks.
5. Do the children accept the relationship?
When a married person with kids has an affair, the complications multiply. The person in question may have problems in their marriage, but what is their equation with the children, if any? If the kids are mature enough to respect their parent’s new relationship, then those affairs that break a marriage have a greater chance of survival.
So when you’re trying to answer “do affairs that end marriages last?”, how the children react to the person their parent cheated with will be a great way to figure it out. It’s going to take a lot more for that cheater to win the trust of the kids than the occasional gifts and chocolates.
6. The state of the marriage
What was the state of the marriage when you embarked on the affair? Was it a relatively happy one? Did you and your partner lead regular lives with the usual problems? Or was it already on the verge of breaking? If the affair started in the latter scenario, then the unhappy state of your marriage might actually be the foundation that strengthens the relationship, giving you the impetus to walk out.
Related Reading: The 9 Truths About Lifelong Extramarital Affairs
7. The guilt factor
People who have affairs that break a marriage often suffer from guilt. Whatever be the rationalization and justification for the affair, it is difficult to support it. The higher the guilt that a person feels for breaking their marriage, the lesser the chances of the affair lasting. Shame and guilt can often overshadow affairs that break a marriage.
Do affairs that break up a marriage last? Try to figure out if the cheating partner was heartless enough to cheat, but not heartless enough to do it devoid of any guilt.
8. Trust in the new relationship
Be it a marriage or an affair, trust and bonding are key for it to last. Exciting affairs that break a marriage may have all the elements of a good relationship initially but how long it will last depends on how much you trust your new partner and vice-versa. One of the most common questions that crop up in your mind would be – if they could break their marriage for this affair, what’s the guarantee they won’t cheat you again?
9. Are all the needs met?
Affairs can last as long as both parties get what they need. In many cases it might not even be love – it is more likely to be a physical or emotional escape. If the person who has ‘escaped’ his or her current relationship finds that his or her needs are not being met in the affair, there is very little chance of it surviving.
How Many Affairs End In Marriage?
It is difficult to say with precision how many affairs end in marriage. The stats claim that extramarital affairs fall apart even after separation. The rate of second marriages from affairs is shockingly low, sitting between 3 to 5%. So affairs that turn into marriage don’t really come around too often.
Even though the numbers may not support them ending up in marriage, they might still last a considerable amount of time. Enough to break the first marriage, at least. The initial rush of a relationship lasts for six to 18 months, and relationships that survive that period have a higher chance of leading to marriage. There are several other factors that go into it as well.
The components of trust in the relationship, the reasons why a couple gets together in the first place, whether the relationship fulfills the needs of the people involved, and much more. Be that as it may, marriage is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship. What matters, in the end, is how strong it is and if it can weather the inevitable storms that hit every couple.
Second marriages resulting out of affairs are not uncommon provided they are strong enough to shake the foundations of the first marriage and the unfulfilled needs of the relationship are actually met satisfactorily in the affair.
Affairs between married couples usually end because of non-acceptance by families or children, lack of trust developing as the affair progresses, and the guilt and shame factor that is generally associated with affairs outside of marriage.
There is no reason why extramarital affairs can’t be true love. If a person meets their soulmate after they’ve gotten married, the choice to remain married or not is difficult to make. However, that does not take away from the feelings of the new relationship.