When we talk about affairs, the assumption is that the marriage is broken. But can having an affair help your marriage? It’s an interesting question, with no easy answers.
Unless the husband and wife are both inclined toward polyamory, extramarital relations are always a no-no. The strongest premise of a marriage is monogamy, so infidelity is always seen as harmful, right? But some could say a marriage could reap the benefits of extramarital affairs, and make you appreciate your spouse more.
After all, love is multidimensional. Maybe one kind of love actually strengthens another. We got a bunch of people to weigh in, and their thoughts were both varied and surprising.
Can A Marriage Be Stronger After An Affair?
The causes of extramarital affairs are manifold – boredom, loneliness, the feeling of being unappreciated. An extramarital affair – one that involves social, sexual as well as interpersonal interaction with another (and not just a sexual or emotional attachment) – may give you an opportunity to see your marriage through a new lens.
It may even inspire you to fix your marriage. After all, one of the causes for extramarital affairs is a stagnant marriage. Some people we spoke to suggested that an affair could revitalize the marriage by pushing back against the perceived stagnation.
In other words, the extramarital relationship becomes the spoon that stirs the pot. We get into an extramarital relationship because certain needs aren’t being met in our marriage – the extramarital relationship stands in contrast to the marital relationship by its very nature.
When we compare both the relationships, this contrast shows us what we have been missing in our marital relationship. Thus, we get to determine what it is that we actually need in our marital relationship to feel satisfied.
In this piece, we asked people about the benefits of extramarital affairs, if any, and if such an affair really can fix your marriage.
My husband’s affair saved our marriage
Sawmya Tewari agrees that extramarital affairs can bring positivity to one’s married life cause you to appreciate your spouse more.
She said, “My husband’s affair saved our marriage. We had drifted apart too busy with our respective careers. But his affair and my reaction to it brought us back to reality. We realized we still care for each other and none of us could think of a divorce.”
Sawmya also shared an incident where a husband cheated on his wife, but they then went to counseling and now the spark in their marriage is back. “My friend was devastated when she came to know about the affair, but when her husband wanted to mend their relationship, she realized she wanted to as well.
“You end up appreciating your spouse a little more, when you think about losing them, or think about them with someone else,” she mused.
Adultery and marriage don’t always go hand-in-hand
But there’s always a flip side where an affair could make a marriage worse, and you realize your regret your affair. Smriti said she has friends who are giving their marriage a second shot after surviving an affair.
But, she cautioned, an affair might help in reviving the old flame in our marriage, but if taken too far, “It usually ends up being catastrophic to the marriage, because you’ve already broken the trust bond and then, instead of your marriage getting better, it spirals into disaster.”
There’s another aspect to an affair, too. Smriti pointed out that while an affair can help a marriage, the other man or woman in the affair could be hoping that someday, the affair will turn into a relationship. “The ones in the marriage, in this case, have managed to make their lives fulfilling. But imagine how unfair it is for the ‘other’ who longs for love and care, but ends up lonely everyday!”
Related reading: I love my husband, but sometimes I love the other man a tad more
For an affair to do wonders to a marriage, both partners need to take the affair positively, which is really unlikely to happen, given our egos and possessiveness.
An affair could also break your marriage
Some people were adamant that under no circumstances could an affair help a marriage. “An affair would fail to pep up your married life 99/100 times. And that is probability I would never bet on,” said Ayushi.
“A pep up at the cost of trust? Don’t go there – it might come back to bite you,” warned Amreeta Sen, while Ankur agreed that the lack of trust will always remain with the one cheated on. It’s hard to erase pain like that. “Couples may continue for whatever reason but it’s tough to even let go of it over time,” he said.
“People in extramarital affairs are known to turn soft and more caring towards their partners. It could be because of the guilt, that they become considerate, but it’s still guilt” said Dr Sanjeev Trivedi, providing a different viewpoint.
Related Reading: What’s The Real Reason For An Extra Marital Affair?
Sometimes infidelity can make a marriage stronger
A betrayal of trust may make the guilty party realize the consequences of the transgression if it gets known and also make him/her evaluate whether the affair and the breaking of trust was worth it, says Amit Shankar Saha.
But there can be an affair where there is nothing hidden and in such cases, especially when the spouses are best of friends, the important thing is to have a sense of responsibility.
Often it isn’t necessary for someone married to go to the extent of having a full-fledged affair but rather someone who can provide emotional support. Such emotional affairs are still sometimes seen as infidelity by a spouse, but in such cases, an affair could make a marriage stronger.
Amit agrees that, “It is too far-fetched to think that a single person can provide every kind of fulfillment. People often compromise on one’s varied feelings and ambitions in order to stick to one partner for all sort of satisfaction. A spouse can be one’s sexual partner, an emotional partner, and may not be an intellectual partner.
“Also, there are even some emotions that can be shared with a spouse and others are just more suitable for a friend or a different partner. It need not be that someone indulged in a romantic relationship on the side and then regretted the affair.”
Related Reading: 12 Ways Office Affairs Can Spell Trouble For You
Cheating is good for your marriage
It is possible to have a strong friendship beyond marriage, but when the lines of this relationship start blurring, there can be trouble. But many couples who have undergone healing after an affair say that they realized their mistakes and started working on the marriage that made their partnership better in the long-run. But all agree that affairs come with consequences, how you decide to handle that is up to you.
Initially, few people would say that ‘cheating on my husband saved my marriage’ or ‘my wife was overjoyed when she came to know I was sleeping with someone else.’ And few people go into an extramarital affair thinking ‘cheating is good for my marriage’. Once spouses get to know about the cheating, the mental agony they go through is harrowing.
Related Reading: How Should I Be Dealing With Extramarital Attraction
But when they start picking up the pieces after an affair, it might just be possible that they inject new life into a marriage because the couple keeps trying extra hard.
That is when you can say maybe cheating turns out to be good for your marriage.
Love is complex, and love that takes place outside norms and structures is even more so. One can have love for many without having an affair and not feel guilty for denying that love to one’s spouse.
That said, it takes a huge amount of work, therapy and a genuine desire to heal and repair the marriage, if you’re hoping to begin anew after an affair. Has an affair helped your marriage? Let us know in the comments below.
Affairs can happen even in the best of marriages. Causes for extramarital affairs could be boredom, lack of sex, feeling underappreciated, or just being lonely. Sometimes, an affair is purely emotional when one spouse feels their needs aren’t being met in the marriage.
There are instances where having an affair has put the spark back in a marriage or made one appreciate a spouse more. But it takes a lot of work to repair a marriage once the affair is found out, and sometimes, the trust is gone forever and the marriage cannot be saved.
Extramarital affairs can be emotional, physical or both. Sometimes, it’s a purely physical fling, sometimes it’s an emotional bond. Extramarital affairs can turn into love or a full-fledged relationship, but often, one half of the affair goes back to their spouse.